Tag Archives: roommates

Twain’s example

9 Apr

Mark Twain once wrote, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example”.

I am convinced he wrote this after visiting Switzerland.

I can just picture him now, stumbling up the stairs of an old apartment building after drinking too much bourbon (undoubtedly smuggled into Europe).  Swaying, hiccoughing, and reaching his front door-he likely found a note that said something along the lines of:

Dear Sir,

Please stop walking in your apartment past ten p.m.  Also, you were spotted in the hallway past midnight, this is unacceptable.  Oh, and tell your lady visitors not to wear their heels in the apartment.  It is too loud.

Thank you,

your neighbor

The Swiss are more obsessed with rules than any culture I have ever encountered.  For example, it is forbidden to use a vacuum on Sundays, and to flush a toilet past ten p.m.

Don’t even get me started on laundry.  I am positive that any homicides occurring in the ‘neutral’ nation have been committed as a result of a laundry dispute.

I’m not kidding, doing your laundry on the wrong day (everyone gets a day) is a complete sin worthy of stoning.  Reactions to such behavior include but not limited to:

Leaving notes on ones front door.

Leaving notes on the washing machine of the building.

Telling all other neighbors to watch out for the ‘rule-breaker’.

Long-winded lectures that continue long after the intended recipient attempts to communicate she cannot understand a word coming out of the Swiss mouth.

It is a strange, strange country that I don’t know too much about, but I can say that I definitely prefer the French approach to rules than the Swiss.

The Swiss treat the green walking man at a crosswalk like Jesus.  I’m with Twain, it’s just plain annoying.  If no cars are approaching, cross the damn street.

Lest we all become sheep.

Someone pass the bourbon, I’m toasting Mark.


Parisian apartments

14 Mar

A friend of mine was searching for apartments in Paris when I first met him.  We were in the same grad-school program, and we instantly bonded over the horrors of trying to find an affordable Parisian apartment.  In fact, one of the first things I remember his smiling face proclaiming was:

‘Sure, the centerpiece of the room is the toilet, without barriers or anything, but I figure I can put a chess-set on the bowl when it’s not in use.  Not going to be a great selling point if I have girls over though.  I imagine whoever isn’t using the toilet will have to stand in the corner covering their eyes and plugging their ears-you know, out of respect’

Yes, some of the places that Parisians deem habitable are certainly questionable.  I had one friend whose toilet was in the shower.  When she washed her hair, she had to straddle the bowl.

Another shared a turkish toilet with four other people, each of whom had their own tiny bedroom big enough for just a twin bed.

I myself once lived in a place with a door so low I had to duck to enter, which didn’t do my ex any favors, as he was considerably taller than myself.  We called it the hobbit hole.  In total there were four places within the 22 square meters (thats 236 square feet-yes, you read that correctly) where he would routinely bash his head into a beam.  It was above a Lebanese restaurant so in addition to the permanent smell of roasting lamb and cigarette smoke on the walls, there were lots of mice.


We once caught eight in two days.

Anyway, as it goes, finding a Parisian apartment is no easy task.  My friend didn’t end up taking the room with the toilet bowl centerpiece, but I’m sure someone did.

living large

3 Mar

I once returned home from a painfully boring job at a Day Care Center in Seattle to hear the woman I lived with screaming this into her phone:

‘What do you mean you’re only covering one?!?! What-they aren’t big enough for you?!?! Want me to come down there and slap em on your desk?! If you only cover one, I’m gonna look like the worlds fattest cyclops!!!!!!!!’

I still remember standing in the living room, two cats circling my legs as I watched Veronica thunder back and forth, obscenities raging from her mouth as if she were starring in a Joe Pesci film.  She was a rather large character, and as she slammed down the receiver, she barked at me:

‘Well the fucking insurance only wants to pay for one of my tits to be removed-come on, we’re going out for Indian’

Such was the way with Veronica.  She was a mentor to me when I was in high school, always encouraging me to live big.  I lived with her during the summer I was twenty, and it happened to coincide with her ‘tit-loss’.

During that summer I learned far more about the process of breast-reduction than necessary.  She was eventually successful in convincing the idiots at the insurance company that it was unacceptable to cover the costs of merely one boob, but it took many an afternoon of screaming to convey her message.  In the end, they took seven pounds-which-if you ask me, is a lot of tit.

incognito first date

2 Mar

My man-shopping friend (see her blog in my links) has asked me to type up a story of my worst first date.  To be fair, there are several contenders, but I will stick to that which she specifically requested.

The date I didn’t know I was on.

My parents have lived in Europe for eleven years, which made Thanksgiving in college a bit of a homesick nightmare.  In November of my junior year, I lived with some interesting characters (see my posts on roommates and neighboring potheads for further info), one of whom was nice enough to invite me to Thanksgiving dinner at his parents house so that I wouldn’t be alone on the holiday.  An extremely kind gesture on his part, and one that I happily accepted.  I piled into the car with him that Thursday morning, and the two of us drove outside Seattle to get some good old fashioned holiday yumminess.

Little did I know he had told his parents we were dating.

I was not even remotely attracted to this guy.  He took pride in not cleaning his bathroom and referred to the unholy build-up in his toilet as ‘Barnacle Bill”.  He was as opposite my type as a guy can get.  He constantly referred to myself and one other roommate as ‘the artists’ of the flat, and periodically made snide comments under his breath about our contribution to society (or lack thereof).  Until that day I was under the impression we tolerated one another for rents sake, but nothing more.

And then I met his parents.

They asked me over the course of the evening to tell them how we had met, and what our first date had been like.  Needless to say, it was a tad uncomfortable.  I didn’t know how to react to them, so I instead focused on shoving mouthfuls of delicious stuffing and potatoes into my mouth.  His grandmother was also present, and during a board game at the end of the evening I was asked to write down which magazine I would like to be on the cover of-SHE looked at her grandson and made the remark:

‘Now now, we all know you want to say Playboy-let her answer though’.

Ummmmmm…….what?  The whole affair lasted about six hours.  Six hours of his family being under the misguided impression that I was his girlfriend when in fact I was his very uncomfortable, very unavailable (as far as he was concerned) roommate.

On the way back to the apartment WE SHARED, I stared out the window in total uncomfortable silence.  I mean really, what on Earth could I say?!

Three months later he told one of our other roommates that I had been ‘inviting him to my bed’ and that he ‘knew it was only a matter of time’.

Seriously.  We never dated, but I’m not sure his parents believe that.

neighboring potheads

23 Feb

In college I lived in a large duplex in the U-District of Seattle.  One half was inhabited by myself and some friends, while the other housed a group of pot-heads and their many random pets.  These boys were so high most of the time that getting into conversations with them was like wandering into the middle of a David Lynch film.  When it came to naming their pets, they had gotten very creative.

They had a skinny, mangy-looking tabby cat named Kitty and a turtle named Shell (which they couldn’t pronounce without falling into a fit of hysterical giggles).

and of course

A snake, whom they called Snake.

A quick note regarding me and the snakes of the world: we do not get along.  I see one, and I run screaming.  I see a picture of one and I cringe.  I once came across a garter snake breeding ball (check wiki-it’s just as disgusting as it sounds), and stood paralyzed in terror as they slowly untangled themselves.  So yes, it is probably the most classically boring of fears-but I am petrified of snakes.

So it was with joy that I received the two potheads standing on my front porch one afternoon, red-eyes twinkling with pleasure as they showed off their ‘friend’ Snake.  The red and white stripes twisted around the hands of one as the other rolled a joint, both giggling in delight at the latest addition to their domestic zoo.  Needless to say, I was not as ecstatic about this as they were.  I distinctly remember telling them that the thing was sure to escape, and being a duplex-that was going to be a problem.  The other problem was that despite their antics, these boys were incredibly hot, so they tended to get away with murder.  They were so hot that one of my roommates and I frequently knocked on their door in the summers and had them open up their side so we could bring out the grill and watch them take their shirts off.  In addition to their hotness, and despite their mental capacity, they were really nice guys.  But not even their adorably dude-like nature could warm me up to the idea of Snake.

Skip ahead two months and several parties to the fresh arrival of summer.  The morning of my 22nd birthday.

I’m lying in bed, waking up to the sunshine spewing through my window when it happens.  My roommate is getting ready for work and she suddenly starts screaming like a madwoman.  Thinking she has seen a moth (her greatest irrational fear), I begin to get up and remove the flying ‘terror’ from her bedroom.  However, I am mid-roll when I hear her scream out


My bed was considerably farther away from the front door than she was, and I managed to pass her on the stairs in what had to be the fastest I had ever moved in my life.  Having just gotten out of the shower-she had found the slimy creature underneath her  heaped towel in the corner of her bedroom.

So there we were.  Two girls, one in towel, one in monkey p.j. pants screaming various obscenities on our front porch at seven in the morning.  Hands pounding furiously on our neighbors door and windows, desperately trying to wake them from their smoke-induced slumber.  After about ten minutes, one of them opened up.

Looking us over through squinted, tired eyes, he chuckled, yawned, and said ‘sssuuup ladies, want me to make pancakes?’

A cluttered mess of disgusted yelling ensued in which we managed to portray to him that his snake was currently residing on my roommates floor.  His eyes lit up at the mention of Snake, at which point he smiled and said

‘Cool man, he’s been missing for a month’

A month.  Snake had been roaming through our connected homes for a month.  As this notion sank into our brains-the disheveled neighbor asked us if he should retrieve Snake from the premises.

‘Yes, that would be fantastic’

A few minutes later, the scruffy boy from next door came up our stairs, holding Snake in a disgusting father/son reconciliation.  As he passed us in the front doorway, both still waiting the return of normal heartbeats, he said:

‘Hehehehehe, Dude, Snake’s back in action’.

Needless to say, I couldn’t quite bring myself to return to bed that morning.

the Indy incident

22 Feb

In Paris I go to the laundry mat about once a week.  Sometimes I take my dog Indy along, just for some company while waiting for my clothes to finish their spinning joyride.  It was during one such evening that my story of the day takes place.

It was almost closing time so the janitor had already arrived by the time my clothes were finishing.  She’s a charming little Indian woman-somewhere in her late forties.  She smiled at me while opening the cleaning cupboard to get her supplies. I returned the smile as I unloaded my warm clothes.  Indy remained sitting on the floor, day-dreaming about better times like breakfast or fetch.  I had just started folding my clothes and loading them into my bag when it happened.

The janitor pulled out a broom.

Anyone who has ever seen a bulldog around a vacuum or a broom will understand the intensity with which these items are hunted by the otherwise snorting, lazy creatures.  One sweep in and Indy was already crouched, ready to pounce, hop, chase, and in general be an annoying pest to the poor woman.  As her furry butt began its first launch I decided to cut her off before she began playfully irritating the janitor.  The woman had yet to notice that my dog had already claimed the plastic bristles as her prey.  So I instinctively yelled out


As I stated earlier, the janitor is an Indian woman.  An Indian woman who had not seen my dog do anything, so didn’t realize I was yelling out the name of my furry companion.  A woman who was under the impression that I enjoy randomly yelling out the nationality of people who cross my path.  Like some sort of specialized tourette syndrome.  So naturally she responded in kind.

“Excuse me?!” All traces of her smile vanished.  One hand reflexively went to her hip, eyes narrowed as she looked me up and down with what can only be described as complete disgust.

“No, no, no.  Sorry, no, that’s the name of my dog-she was about to attack your broom.  I wasn’t talking to you-I would never do that, ummmmmm I mean yes-you’re Indian-but I wouldn’t call you that-I mean…” (Clearly someone had handed me a shovel as I continued to scramble farther and farther into my hole of humiliation-in French no less).

Her eyes now ready to shoot firebolts.

“Her name is Indy-as in Indian, as in brown people?”

“No-not like that, not at all-like the Harrison Ford movies!!”

(small smile on her end) “ohhh like Indiana-”

“Yes!  Exactly, like Indiana Jones” (insert apologetic smile)

“Like in the movies?”

“Yes, like the movies” (I start humming soundtrack while petting my fat, useless bulldog.  Woman smiles and joins in the humming)

“I love Harrison Ford, he’s sexy”

(Huge grin of relief washes over my face) “Yes, yes he is”

That’s how the evening ended.  She continued cleaning, I continued folding, and for the next ten minutes we both passed the time humming the Indiana Jones soundtrack with the occasional smile at one another.