Thursday, September 16, 2010

Room...and bored

At age 17, I left my hometown of 13,000 people and moved to a modest basement apartment in the northern part of Toronto. An ambitious college student who was relieved to have at last escaped the perceived hell of rural living, I quickly became homesick, and took the train home many weekends.

On one such return visit, my parents informed me they had offered up the use of the sofa in my new pad, free of charge, to the daughter of an acquaintance.

"You did what?"

"We told her she could stay with you. It's only for a month."

"But why?" You should imagine a whine here.

"Because it seems like the right thing to do. Besides, her family has always been good to us."

"Dad, you are a customer in her father's restaurant. A paying customer. No, wait...a regular, paying customer. Getting a good breakfast that you paid for doesn't really qualify as a debt owed."

My arguments fell on deaf ears. My parents paid most of the cost of my apartment, so it was mostly their space to loan out to any near-strangers for whom they felt the slightest affinity. Besides, they pointed out I could get rides home on weekends from my new roomie, who owned a car. I might have offered more of a protest but, well, my mom intimidated me. She still does.

Pat (not her real name; okay, I’m lying, it was her real name) moved in early the next week. At first, I wasn’t completely averse to the idea of having a companion. My apartment was a 90-minute transit ride from my school, so none of my fellow students wanted anything to do with visiting me. I had been spending most evenings (a) sitting in a chair watching television and chewing my nails, (b) playing with myself, (c) pretending I had no laundry and a surplus of friends, and (d) waiting for my landlord to go out for the evening so I could steal some of the weed he stashed under his sofa cushions.

On top of this boundless excitement, having a living, breathing person around didn’t seem horrible, although it would put some constraints on (b).

"Okay, Dad, she can stay...but just for a month."

He looked at me the same way I now look at my kids whenever they refer to our home as "my house".

"You're doing the right thing, son."

Within a week, I discovered that I truly could hate a person more than I hate sauerkraut or laundry. Allow me to explain.

First, the rides home. Pat liked to smoke cigarettes, but didn’t buy smokes.

"I'm not really a smoker."

This meant that any cigarette I lit became a community smoke for smokers and non-smokers alike. I wouldn’t have minded so much were it not for the fact Pat was what we called a “juicer”. This meant that the dry cigarette I passed to her returned seconds later as a hot, spit-saturated sponge caked in lipstick. The shoulders of highways across Southern Ontario became littered with half-finished cigarettes thanks to yours truly. My lung capacity began to improve.

The worst part of living with Pat, though, was her immediate comfort in my space. Case in point: she enjoyed talking on the phone. My phone. Nobody could reach me. For all I knew, every person I had ever known could have died and been buried and I wouldn’t have had a clue. I seethed, but said nothing.

I said nothing because interrupting any of Pat’s conversations—all of which were, apparently, of national importance—caused her to toss me that subtle, “And what the fuck do YOU want?” glare. Besides, interrupting her calls would mean going into my own bedroom, which had largely become off-limits except when she decided I could sleep. I didn’t want any part of that space, because Pat apparently felt all calls were somehow enhanced if she took them while sprawled, face down, on my bed, in an oversized sweatshirt…and undersized panties. Sounds kinda hot, right? Not so much.

I blame my frustration for my judgmental nature. Really, a kinder person would describe my roommate’s posterior as “voluptuous”, “generous” or “Rubenesque”. I was not such a person, so I recalled it to friends (and the strangers I was soon hitting up for conversation) as “Jesus, that is one huge dimpled golf-ball of an ass”. Below said Titleist were ample legs that resembled balloons from which air was slowly escaping. Until I saw my first Vermeer painting years later, the term “milky white” brought no positive images to mind; all I could think about were Pat’s limp, cellulite-clad limbs. (In case you were wondering, I was bitter.)

For the month Pat stayed with me, she proved to be long on promises and short on delivery. Every day I heard about the cases of beer and countless food items that would soon be clogging our fridge. I heard about the good times we’d share visiting parties and bars. Instead, for weeks, I stayed thirsty, hungry...and out of my room.

When Pat finally left, I spent an entire evening stretched out on my bed, taking long, satisfying (and deliciously dry) drags on one cigarette after another, dreaming of beer and food, and relishing my new-found independence.

My brother moved in a week later.


1 comment:

  1. LOL Fucking fantastic!! Now I know how to refer to my ass!! Bravo!


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