I'm really good at forming lousy habits. I'd say I'm a bit of a pro in fact. One of these lousy habits happens to be getting myself into lousy situations by performing outrageously absurd (and lousy) little stunts.
I recently learned that I demonstrate passive aggressive behavior. When I become upset (or sometimes even enraged), I say nothing at all, never demonstrating outwardly the rage that I'm feeling and the source of my rage, as a result, is never any the wiser. You see, instead of saying anything, I perform small acts of absurdity that make me feel inwardly satisfied and (somehow) that the situation has been rectified.
I once had a roommate that was frequently the source of these sorts of sentiments. * I realize that pretty much everyone has had a roommate that enrages them from time to time, but you have to understand that I (miss butt) almost never get angry. It takes quite a lot. It takes something like consistently not cleaning up any of the messes that you make in the kitchen, scarcely ever turning off your air conditioner and then not ever once reimbursing me for your portion of the electric bill, moving your boyfriend into the apartment without even mentioning it to me first, asking me to dish out upwards of $100 for the communal goodies you purchased for the apartment and then taking them all with you when you moved, inviting hordes of people over for dinner parties without making me aware that there would be a dinner party (furthermore not inviting me to join in and then leaving your dishes for me to wash)… it takes all of this, and then yelling at me for spilling oatmeal on the stove and forgetting to reimburse you for some gas money (no, I'm not still bitter… really).
Regardless, I had a roommate that did all of this (and more). I never made it evident to her that I was inwardly furious. I never once said a thing when she left her dishes; I simply scrubbed in disgruntled silence, pretending that I was being a cheerful giver. Not ever did I mention her two weeks' worth of mail stacked on the table, or her insistence that I split with her the (absurdly $80/month) cable bill even though I never watched t.v. (not that I could actually – she had a pretty strong grip on that remote; the strongest I've seen to date, I believe). I refrained from ever mustering anything but a lovely smile because to me it wasn't worth a fight. It wasn't worth making my living situation any less tolerable than it already was.
So instead, I ate her cereal in the mornings, folding the bag back up nice and neat and leaving it just the way she had left it.
I took her car twice during the day while she was at work to go shopping in
I used her shave gel in the shower; I used her laundry detergent despite the fact that I had a perfectly good (and full) bottle of it that I even preferred over hers. I think I took a book of hers once too. I lent the book to Alejandra who then lent it to someone else, who lent it to yet another person. We had this discussion over this past New Years actually, at which point I had completely forgotten about the book only to learn that it had traveled across 4 states, two countries, and at least one gender. I don't think said roommate even realizes that it's missing. That's ok… she has at least 2 of my CDs and a book that she never returned.
I always knew that my reactions were irrational. I knew they were, but I didn't want to stop them because they were small, internal victories for me. She was the self-proclaimed smarter, more capable, and less ridiculous roommate. She never shied away from sharing this opinion with me (often in the company of several other peers). So to me, she wasn't even worth outwardly standing up to. It felt better to "beat" her in ways that she would never know about.
Now, believe me, I realize that I wasn't beating her every time I poured myself a bowl of her Peanut Butter Puffins; but I at least felt like I was beating someone at something which in turn didn't make me feel like I had to beat her so much.
The breaking point – the day of absolute insanity – came when I agreed to help Alejandra move out of her apartment and into a new one (into the apartment building of the late and famed intern, Chandra Levy). Roommate had generously agreed to allow me the use of her car for the occasion on the condition that I had it back by 5:30 so that she could go grocery shopping with a friend.
Alejandra and I got an early start. Well, let me rephrase that: I got an early start. As I recall, when I arrived at her apartment, Alejandra was still frantically stuffing clothing from her closet (still on the hanger) into oversized plastic trash bags.
It took us nearly an hour to load up the first load and about 15 minutes to drive the 18 or so blocks to her new place. Add another hour to unload and drive back for the next trip. I don't remember how many loads we did, but this process took us all day. The unfortunate part is that Alejandra had to be moved out by the end of that day and I was the only person she knew with access to a car. So here I was completely stuck at around 5:00 or so in the afternoon as we were still loading up the last of her belongings. I knew it would take time to finish up, unload, and drive all the way back across town to get the car back.
I called the roommate at 5:30 to let her know that I was almost on my way back, but was going to be a bit late. She wasn't thrilled, but she didn't say anything. Honestly… she was going grocery shopping. No big deal, right?
Friends, I did my absolute best, but the car didn't get back to her until 6PM. And apparently this was too late to go grocery shopping because all of her plans were already ruined. Additionally, in my anxiety and haste in getting the car back, I forgot to fill up the tank.
Two days later I woke up to a rant over some oatmeal that I had splashed on the burner the night before. She told me she was trying not to be a bitch. She told me that she didn't want to seem unreasonable, but the oatmeal was grossing her out and there's no excuse for why I hadn't cleaned it up. She then handed me a sponge and said in mock sweetness,
"And also, I don't mean to be rude or anything… and I'm really trying not to be annoyed (long sigh), but it's usually customary to put gas in someone's tank when you've used their car…"
I smacked my forehead, apologized profusely, and then handed her a $20 bill for the $5-$10 of gas that I'd used.
And then I raided her closet when she left for work.
I don't know what came over me, but something had to be done. I made a grab for the new suit that she'd just had tailored to fit. It was still wrapped in the plastic bag – I made sure not to destroy the integrity of the wrapping.
Slipping into that suit was like slipping into a suit of armor. This is the real definition of a power suit. I zipped the zipper and felt awesome. I buttoned the buttons and felt even awesomer (oh shoosh. I don't care if it's not a word). I didn't care that I was a size 8 and she was a size 14. I didn't care that I might splatter some peppercorn ranch dressing on the lapel during lunch. I didn't even care that our third roommate (and my co-worker) might notice.
OK – so maybe I cared about that last portion just a little bit. Or, at least I did when co-worker saw me in the suit and her face lit up like a grand opening at Bloomingdale's.
"MOE! Where did you get that suit?! That looks amazing on you (apparently I can pull off a few sizes too large?)!"
This made me… well, a bit nervous. I stepped carefully the rest of the day and regretted ever breaking into roommate's closet. What if she came home early from work and saw me wearing it? What if co-worker recognized the suit the next time she wore it? What if I really did splatter peppercorn ranch on the lapel?
The regret bumper-carred it's way through my brain the rest of the day and by 6PM, I was a wreck. The office wanted to go out for drinks, but all I wanted to do was run home and (carefully) change out of this damned suit. Ugh! My stupid stunts! My ridiculous passive aggressive behavior!
Somehow, I managed not to get caught. Well, not by the offending roommate anyway. Third roommate/co-worker became one of my allies over the months that we spent living with the offender. We were both aware of her begrudging behavior and as a result were both in a similar boat. Many weeks later, roommate wore that very same suit to work and then met us all for drinks afterward. Co-worker looked once, and then twice, and then glanced my way with a smile. She never said anything, but I knew that she knew. And I knew that I wouldn't have to explain my outrageous behavior to her. So we left it at that: a quick glance, and a knowing smile.
Friends, I still do stupid things on a daily basis.
Luckily, I don't have roommates anymore.
* I realize that after this entire story you might think that I was rooming with a complete and utter disaster. The fact is that she was really ready to have her own place with her boyfriend and didn't have much use for roomates. The other truth tis that she had a hard time cleaning up after herself... wait, I already highlighted that. Regardless, we get along much better now that we're not rooming together. It also helps that I only see her once ever two years or so.
| Currently listening : |
By Arcade Fire