Saturday, August 21, 2004

Roommates

...and so we arrive at my college years (lest you forgot, I did mention I would be talking about this in a future journal entry.) First a little background (you may want to grab a cup of coffee and a snack, this is a long one). I began thinking about college in earnest in my sophomore year of high school. Is that normal? I don't know. All I know is I was getting a LOT of college brochures in the mail and I kept requesting more and more. One of the schools I showed an early interest in had this cool program that was sort of like "Big Sisters" where you stayed with an upper-classman for the weekend and they gave you the grand tour of campus and an insiders view of college life. What was my weekend like? Let's just say I was looking forward to college like a kid looks forward to Christmas!

I had a nasty falling out with my first boyfriend in my Junior year over a prom dispute (more details on that in a future "Boyfriends" post) and a subsequent lousy time at my prom. The whole affair soured me on male/female relationships and helped determine the course of my future. I decided that I would need a school with fewer distractions, a small community feel like my high school (I didn't want to become just another student number), and a strong foundation in my faith (another Catholic school). What fit the bill to a T? Small, all female, Catholic colleges. Call it temporary insanity.

I narrowed my choices down to three schools. I was accepted to all three, to my great delight. The final choice was NOT easy! Pressure from my best friend, Kathleen, and my on again/off again first boyfriend Ray helped me decide on the school that was closest to home...Regis College in Weston, MA. The very same school where I'd spent my first "college weekend". I still wish I had cut those ties and gone with my REAL first choice - Sweet Briar in Virginia (if you have actually heard of this school, I'll be shocked.) Hindsight is 20/20, eh?

I danced with joy when that fat envelope arrived from Regis with all that fun stuff a new student needs to know. I had to fill out and send in this VERY detailed questionnaire to match me up with my first roommate. I was as honest as possible since I really wanted this girl to be as compatible as possible. The very first question was Smoker/Non-Smoker. My friend Chris had taught me how to smoke, but even then it was not something I did often. I decided a non-smoker would be a much better choice. I could give up my once a week cigarette habit in order to keep my new room from stinking and my lungs from giving me fits. No problem!

A couple months later I got a letter from the school with the name, address and phone number of my new roommate, Melissa M. We were off to a great start! She had an annoying alliterative first/last name combo just like me (Rebecca R.) I wrote her a letter to introduce myself and she replied, on scented pink stationary with cute bunnies on it. Hmm. Alarm bells went off, but I shoved my growing unease aside.

I packed up my life into milk crates and left for my first year at school. I was more excited than I had ever been in my life! My parents helped me bring my stuff up to my new dorm room where I discovered that my new roommate was already moved in and settled. She had selected the bed by the window (the ONLY window), the larger closet, and had taken up 3 of the 4 available walls with her posters and stuff. A poster sized kitten hanging from a tree limb proclaimed "Hang In There Baby!", piles of stuffed animals on her bed included Care Bears and a Cabbage Patch doll, she had a large cork board full of photos of friends, family and *RETCH* cheerleaders!! Her family looked like something out of a tennis magazine...preppy, polo'd and plastic. I was horrified! Some of them were sitting on my future bed. They eventually moved out of my way as introductions were exchanged. Missy (gag) took great pleasure in introducing me to her boyfriend Gregg, who had an iron-clad grip on her hand. He was short, like her, but very good looking. He oozed "possessive" from every pore.

When our families all left, Missy and Gregg sat on her bed and promptly pretended I wasn't there. I decided to unpack and decorate my, er, space. I plastered my favorite David Lee Roth poster (him half nude in a swimming pool) at the head of my bed and Eddie Van Halen and my other fav VH posters on my wall. I was a HUGE Van Halen fan at that point in my life. I liked lots of other bands too, mostly heavy metal, but VH was number one in my heart. I place my one lone stuffed animal, if you could call it that, on my bed. It was a neon green alien named Fred with 2 long legs and a long shock of neon orange fluffy hair all over his head. It was a frustration doll - you grasped it by the legs and shook the crap out of it until you felt better. It did wonders for fluffing up Fred's hair and releasing pent up emotions. Fred was a gift from my friend Pam. She "got" me.

I was busily arranging items on my little desk and trying to ignore the sounds of sucking face behind me when I caught a whiff of a very familiar smell. I spun around and found Missy and her guy passing a joint back and forth between them. I don't know exactly what expression I had on my face, but whatever it was it made Missy snort smoke out her nose as she laughed at me. Gregg held the joint out to me and I just shook my head and went back to my organizing. They were both giggling behind me. I was a little annoyed but not really bothered. After the doobie, Missy lit up a ciggy. Now THAT bothered me. I watched her smoke for a few moments and finally said, "Didn't you say you were a NON-SMOKER on your profile?"

She took a long drag, made some smoke rings, and replied, "Well, yeah. I didn't want to get stuck with a smoker. I don't mind MY smoke, but I hate other peoples smoke. Makes me want to gag." I was livid! I had given up smoking for this girl?? OK, so I didn't really have a "habit" per se, but her attitude just ran up my spine like nails on a chalkboard. Things went from bad to worse. I had NOTHING in common with her. She was snobby, stuck up, rich, and spoiled. The ex-cheerleader pranced around the place like she owned the world. She had graduated from some snooty prep school, got a car as her graduation present, and was screwing around behind her pretty boyfriend's back. He was a really nice guy. He always apologized when Missy would lock me out of our room so they could get busy. I wanted to tell him that his devoted girlfriend was picking up a different guy every night at various frat parties around the area and bringing them back to OUR ROOM. Grrrr! What a slut. I asked our resident advisor that first week how to go about changing roommates. I was told you were not allowed to switch for 3 months. I was in for a looooonnnnng 3 months.

The last straw was the weekend I decided to bring my laundry home, for a change. I made my bed, gave Fred a good jostle and propped him up on my pillow, kissed my fingertips and planted them on David Lee's fine full lips and waltzed out the door. When I returned Sunday night, the room was jam packed with people...a full blown party! Strangers and dorm residents were sitting all over my bed smoking and drinking, David Lee had been torn off my headboard and was being trampled on the floor, my bedspread was wadded up and shoved against the wall (it was soaked with beer, I soon discovered) and, to my increasing horror, something was wrong with Fred. My classy, well-bred, prep school trained roomy had given Fred a mohawk. Most of his shocking orange hair had been shaved off his little green head. Many in the room giggled at me as I inspected the damage to Fred's do. I snapped! With quiet menace in my voice, I asked the people on my bed to get out. With increasing volume I told everyone to GET OUT. Missy gave me a dismissive tsk and told everyone to move to her friend's room down the hall. Then she turned to me and asked "What's your problem??"

Oh what a question. First I asked why David Lee was on the floor. She rolled her eyes at me and said "I hate that poster. His eyes were following me around the room and creeping me out, so I tore it down. You can always put it back up...no problem." I eyed the beer stains and large foot print in the middle of Dave's face and wanted to smack her. Hard. I continued to tell her in excruciating detail what my problems were...with HER.

Finally I sat on my bed, hugged Fred to my chest and asked "Why did you do this to Fred?" At first she laughed at me and then, seeing the tears welling up in my eyes, she stammered out some bull about how she didn't know how much the stupid doll meant to me. That wasn't the point. I felt violated.

At the end of classes on Monday, I returned to my dorm room to find all my belongings in the hallway and this girl Laurie from down the hall moving her stuff in. Laurie wouldn't even look at me. Missy came out grinning - all peppy, preppy and plastic - and told me that she complained to Housing about me and got the OK to switch roommates. I said nothing. I just picked up my stuff and walked away from her. I walked into Laurie's old room and found her now former roommate, Jennifer, sitting on an empty bed and sobbing. Apparently, unlike me, she never saw this coming. She thought Laurie was her new best friend. Jenn had never heard the nasty things Laurie would say about her when she wasn't around. Things like...Jenn didn't wash her sweaters often enough...Jenn was too clingy...Jenn was annoying...blah blah blah. Laurie was nothing but nice to Jennifer's face, and a heinous bitch behind her back. I introduced myself, sat down next to her, and listened to her tell me all about the great stuff she and Laurie would do together...how she didn't understand why Laurie was leaving her like this.

I thought about leaving her in the dark with her wonderful delusion, but I decided she was better off knowing the truth about her "perfect" roommate. It took a lot of convincing, but I got some unexpected help from Grace, our friendly neighborhood Lesbian punk rock girl from the end of the hall (Grace was the first proudly gay person I had ever met...I liked her a lot). She overheard the crying and poked her head in, listened to me tell the truth about Laurie, and she came up with some choice examples of things Laurie had said within her earshot as well.

Jenn ended up being a fantastic roommate, and one of my closest friends for many years after I left school (she is the one who ended up pregnant and backed out of my wedding party - if you read my post about my wedding). She also talked me into trying out for the acclaimed Regis Women's Chorus. We had a great time traveling to off campus performances, hanging out with her friends from back home, going to parties, playing tennis and trying to pick up guys. I'll have to do a post just about our exploits together. We had some wild times!

Laurie's loss was my big gain. Those two bitches really deserved each other. Oh! They also drove each other CRAZY! Laurie even slept with handsome Gregg behind Missy's back. You could often hear their yelling all the way down the hall. Joy!

While I am on the subject of roommates, I couldn't leave without mentioning the second worst roommate I ever had. You would think I'd learned my lesson about having a roommate after the Missy incident; but no. I couldn't afford a nice apartment on my own when I was desperate to move away from home, so I started looking at ads on the bulletin board at work where people would post things for sale or rent. I went to look at this place in Marlboro this girl advertised. I am drawing a blank on her name, at the moment, but I am sure John will remind me when he reads this. [Tara, hun. Her name was Tara.] Oh yeah! That was it.

The place was a really nice 2 family house. The landlord lived in the other half, and Tara and I would share. It was a 3 story place...living room, half-bath, kitchen with huge pantry, large entryway and closet on the first floor, her space on the 2nd, and two rooms with a tiny bathroom on the 3rd floor. I would have a bedroom and use the other room as sort of a second living room so I could have privacy. We shared the first floor. It was a really nice place for the money and she didn't seem too bad...a bit quiet. It's always the quiet ones...

She was a witch. I don't mean her personality! She was a practicing Wiccan! She burned incense, made her own celebration robes, and had an altar of sorts in her room (I snuck a peek one day). I came home one time to yards and yards of damp black cloth stretched the circumference of our living room. Apparently she had hand dyed it black and it was stretched out to dry. She was also very active in the SCA (those folks who like to do the Renaissance fairs). She warned me that at certain times she would be up at midnight and would be nude in the living room. Umm, ok. I could deal with all of the above. It was her weird boyfriend and how they acted together that really freaked me out. He was a rather rotund redhead with more freckles than I had ever seen (she was petite with short, jet black hair)...he looked JUST like Alfred E. Newman. You know, the guy on the cover of MAD magazine? I swear to God!

Anyway...after several months of peaceful coexistence, Tara came to me one day to announce that when her boyfriend was visiting, I should plan to just stay in my room. They wanted to feel free to, uh, do it where ever and when ever the mood struck. Yeah. I didn't feel too comfortable with that arrangement, but I really liked my space and the rent was really affordable. Then she announced he was going to move in with her and I had to find a new place. Since I had never signed the lease, I had no leg to stand on and fight her. She gave me only 3 weeks to find a new home. I don't know why I didn't stand up to her and demand more time. Maybe I feared waking up one day with no hair or a bad case of warts? Ah well. It became a moot point since only one week after she told me to move out, I lost my job and wouldn't be able to afford the rent anyway. I was forced to move back home, again.

My final thought? (Bet you never thought I would end this post, huh.) But seriously; I never had another roommate again - until I moved in with the love of my life, that is. I still highly recommend living alone, if you have the choice. ;-)

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