The walls of my old apartment were not at all like a beautiful woman. And neither was the woman who owned it. Knowing full well I was in Texas for a couple of weeks, she called and left me the following message: "(Safey), it (Insane Landlady Bitch). You no at house when I stop by. You unstable. You artist. I no renew lease for you. You call me."
So I dialed her number, hands shaking, ready to curse up a storm. But my phone would not connect. So I waited until I was calmer and e-mailed her a message reminding her that I was in Texas, that I had received her very rude message, and that I would look for a new apartment. I then broke the news to my new, not-shitty roommate (who was also in TX) and began searching Craigslist for apartments instead of sperm recipients.
Things looked promising. There were loads of apartments available, and many of them were affordable and close to the comic book store, where I'm now officially working.
Then I had my eventful trip home with Ben and the bus people. And I called my landlady. She did not call back. Days passed into week. I e-mailed. She failed to respond. Unfuck her.
So, my new roommate, Byrne, said he'd help look for a new apartment, and another poetry friend of mine, Mike (not a Michael, Mike) said that he and his imaginary friend were looking for an apartment. So we pooled our resources. Spent a couple of days searching through Craigslist, and then Mike found three or four apartments that we should look at.
We only made it to the first one.
How to describe the oasis of freshly laid Greek marble tiles, bamboo, stainless steel kitchen appliances, a washer and dryer without coin slots, a stunning lack of rats. There aren't enough words. Out of our price range comes to mind, but it wasn't. It was...$150 a month cheaper than where I was currently living with Divine the Nowhere Near Great and Just Plain Old Terrible. So we took it. No look at other, more expensive apartments was necessary. Though, something about the way the landlady smiled when she talked made me uneasy, Mike assured me she was a great person.
That night, while changing the trash at three a.m. an acrobatic rat did a backflip out of the trash can and hit me in the face. A sure sign I was not meant to stay. There was also a certain smell to the apartment. Mike suggested it was something dead, I noted that I hadn't seen Divine for a while. I optimistically opened the door to her room, but her corpse was not there, and neither was a great deal of her stuff. So she must have moved out. Cool, I'd alert my lawyer.
The following day, Mike, his imaginary friend and I went to sign the new lease (Byrne was working). Sure enough, when I got there there were three people in the room besides me: the new landlady, Mike, and MybuddyDex (the aforementioned imaginary friend). He seemed almost real. While we were signing, someone knocked on the door, another one of Mike's friends that I'd assumed to be imaginary (who also thought MybuddyDex was imaginary, and vice-versa). He'd just moved in down the street and was serving as a guarantor for us.
The ink on the lease was barely dry when my phone rang, it was Byrne, who'd just arrived at our old apartment. "Your Crazy Landlady is here. She's yelling something about you not calling or something."
I groaned and muttered. There was less than a day left in August. Soon she and her madness would be behind me.
"We should check out the neighborhood." Mike said.
A great idea. So we wandered over to the nearest grocery store to check it out. It was...huh. Sawdust on the floor. Hysterically laughing employees. Spam EVERYWHERE. And more types of pudding than The Geneva Convention allows for.
"Pudding!" Mike said. And we shit talked and wandered around and..."Hey, where'd MyBuddyDex go?"
We looked around and around. No sign of him.
"Fuck." I said. "You've got to concentrate harder, Mike. Everytime you lose focus one of us disappears, like the people on Michael J. Fox's photograph in Back To The Future."
We went to the checkout counter, where there was still no sign of MyBuddyDex.
"I think he's gone forever." Mike mused.
The checkout girl said "Should we page him?"
Of course we should page him. So we did "MyBuddyDex to the front of the store please, your parents are waiting for you and very worried."
"Guys." MyBuddyDex said. "I'm right here. I've been here the whole time. Why were you guys talking about me like I wasn't."
Oh, this apartment is so going to rule.
Outside, on our way back to the apartment, we caught a glimpse of a harvesty moon. "So beautiful."
"What?" Asked Mike's Other Imaginary Friend.
"The moon." Mike said.
"I can't see it."
"Why?" Mike asked. "Because you're Jewish?"
"It's true. The only drawback to being one of the Chosen People. You can't see the moon."
I cocked my head. "The Chosen People. You're a Pokemon? Guarantor, I choose you! Lease signing attack!"
To which Mike's Other (Witty) Imaginary Friend replied "Guarantor! Guarantor!"
Oh, this apartment is definitely going to rule. But first I had to go back to the old place to pack my shit for the move.
I packed for a day. Wasn't totally finished, but had a good lead on it. Byrne and I took four trips back and forth to the new apartment using his Rav4. The next day we had a van rented, and were ready to move the big furniture. We were tired after trip four and ready to sleep. I went into the kitchen and rearranged my refrigerator magnets to read Worst Landlady Bitch ever. So, of course, there was a knock on the door. Worst Fucken Landady Bitch ever.
"Hi (Safey). You look so good. Very nice. I renew yo lease. You stay, I think. Been try to call, but you no answer."
The fuck? The hallway was clearly filled with boxes, it was the last day of,...scratch that, it's now September 1st, but just barely. There was no way I was staying the fuck there.
"Sorry" you insane bitch "but I already have a new apartment. Cheaper. Nicer." And the landlady is normal.
"But, I think, you, Celeste, all you friends been living here eight years total. Always one of you. I renew lease."
"I'm not staying. Look, I've been cleaning as much of the apartment as I can, scrubbing the bathroom and everything."
"Ok." She said. "Looks very nice. Maybe I see kitchen."
Yes, kitchen where the refrigerator is, and the magn..."Uhhh, actually, I have a question..." We stood there blinking at each other. What was my question? "Shelves! There are shelves in the closet. Should I leave them? Throw them out?"
"I like shelves. I keep. Now, kitchen..."
"Oh, and my computer desk. Should I leave that?"
"I see." And so I went through every piece of furniture I didn't want one at a time, and then asked inane questions about whatever I could think of. Maybe Byrne had heard and had already rearranged the magnets. And maybe if I imagine hard enough, flowers will sprout out of my ass (though why anyone would want that to happen, I have no idea).
The stalling eventually worked, and she never made it to the kitchen. "You have one week to move out stuff. No worry bout hurry. I rhyme. I artist too." I'm sure she meant to say unstable.
The next day, after I got done with work, I met Mike and MyBuddyDex at my old apartment, we loaded furniture (including Byrne's GIGANTIC bed), and headed to the new place to unload it. Then we went back for smaller things. Byrne joined us, replacing MyBuddyDex who had to go to work. During our last packing session, Mike fell asleep on a mattress in Divine's former room.
When Byrne and I were just about done, he awoke with a scream. "Dude, there was a mouse in my ear."
"I woke up and a mouse was nuzzling my ear. I've got to get out of here."
I knew exactly how he felt.
I hate my roommate. Owes money. Stinks up the house. Steals my porn. Won't leave.
My boyfriend[?], Sora, hates his roommate as well. I'm not sure as to why. But last year I lived with him for four months, and I suspect that the person responsible for their antagonistic relationship is him. But I love him, so I don't tell him this.
One of his major problems is that his roommate has been letting one of her friends crash on their couch since the day they moved in, nearly a month ago. This guy doesn't pay rent, or any bills. Aside from that, I know very little about him.
Late one night a few weeks ago, Sora calls me to say "Ewww. So, you know how I told you my roomtwat's friend has been crashing on our couch?"
I reply in the affirmative.
"Well, an hour ago, for the third time, I walked in while he was jerking off."
"Have you told him that you have a bathroom with a lock on the door?"
He laughs, and continues with his bitching. A week later, I decide to come visit his apartment. As soon as we get in the door, the couchjerker flits his eyes at us, lowers his head and says hey. He's adorable. If I had this guy on my couch, I would ORDER him to jerk off whenever I came home.
Sora feels differently, he grumbles in the couchjerker's direction, and pulls me into his bedroom. After watching a couple of hours of Drawn Together, we get down to the busy busy. There's some head involved, some ass slappage, some anal, and a little more head for good measure. We aren't as loud as usual, but we weren't completely silent.
After toweling off, I open the door and walk to the bathroom to pee. As soon as I enter the living room, couchjerker shoots me this horrified look, prompting me to put on my serious face, and my fuck you voice and say "What are you looking at? You don't pay rent here. You don't get to look at me like that. If we're too loud for you, fuck you, find your own apartment." Then I walk into the kitchen, burst out laughing, pop my head back into the living room and say "I'm just kidding."
He does not laugh back.
The next morning, the three of us are all in the living room. Sora is playing Kingdom Hearts (I know, I know), I'm alternating between massaging his back and checking my e-mail, and couchjerker is sitting on the couch, continuing to look traumatized. He looks as though he is constantly watching someone rape his favorite kitten. It's almost cute, but not quite.
At around noon, Sora realizes, holy shit, it's almost noon, and he has to leave for work at 12:30. So he gets up, goes to his room, and closes the door behind him. I follow. And, as I'm wont to do, I stand behind him, wrap my arms around his chest and kiss him, giving rise to both his spirits and his cock. I grab on to it, and start slowly pulling it up,.
"I've got to leave for work in fifteen minutes." He says. "We don't have time to....ohhhhhhh. I mean..."
I know what he means. Usually, if we're finished in less than an hour, one or both of us has fallen asleep. Fifteen minutes for both of us?
I'm determined to make this work.
Off come his pants, off come my pants. I press my cock between his prodigious buttocks cheeks while I jerk him off. Then I kneel down, turn him around so we're facing each other, and put some serious smack to his ass while I blow him. He explodes rather quickly.
I lean back on his bed and stare at my cock. "Do we have time?" He asks.
Of course we do.
"But, I'm terrible at giving head." He says. This is not true. I'm not a big fan of getting head. I don't mind it. It beats listening to Slipknot while monkeys throw pudding at you, but I much prefer anal. But Sora is...well, I love him, so his tongue gets bonus points.
He doesn't use much tongue. He is mostly lips, moving so fast, I swear he's gonna get whiplash. And within a minute I watch a web of come blossom between his lips. I didn't even know I was....and then I feel the wave. And then another, and another and a...wow.
We towel off, and Sora gets dressed for work. I grab my backpack, and get ready to head home.
We stop in the kitchen to grab a couple of sodas. Couchjerker is in there, looking...well, yea, traumatized as usual. In an effort to make him uncomfortable, without being mean (mostly because I find it funny), I start small talking with him. At this point, the roommate (who I hadn't met yet) comes out of her room, wearing her work clothes, and starts loudly bitching about being late for work, and how she hates this and that and yadda and yin and yang and whatever.
I roll my eyes, and turn back toward couchjerker. I squeeze his arm as I say "It was nice to meet you."
He barks like a dog who's had his tail stepped on, causing Sora to laugh. A swooping laugh that turns into a cough. A cough that launches web of come out of his mouth and on to the left breast of his roommate's waitress uniform.
Unable to resist, I say "Damn. That's the first time my come has been on a woman's tits since the early nineties."
Sora continues to choke laughter. Couchjerker continues to look traumatized. The roommate just shoots me a disgusted look, and walks back into her room.
I really must visit Sora more often.
I hate Divine. Forgetting the $1200 she owes me, the smell of the wretched food she cooks at three in the morning, and the way she blasts 'NSync and the Backstreet Boys when she thinks I'm not home (seriously, what year is this? 1998?), the real reason I don't like her is because...I don't like her. Not the way she looks, not the way she smells, not the way she acts, not the way she laughs, nothing.
Before I realized how much I despised her, we were talking about roommate boundaries. Not just the usual "don't eat my food" crap, or the "kindly don't wipe your gargantuan behind on my nice clean towels" plea, but the discussion of physical boundaries. Specifically, the door between our rooms. It's a French door. I don't mean it surrenders every time someone knocks on it, that it forces its tongue down your throat when you kiss, or that it creaks with an accent egu, I mean it's one of those doors that slides into the wall, instead of folding open and closed on hinges. It covers nearly the entire wall between my bedroom and hers. And while it closes enough to keep someone from accidentally getting a look into the other person's room, it does fuck all for preventing noise pollution. But, apart from the occasional pop music violation, it's usually not a problem.
A couple of months ago, I came back from visiting my racist grandmother at about two-thirty in the morning. I was exhaustired. I'd mowed her lawn, replaced he mailbox, walked her evil evil dog, and then gotten home just in time to miss the last T (the Boston subway) home, which meant I'd had to walk a couple of miles. When I got home, all I wanted to do was drop into a coma. So I took off my clothes, flopped on my bed, and...and I noticed the music in the background. The faint warbling of Carrie Underwood. I wondered why Jesus was at the wheel at this time of night. Then I heard a weird hiccuping of air. Imagine an asthmatic frog trying to run a marathon, and you have some idea of this fantastically odd sound coming from underneath the French Pocket door.
Of course, I had to investigate.
I threw on my bathrobe and crept toward the door. Carrie Underwood gave way to Whitney Houston. I peered through the crack between the doors, and saw my roommate shoving a gigantic dildo up her ass while jerking off to a porn DVD. MY PORN DVD. Oh, Whitney, while you are certainly correct in you're assertion that "It's not right", I beg to differ with you about your next contention. It's not okay.
I walked back over to my bed, turned my radio on (sadly, it was not playing anything that fit the situation), and called my boyfriend, loudly discussing my visit to racist grandma, and how distressed I was that my favorite porn DVD was missing. As soon as the radio clicked on, she let out a rather large hiccup, muted both the TV and her computer (from which the evil music was coming), and stopped producing any sound at all.
Now, at the time, Sora and I were doing the are we or aren't we dating, and even if we aren't how do we feel about fucking every now and then two step. We talked a lot on the phone, but rarely saw each other. This made me horny and irritable. Since my roommate owed me money, and had taken to hiding from me whenever I was home, she became the target of much of my rage. Still, if the bitch hadn't snuck into my room and stolen one of my porn DVDs (which, honestly, wasn't really my favorite), things might have gone differently.
A week after the night of hiccuping doom, I heard her talking on her cell phone. She told whoever was on the other end of the line how tired she'd been lately. How she had worked nine straight days (this was not true, she'd spent the entire previous day cowering in her room), and was really excited to have the next day off. "I'm totally sleeping in until four in the afternoon." She said.
The hell she was.
I grabbed my cell phone, walked outside, and called up Sora. "What are you doing tomorrow morning?" I asked.
"I dunno." He replied. "What are you doing tomorrow morning?"
He called me at five the next morning to let me know that he was just getting off the highway. I removed the lube and condoms from my desk. When he arrived, we spent about ten minutes loudly discussing our relationship, and how we could improve it.
"I wish you'd spank me more." He said.
I wasn't sure if he was serious, or trying to shock my roommate, who'd been making annoyed rustling sounds in her room since our discussion began.
I decided to err on the side of optimism, and yank him over my lap.
There was a loud thwap. This was followed by a "Oh, yeeeeeeeeah."
I giggled. Then I smacked his ass again. Then things got noisy. Smacks, sighs, grunts, the squishy squishy of lubricated skin in skin.
She turned her iTunes on.
We got louder.
She turned her computer volume to full blast.
We got louder.
At some point, the utter ridiculous level of our passion went from funny to really hot. No matter how loud her precious Justin Timberlake proclaimed that he was bringing sexy back, we brought it back louder and harder.
While I did register the slamming of her door, I didn't let it pause the best sex my Sora and I had had since...well, ever.
I don't know how long she was gone, or what she did while she was away. I just know that we were still going at it when I heard the front door slam shut, and a muffled "Are you fucken kidding me?" came from the hallway. Then the door shut again.
A few hours later, when we were both mostly spent, and watching Shin Chan episodes on his computer, Sora went into the kitchen to get something to drink.
When he came back in, he was wearing his evil grin that I find incredibly sexy. "Your roommate is in the kitchen." He whispered. "She doesn't look too happy."
"Why are we whispering?" I asked.
"Because I heard her say she was really looking forward to hanging out with whoever was on the other line of her phone, but she had to shower first."
I was puzzled. "So...why does that mean we have to whisper?"
"I figured now might be a good time for the two of us to take a long, hot, loud shower together."
Have I mentioned how much I love him?
So we were in the shower, finding interesting uses for the loofah, when I noticed her angrily shouting. I presumed it was into her call phone. "I know I told you I'd be there in an hour or so, but MY ASSHOLE FUCKEN ROOMMATE has been hogging the shower."
Sora laughed too, and began licking his way down my stomach. I had an idea where he was headed. I giggled to myself about how I'd turned headed into a sort of pun.
Sora wrapped his lips around my extremely happy and diligent cock. I let out a loud moan. Somewhere in the middle of my ear, I registered a sound. I couldn't place it, but I knew it carried a sort of foreboding. It was the sound of distant water running.
My body tensed as the water in the shower blasted from hot to cold. This was then followed by another unpleasant sensation: teeth. In the last place a guy wants to feel teeth.
I got louder.
And from the kitchen I heard my roommate getting the last laugh.
Divine: "What kind of gay man names his cat after a sports term?"
Me: "What kind of woman stands up to pee?"
Divine: "One with a penis."
Me: "See. Two different questions. Same answer."
I've been spending a great deal of time at my grandmother's house the last few weeks.As a result, I keep missing garbage day. There are about four full trash bags on my back porch. I made it a point to be home Thursday night, so I could put said trash bags out. I failed to remember. But I did wake up early Friday, to the sound of what, I assumed, was the garbage truck, so I hopped out of bed and on to the arm of the couch, in order to look out the window and see if I had time to get the garbage out. Before I got a clear look, my right leg slid down the arm of the couch, and inbetween the couch's frame and the arm. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.
I tried to pull my leg out of the couch, but my ankle was slightly too large. Ow. Shit. Ow. I pulled and pulled and ow.
I started seriously considering dialing 911. The problem being, my cell phone was on the other side of the room, and I was naked. Even if I dragged the couch behind me to the other side of the room, and reached my cell phone and my laundry, there was no way I could get any pants or shorts or boxers or anything around my right foot, what with it being inside the fucken ow couch.
I reached into the dirty laundry pile, threw on a sweatshirt, and wrapped a blanket around my waist. Then, I called Divine's name until she woke up.
"WHAT DO YOU WANT?" She called.
"I need a knife or something. I'm stuck in the couch."
I explained myself. She brought a knife. I cut into the arm of the couch and removed all the cushions. My ankle was stuck between a wooden slat in the arm, and a very pokey metal frame. Whenever I tried to pull my leg up or down, the metal frame would dig into the right side of my ankle, and the wood would scrape against the left side. Ow. Fuck. Ow.
"Should I call 911?" She asked.
I had now been standing on one foot for about ten minutes, with a blanket wrapped around my waist, and a sweatshirt on. If the paramedics showed up, I would, clearly, die of shame. "Yes. I think you should call 911."
"I'm going to use your phone." She said. "I don't want to waste my minutes."
I. Hate. Her.
Ten minutes later, the paramedics showed up. My leg was still in the couch. I said "Just wanted to make sure you had a story to tell when you got home tonight."
"This is nothing." The taller woman said, "The last guy--"
The other paramedic interrupted. "Don't tell him. Then he's going to think we're going to tell the next person about him."
"You aren't?" I asked.
After taking a look at my leg, the inside of the couch, and the rest of my room, the taller paramedic decided she'd use some of the scrap wood left over from my busted doorframe and wedge it between the arm and the frame to get my leg loose. Unfortunately, every time she pried the wood in, the frame dug further into my, ow, ankle.
"I don't know what else we can try." She said.
So they called the fire department.
Fifteen minutes later, four firefighters enter my bedroom. My leg had been in the couch for about forty-five minutes. I was still just wearing the blanket, the sweatshirt, and the couch. And I was still standing on one foot.
Three of the four firefighters were of normal to above average intelligence. One of them had the intellectual capacity of a cactus with blunt head trauma. He was the one in charge. Every time he wanted to look at the situation, he'd lean his full weight against the bottom of the couch, squeezing my, ow, ankle even tighter into the couch cunt.
"Please." I said. "Please don't lean on the couch that way. Could you lean on the arm, maybe?"
The paramedics move all the non-couch furniture, and my laundry, and my books to the other side of the room. The asshole firefighter, again, leaned on the, ow, couch.
"The frame is metal." He said. Fucken genius. "If we tried to cut through it, it'd spark like shit."
I grimace as he, ow, leaned down again. "Good thing the fire department is here, then, huh?"
"I guess we could saw through the wooden beam in the arm, but it's probably going to destroy the couch."
"I think the couch has it coming." I said.
So a firefighter went out to the truck, which must have been parked in Saskatchewan, given how long it took him to retrieve the battery powered saw. The battery powered saw which hadn't been charged.
I had been stuck in the couch for over an hour. The saw didn't work. Fucken Genius asked me "Do you have any electrical outlets?"
"No." I said. "I'm Amish. The TV and the computer run on hand cranks."
The taller paramedic and the other firefighters chuckled. Fucken Genius leaned on the, ow, couch. Asshole.
So another firefighter retrieved an electric saw, plugged it in, and sawed a beam in the arm of the couch. My leg popped right out. No bruise. No swelling.
"We're going to have to take you to the hospital to check it out." The not as tall paramedic said, as the firefighters departed.
"No." I said. "I'm okay." And I hopped up and down on the leg that had been caught in the couch. I really was okay.
So I signed a waiver explaining that I was stupid to not go to the hospital, but then again, I'd gotten my leg caught in a couch, so I was clearly not qualified for MENSA anyway.
Also, I missed the garbage truck.
I used to give my roommates, Celeste and Sir Trick, who were a couple, a hard time because every week or so I'd need to take a piss while they were busy fucking in the shower. When my boyfriend, Sora, moved in, I had to decide whether to take the high road, and not seek vengeance by long shower-fuck sessions, or take the low road, and see if we could make more noise.
For once in my life, I took the high road.
Apart from a couple of noise battles (when you try to prove how much better your sex is by increasing the volume of moans, shouts, and smack noises), we tended to let our sex remain private.
One afternoon, Sora and I were in the kitchen arguing over something stupid, and we heard the roommates getting it on. We ignored it. And after a half hour or so, Celeste came into the kitchen, with a huge glob of come on the front of her shirt. Sora and I contained most of our laughter, and didn't even say anything when she said "Oh my god, dude!", turned around, and ran into her room to change her shirt.
Later that night, after drinking enough Coronas to be declared official citizens of Mexico, Sora and I stumbled into our room for some loud, sloppy, lights out, almost sex. Because Sora had a nasty habit of falling directly asleep after orgasm, we had a standing/sitting/laying down agreement that I always got to come first. So I did. Once devoid of sperm, I knelt down to reciprocate, and Sora promptly rammed his cock into my nose. After the requisite name calling (I chose douchenozzle for this particular occasion) and ass smackage, I forged ahead with the fellatio.
Once he'd come, we made out for a bit, and then Sora decided to take a shower before he fell asleep. He threw a towel around his waist, and walked down the hallway to the bathroom. He was too tired to hear the water running, so when he opened the door, the apartment was filled with all three of my roommates screaming. Sora screamed because he'd walked in on Celeste and Trick's shower sex, and Celeste and Sir Trick screamed because Sora's face and belly were covered in blood. Apparently, he'd rammed my nose harder than either of us had realized.
The next day we put memo boards up on our bedroom doors, and the bathroom with "Occupied" and "Vacant" signs.
“What the fuck?” I scream.
And Ben peeks his head out from the kitchen. “What’s wrong?”
“You know that crazy bitch who’s moving into the room down the hall from me?”
“Yea.” he says, fluffing his hair, “I don’t like her.”
“She put an ad on Craigslist saying my room is for rent.”
“Are you sure it’s not for the room downstairs. I mean, if you don’t like her, maybe that Becky chick doesn’t like her either. It’s probably just a misunderstanding.”
I reread the ad. “No. There’s no misunderstanding. The headline is Shitty Roommate Must Go, and there’s fucken pictures of my room, with all my stuff in it."
“I’ll just finish making the tea then.”
I call Celeste, and start verge of tear bitching about this crazy situation, and how I can’t afford to put a deposit on a new place to live, and...and she says she’ll be over to Ben’s as soon as she can, in order to help me come up with new ideas about where I might move.
“You could stay here.” Ben says, and hands me a cup of tea.
“As long as you don’t mind sleeping on the van seat.”
I sip the tea. It’s wretched.
“Oh, I forgot to mix it with the orange juice. Want some?”
I decline. I’ve never liked orange juice.
“Suit yourself.” And he lights up a Galouises.
“Where’d you get that?” I ask. “I thought you told me that the convenience stores nearby were officially out of them, what with the whole French not exporting them here anymore.”
“Yea, but I keep finding stores with a couple packs left. I should just stop smoking them, but it’s like that exboyfriend who’s no good for you, who calls every once in a while, and you can’t help but invite him over and fuck him.”
“You are now, officially, the King of Analogies.”
He smiles. I get the chills.
“I kind of ground up the stems, so the tea is a little...thick. Next time I think I’ll leave the stems out.” Saying the tea was a little thick was like saying Don King was a little unscrupulous. A tad wordy. I use a spoon to chew the first half of the tea, chasing it with lemonade. The second half, I down as quickly as possible, but not as quickly as Ben does. “Is it hitting you yet?” He asks, his eyes: a cat watching a nuclear explosion.
“I don’t know.” We head up to his roof to smoke, and watch the sun consume the city around us. A hot guy comes up and starts doing tai chi in front of us. This is the best high ever. My phone rings. It’s Celeste. She'’s downstairs waiting to be let in. While I go downstairs, Ben grinds up another batch of tea.
“Your eyes.” She says. “Have you been crying? You looked positively wrecked.”
But I’m not wrecked. I’m rebuilding.
When I was sixteen, I made a bet with my mother. I would not be caught smoking, drinking, or doing drugs between the time the bet was placed, and my twenty-firstbirthday. If I succeeded, she’d buy me my first used car.
Years later, I learned that the actual bet wasn’t that I wouldn’t get caught, but that I wouldn’t do any of those things. But by the time my mother passed this revelation on to me, I was already on my second car, and was in no financial position to reimburse her for the first one.
I have a very competitive nature. Not only was I fixated on winning the bet, but I also gauged my rate of drinking, smoking, and doing drugs against the rates of my friends. I figured, if I was smoking, drinking, and doing drugs less often than my friends, then I wouldn’t get caught, I would win my car, and I would have the satisfaction of being a better person.
While I did have a brief addiction to cigarettes when I was twenty-one, I generally only smoke a cigarette or two every six months, when I’m exceptionally stressed. I drink socially, and until I started spending time with Ben, I had been decidedly antisocial. I’ve also held true to my ideal of drug usage. I don’t pay for them. Ever. This way, I don’t run the risk of becoming addicted to them. I do drugs on a purely peer pressure basis. For the most part, I only smoke pot. And again, not very often. Apart from pot, and a few cups of mushroom tea when I lived in Burlington, Vermont, I’ve only ever done one drug, mescaline. I was sixteen, and my high school roommate (thank you, boarding school education), JBob, had bought some from another student. He’d never done it before, I’d certainly never done it before, so we decided we’d do it together, and invited our friend Matt to hang out with us so that we wouldn’t do anything stupider than the sort of things we usually did when we were together.
About an hour after we took it, we weren’t feeling anything. Neither of us had ever been buzzed from any of the pot we smoked, so we decided that our experiment with mescaline was a failure, and decided we would go into town and watch a movie. As luck would have it, there was a brand new movie out that all three of us (me, JBob, and Matt) wanted to see: Natural Born Killers.
Well, the mescaline kicked in at some point during the movie. I don’t know when. I don’t know what I hallucinated and what was actually in that fucked up movie. All I know is, I haven’t been able to watch the movie since. I also haven’t touched mescaline since.
“Have you ever done speed?” Ben asks. It’s Labor Day, and we’ve just finished an extra large pizza, a bottle of Jack Daniels, two liters of Coke, and four hours of watching the Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston reality show.
“Never.” I say.
“You’ve got to try it.” He says. “I got so much writing done when I was on speed. I mean, it was all terrible, but I used to get sooooo much accomplished. You’d love it. I mean, I’ve always been hyper. My mom used to say I was like a kid on speed, but the truth is I totally was a kid on speed.” Ben kicks his voice up an octave. “Look at my Lego castle. I used 2,458 pieces. The princess sleeps in this room. See the way the drawbridge works…” and he is talking a mile a second, and I am laughing too hard to keep up, because it isn’t that he was a kid on speed when he was a kid, he’s a kid on speed now, just without the actual speed...or the kiddiness.
He talks like this all the way to the bus stop, during the entire trip to his house, and most of the way to the grocery store where we are, for some reason, buying a coffee grinder, lemon juice, lemonade, apples, nectarines, and bananas.
“I haven’t had bananas in ages.” I say, setting him up for a gay joke.
“Why not?” He asks.
“I don’t know. I like them, but I mostly have apples when I’m feeling healthy. Apples are my favorite fruit.”
Ben smiles. “I thought I was your favorite fruit.”
When a cute guy walks by him in the cereal aisle, Ben’s eyes and body follow the cute guy to the left. I push his left shoulder and he turns to the right, toward me. “I wonder if that’s an instinct?” He asks of his newly discovered navigation control.
“I don’t know. But there are other portions of your body I’d like to press to find out what happens.”
He shakes his head. “Booooo.” And then, “Have you ever done opium?”
“No.” I’ve always been leery of opium. All those terrible TV spots tell you that marijuana is a gateway drug, but they never mention which drugs it opens the gate to. Opium, from all the Burroughs I’ve read, is the gateway drug to heroin. And while I have no fear of needles in doctors’ offices, I have no desire to start sticking them into my arm, taint, or spine on a regular basis. Plus, I’ve never been turned on by young Arab boys, or shooting a loved one in the face.
“It’s a really mellow high.” He says. “It’s like the anti-speed. Of course, it makes you really nauseous and shit, but that’s totally okay because when you do opium, you do opium with your friends, and puking is like conversation when everyone’s high.”
“I don’t think vomit is a language I want to speak.”
“You’ll love it.” He says. And on the way back from the grocery store, we stop at a florist, where we buy a dozen dried poppies.
While Ben grinds the poppies in his newly acquired coffee grinder, I check my e-mail. Note from my mom’s boyfriend letting me know that my mother may have cancer, porn spam, invitation to a lesbian wedding, Viagra spam, and an e-mail from Celeste:
Dude, my roommate was going through Craigslist looking for an apartment
for his new girlfriend, when he found this ad. Isn't that your room?
It's 3:15. Soon the buses will be leaving. But now the parking lot is swarming with campers. Ross is doing the robot in the middle of it. Grant is crying near the bushes. Allyson is bouncing a soccer ball on her head. Eric is digging in the sand, as usual. I don't know who the twins are, but they won't stop poking me. Where the fuck are all the counselors? I shouldn't be left by myself with hundreds of children moving around a parking lot filled with soon to be moving buses. Where is AJ? Christine? Diama? Fuck, I'd even settle for Bernard, just SOMEONE. Then, the rabbit bus starts backing up. A child screams. I start to run over, but now the goat is backing up, then the skunk bus, then the turtle, then the zebra bus, and the unicorn. I don't know which direction to run in. All the children are screaming. Stop the fucken buses can't you see the children are my curtains being pushed back by the fan. The beeping buses, then, must be my alarm clock. I pull it out of the wall. No, not my alarm clock. What, then?
"What the fuck?" Sole Remaining Gay Roommate Dale asks.
"Is that the fire alarm?"
"What do you think?"
I can never resist answering a question with a question. "Is the house on fire?"
"Do you smell smoke?" Dale and I may be more similar than I'm comfortable admitting.
A brief check of our bedrooms and our bathroom reveals firelessnes. Ditto the kitchen, the living room, and the two bathrooms. "Do you mind checking Bikey's room, while I investigate the basement?" And before he can protest, I bound down the stairs, where there is not so much as a spark.
From upstairs, I hear "Oh. My. God." So the fire is in Bikely's room.
I race back up the stairs. "Where is the fire extinguisher? Have you called 911?"
Dale is standing on the threshold of her room. "Have you ever seen such a sty?"
"So, it's not on fire?"
"Would I be just standing here if it was?"
"Do you think the fire is in the other apartment?" A couple of weeks ago, Dale left some pork roasting in the oven while he went canoeing in the Amazon or something, and the smoke detectors went off. Bikey told me we had to be careful because our smoke alarms were connected to the ones downstairs, and we wouldn't want to wake up our downstairs neighbors late at night. "Right," I said, "Let them burn."
"Are our smoke detectors connected to theirs?" Dale asks.
"How long have you lived here?"
We walk down to their front door. "Should I knock?"
I roll my eyes at him. "Do you think they're home?"
He pounds on the door. "Nope." He says. "Nobody's home."
"Ha!" I say. "That was a statement, I win."
"Dude, our house is no fire, and you're playing grammar games?"
I blush. "Weren't you?"
"Do I need to answer that?"
I cup my hands around my eyes and look in the window. "Do you see any smoke in there?"
I didn't. But there was a fire somewhere in the house, and it probably wasn't getting any smaller. "Isn't there a door in the basement that goes into their apartment?"
Dale cocked his head. "Do you think it's unlocked?"
It wasn't. We took turns trying to batter it down with Law & Order style shoulder lunges. When that failed, I attempted a few kung fu style kicks, with much the same results. Though, I did almost fall down the stairs a couple of times. "Wasn't one of their windows open?"
"Are you giving up on the door?"
I went outside, and cut the bottom of the screen with my key. I then pried the screen off.
"Isn't this breaking and entering?"
I rolled my eyes again. "And trying to break their door wasn't?"
I lifted myself up, and was halfway into the window when Dale asked "What if the neighbors see us?"
I froze. "Do you hear anything?"
"Their alarms aren't going off. Just ours. The fire is in our apartment."
"Ha!" Damn. "Do you think I should call the fire department?"
"Do you have a better idea?" I asked.
"Is that a rhetorical question?"
We took a break from our game so he could call the fire department, and I could replace the screen, hoping they wouldn't notice the gaping hole at the bottom. I joined him on the porch when I was finished. "Is this not the worst way to start a day ever?"
"Could be worse." I said, conceding our contest to make a point. "At least you don't own that car." I said, pointing to a car with a busted window, and a pile of broken glass under it.
"Ha!" He said "Wasn't that a statem--wait, I do own that car."
After he ascertained that nothing but his radio's faceplate, and a few CDs had been stolen, he called the police to make a report. "Didn't you just call the fire department?" The woman on the other end of the phone asked. When he conceded yes, she asked for his registration number.
"It's in the house." He said.
"The one on fire?" She asked.
When she was done laughing at him, he hung up and lit a cigarette.
"Do you really think you should be smoking when the fire department gets here?"
He put out the cigarette on the railing, and shot me an evil look. "Do I care?"
Whoever started the stereotype that firemen were hot, certainly didn't live in any neighborhood I've lived in. Don't get me wrong, I'd much rather have a troop of non-attractive, competent firemen than Zoolanders with large hoses. These firemen were Rescue Me firemen, which makes sense, the show takes place in Boston, I live in Boston. Still, having Dennis Leary rush into our house, then come back out and say "Your smoke detector has low batteries, everything is fine." is a very anticlimactic result to a morning fire. And, what the fuck, what kind of smoke detector is designed to go off loudly and set off the other alarms in the house when it's low on batteries? Wouldn't a simple occasional beep be sufficient? Maybe the lights could go out or something?
With tragedy averted, Dale duct taped his broken car window and drove to work. I got dressed and headed to the coffeehouse to hang out with Celeste. Poor Celeste was still stuck in New York, where she had apparently been punched in the face while waiting for the Chinatown bus, because...well because the Chinatown bus sucks, never shows up when it's scheduled, and, according to yesterday's newspaper, has a tendency to go up in flames every other month or so. Suddenly, fifteen bucks to get from Boston to NYC isn't looking so hot good. I'd rather spend the extra ten bucks to go Greyhound, and live through the experience unscathed.
Because Celeste was not there, I volunteered to work her shift, even though I haven't so much as looked at a cup of coffee in two months. Apart from a few of the regulars asking me where I'd been, the shift was largely uneventful, until the last hour.
I was pouring out the coffee of the day (Mango Duck Chutney) when I noticed someone at the counter.
"of-course ?want this? ?want that?"
"that ?busy day?"
"not yes-not no ?coffee?"
And I suddenly realized I was signing to a stranger. A stranger had walked up to my counter and, without any introduction, begun speaking with me in pidgin sign language.
"no coffee thanks"
"?how you know I sign?" I asked.
"you fingerspell and" (mimes pouring) "coffee same time"
Right, I do have a tendency to fingerspell when I'm daydreaming. I wasn't aware you could notice that across a crowded room, though.
"William!" Did someone step on a bird with strep throat? No, it's just some obnoxious woman yelling at.... Who is she yelling at? "WILL-YUM" She's coming right at me. Ohhhhh.
"?name w-i-l-l-i-a-m?" I asked.
His eyes conveyed the question "Are you psychic?" while his fingers remained motionless.
"someone yell at you"
William turned around. "?what?" Then he signed something I couldn't see.
"Don't sign to me." She said. "I don't have a clue what you're saying."
"I thought we were supposed to sign to each other as much as possible so we could get fluent faster." His voice is...flawless. Deep, rich, and...not at all the voice of someone who can't hear their own voice.
"I don't have time for this." She says. "Do you have my muffin?"
"Yes." He says, holding up the bag.
"Is it hot?"
"No." I say.
She bristles that I have addressed her. She clearly wasn't asking for my input. "Well, heat it up then."
"I can't." I say. "No microwave or oven."
"Why not?" She asks.
William turns around and starts watching my lips. He definitely can't hear. I'm guessing, based on their conversation and his incredibly precise voice, that he only recently lost his hearing. And, that this cunt is his mother. "We're a coffeehouse, not a restaurant, per se. We just sell muffins, biscotti, and cookies."
"So buy a microwave to heat up muffins for people."
Twat. "We don't have room for a microwave. Plus, in the year I've worked here" this is a complete lie, I worked there for all of three or four months "you're the first person who ever asked to have their muffin heated."
"Well now I don't want it. So you just lost a customer. Maybe you should rethink your position on microwaves. Let's go William."
Yes, bitch. The $1.50 we just lost because you don't want a muffin will make me rush over to Best Buy RIGHT NOW to buy a microwave. Clearly, you win.
William looks like he just sat in water. "sorry" he says to me "mom" Then he turns away, pauses, turns back and says "see-ya"
"later" I reply.
"William!" Cunty McFucker shouts. "Let's go."
And because I have lost my tact when it comes to this woman, I look straight at her and say "He can't hear you, lady, he's deaf."
William's eyes telescope large.
"sorry" I sign.
"same" And his laugh sends me in orbit around the coffeehouse. I may never touch the ground again.