Apparently, the measles I had when I was a little kid were the German measles. The ones I got my sophomore year at college were the more common, eponymous strain.
Once again, people who lived near me wanted me to move out and go home - essentially to not infect them. But, like I said in the original post about all this - if I had, I’d have lost a chunk of my financial aid - and I needed my financial aid to stay in school. So my Resident Assistant held a meeting regarding me, wherein he promised on my behalf that I would stay away from everyone. I’d even wait and take my showers at three in the morning, when no one else was in the public bathroom. Except that guy who was always coming home from the bars at three in the morning….
My roommate Michael more or less moved out, and even after I’d gotten better, he didn’t move back in.
When I got a new roommate, it was Keifer Sims. And while I’m sure Keifer and I probably had a few run-ins, I don’t remember them. Seeing as how this is an article about how shitty of a roommate I am, I’m sure Keifer could tell you some whoppers about Will Kenyon. I’ll leave those to him, though.
Keifer was my last roommate before I became a Resident Assistant myself, and he was the only roommate I had for several years, other than my new girlfriend (and wife to be) Aida, my parents, and a brief run with my friends Jay Hall and David Carter - two months of drug- and alcohol-fueled euphoria where everything was so cheap and rose-colored and fleeting that we couldn’t HELP but get along.
Oh yeah. Somewhere in there, too, was my two weeks with Joey.
Then I moved to New York and started living in the 26th Street NYU dorm with Bong.
Bong was a great guy. He was native Korean, and his English sucked balls, and he wore his pants just below his neckline. But he was funny and generous and patient, and we got along as well as two guys from different ends of the Earth possibly could. He couldn’t pronounce my name - Bill - correctly, so he introduced me to his friends as Beer, and eventually we got to be known as Beer and Bong. I was fine with this, of course. Bong didn’t get it.
The trouble with Bong was that he was married. And his wife still lived in Korea. And every morning at about five a.m. he’d call her, and I would wake up to a whispered chattering in Korean. We shared a studio apartment, and I gotta tell you: at five a.m. Korean is an ugly, ugly language to listen to.
After Bong moved into an apartment with his friends, Sophana moved in with me. Sophana was Cambodian, and he had been an infant in the Cambodian Killing Fields. He was a fascinating person, and we got along famously - he even got me a job working as an English tutor for the U.N. But, then I became an R.A. again, and I had no roommate for the next year.
And then came Scott and D. After getting my degree from NYU, I sort of fell into a job working for a midtown-Manhattan graphic design firm, but I flailed around for a couple of months looking for an affordable apartment, until D invited me and Scott to move in with him in his second floor walk-up in Astoria, Queens. For nine months, the three of us got along pretty well. We watched a lot of movies, played a lot of AD&D and Magic, and went to work and school.
I’m not gonna speculate on what was going on with D back then, and I think he’s gotten past it now, whatever it was, but slowly he withdrew from us. He’d sleep a lot, he’d bitch about all sorts of things kind of randomly, and he started just vegging in his room. And then I pulled a fast one on him and pretty much ended our relationship.
You see, when Scott and I first moved in, there was another guy in the process of moving out, and D claimed that he went into that guy’s room and stole a bunch of his stuff, stating that he didn’t think the guy would ever notice. Whether this was true or not, I can’t say (D might have been trying to impress us with his roguesmanship). Regardless, as the time drew nearer for me to decide whether I was gonna move out or not, I was starting to get a little paranoid.
I was getting married, and D and I had discussed the possibility of me taking over his lease. But then D started saying he didn’t think he could find another place in time and that he’d have to crash with me and Aida until he could. To a newlywed couple looking to start a life together in the Big City, having a roommate, any roommate, didn’t sound so appealing. Add to that D’s increasingly anti-social behavior and the fact that he wasn’t making ANY effort to find a place, and I started thinking I just needed to move out. But then I started thinking about the fact that D was home A LOT, while I wasn’t, and about how much valuable stuff I had.
I don’t know if it was the best decision, or the right one, but I made arrangements to move out - found an apartment in Brooklyn, rented a truck , etc. - and then I did so, without telling D that I was doing it. Needless to say, he was pissed. He probably still is. I’ll rail against the concept of pre-emptive strikes to my dying breath, but I am nonetheless guilty of one.
Since then, my only roommate’s been Aida and my kids. And while I may still be a shitty roommate, I can at least bask in the knowledge that they’re more or less stuck with me, as am I with them.
I woke up to the loudest, most obnoxious blanket of white noise I’d ever heard. Imagine if you were standing in front of a thousand TV sets, all blasting nothing but static. That was what it was like. It didn’t help that I was groggy from being asleep, and a little hung over….
“What the fuck?” I asked my pillow. Then I rolled out of my comfy bed and threw on some sweatpants. I stumbled into the hallway, the noise raging in my ears from all around me.
Down the hall I saw that the TV was indeed on, and its screen was filled with those dancing black and white dots that us old-timers remember as indicators that the TV wasn’t tuned into a channel it could receive. Static. And loud. I walked down the hall to the TV and switched it off. That’s when I could hear that the stereo was on as well - and also tuned in to no channel in particular, just static. I crossed the living room and switched it off. That’s when I could hear a roar coming from the kitchen. I went in that direction and saw that the blender and the can opener were both on the counter, empty but running full tilt. I turned them off, and then I could hear the garbage disposal in the sink churning noisily. I hit the wall switch for it.
Then I could hear every clock radio in the apartment (except mine) blasting static. One was in my roommate Joey’s room - he wasn’t there so I switched it off. Likewise my roommate Dave’s room. After that, I could hear the washer and dryer running. I went to the little room where they were and opened both of them. They were empty, but running nonetheless. I turned them off.
That’s when I could hear all the faucets in the apartment running. The sinks and showers of both bathrooms were open and blasting water on absolutely no one. I turned them off.
And then, at last, everything was silent.
I stood in the middle of the living room for a while, looking around. As far as I could tell, I was alone in the apartment - but Joey and/or Dave couldn’t be far, because SOMEONE had to have turned every appliance in the apartment on while I was asleep. And considering the level of noise all those appliances made, I couldn’t have been asleep too long after they were all turned on.
I called their names and no one answered. I looked out the front door and saw that Dave’s car was gone. That left Joey.
And of course it was Joey. Only Joey would do something like that. Joey had a serious drinking problem. He had a lot of problems.
Fuck it. Joey was batshit crazy, and standing there in the apartment we shared, wondering what would possess someone to turn on every appliance on hand and then just leave… I decided it was time for me to move out. Right then.
I didn’t have a lot of worldly possessions back then, and a lot of my stuff was still at my girlfriend’s apartment. We’d been living together for almost a year - in sin - but we’d recently had a big fight, and I’d moved out on her and in with Joey and Dave. They needed a subsidy for the rent, and I’d needed a place to crash. But after two weeks of partying and late nights, vomit-filled toilets and mirrors covered in coke, I was growing weary. And this little morning wake up call was more than a morning wake up. It was time to go. I threw all my clothes into my duffle, grabbed all my CDs and my little portable stereo, and threw them all into my car. I went back for a second load and a third, and in minutes my car was packed and I was ready to leave.
I opened the front car door, and suddenly a disembodied voice spoke to me: “You still owe me $180 for rent, even if you leave.”
I looked around and saw no one. So I started to get into the car.
“I’m probably not coming back to work, so you’ll need to bring it by here.”
This time I looked up. And there was Joey, sitting on the roof of the apartment with a beer between his knees. I couldn’t see HOW he got up there, but somehow he had. He’d turned on all the appliances in the apartment, then climbed up onto the roof and waited for me to come out. He’d watched me load up the car, and then he’d finally spoken to me.
“You’ll get your money,” I said. Then I got into my car and left.
I took Joey his money later that day, but he wasn’t there, so I gave the cash to Dave.
“Sorry, dude,” Dave said. “I heard what happened. I think I’m outta here, too.”
I’ve never seen Joey again.
(Static photo credit: seaskylab)