Monday, October 28, 2013

How to Use the Bathroom in the Dark (and Other Life Lessons)

You just never know about people. They seem like perfectly sane, rational human beings.  Sometimes you think you have things in common with them. But you never really know a person until you live with them, because that's when the crazy starts. If you're lucky, this crazy is a good crazy, one that meshes with your particular brand of crazy and turns you into a team. These kindred crazy people become friends you may not talk to every day, but know would be there if you ever needed someone to listen to you in twenty some odd years.

While good crazy people are preferable when it's a living arrangement and you're depending on someone to write checks that don't bounce, the bad crazy people are the ones who turn into great stories. There are the ones who bring home one night stands. Which is all grand, until you find out they are wanted for manslaughter and the cops arrive at your door. There are the ones who can't seem to remember to close the door when leaving the house, and you thank your lucky stars no one walked through the open door and the cat didn't walk out. And then there are the special ones. The ones who bounce checks accidentally on purpose because rather than save their money for rent, they decided to go on online shopping sprees in the middle of the night.

There's the time I found out that she'd been using my tampons, because when I went to get one the box was empty. After confronting her about this she told me she was doing me a favor since they smelled funny anyway. When I asked her to clarify what she meant about that, the entire story came tumbling out about how she sniffed them before using them. Rather like a Cuban sniffing a fine cigar. In addition to sniffing her tampons, she also sniffed the stove burners, the cat, doorknobs, and the teakettle; I know this because she complained about all of these things in the course of her stay. There's also the time when I was on vacation, and she texted me to let me know the bathroom light had burnt out. When I told her to call maintenance or change it herself, she asked me in all seriousness how I expected her to use the bathroom in the dark. I told her to pretend she was Stevie Wonder. But I generally save stories like these for those internet discussions about roommates from hell. 

For a long time I simply did not understand her. I couldn't figure out how a three year old child had gotten stuck in the body of a twenty five year old adult who dressed like a sixty year old woman. But then she gave me the key to her problem. And that key was Bette Davis. Where did Bette Davis come into play, you ask? One day she brought home her favorite movie called Now, Voyager starring, of course, Bette Davis. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew of Bette Davis was that she was a sometimes annoying actress who refused to wear bras. I don't understand that myself, but I try not to judge. My roommate couldn't fathom how I had never seen this film. I now can't fathom why they ever made this film.

If you haven't had the glorious experience of watching Now, Voyager, let me give you a brief synopsis. Bette Davis is the poor, put upon daughter of an extremely rich woman who won't even let her have a boyfriend. Poor Bette. A family friend who also happens to be a doctor with a lovely sanitarium comes to visit and takes her with him to the sanitarium. Bette emerges a new person with a load of new hats and stylish clothes to boot. She then books herself a cruise, to celebrate this newly found independence. While on the cruise, she meets a man. A handsome European man who is extremely tall and has a wife. She spends five days with him marooned in South America. Romance blossoms. She sees a family photograph where one daughter in particular captures her interest. That's Trina. Trina is not the favorite. Trina is misunderstood. Bette sees in Trina herself, and recommends her doctor, her sanitarium and then returns home. Once home she has conflicts with her controlling mother who is evil yet has the good manners to die and leave Bette her fortune and her home. Bette dates an unattractive man, and then says goodbye to the unattractive man because the image of the attractive and married man she met on the cruise is so strong in her head. She goes back to the sanitarium to find inner peace, and Trina. She completely ingratiates herself into the life of misunderstood Trina and eventually takes her away from the sanitarium to live with her. I have no idea how this managed to happen and can only conclude that Child Protective Services did not exist yet. The married man who is also the father of Trina comes to Bette's house and sees how lovely Trina looks and how happy everyone is and thanks her, even though he must stay married to his wife and can never be with Bette except when he can fit in both a one night stand and a visit to Trina.

Two things. First, I do hope Trina never found out, because that could be even more damaging than learning that your mother hated you. Second, I began to understand my roommate. She saw herself in the Bette Davis role in life, and imagined everyone to be against her, from her freshman year roommates who refused to drop everything to take care of her when she was sick, to the bus driver who refused to accept her paper farecard since buses don't run on paper farecards. This is why she had the mental capacity of a three year old. Anyone who did not give her her way would run afoul of her good graces and she would throw a fit. Because she had never had anything bad happen in her life, she had to invent bad things so she too could be put upon like the Bette Davis character.

One thing I have learned in the last several years is that when someone wants to be put upon, it is really easy to feel put upon. It's kind of like looking at the world and being determined to find fault with it. You'll always find a dead fly in the vinegar. But it's okay, because all these crazy people worked together to teach you one of life's greatest lessons. Never assume. Never assume they'll remember to close, much less lock doors. Never assume that they're adults and not parasites searching for a new parent to provide for them. And never assume that they'll have the basic skills needed to use the bathroom in the dark. 

When she moved out, she hired a moving company for the big stuff, which was her mattress, her box spring, her suitcase, and a gigantic Target grocery bag filled with random crap. The look on the little man's face was priceless. I doubt they've ever been asked to move gigantic Target grocery bags filled with the loot of a shopaholic. But then, who knows. There are a lot of crazy people out there. About a month later I saw on Facebook she was complaining about being locked out of her house. She'd lost her keys and couldn't get her roommates to open the door. And I thanked my lucky stars that I never had to deal with her again. 

1 comment:

Kathy said...

I cannot stop giggling. How absolutely beautiful.