Why is it so hard to find a good roommate? Brokespeare wrote, “Miserly living acquaints a man with strange apartment-fellows.” Yes, he’s a sexist – but in this case he’s right. Whether your roommate is an apathetic frog (whose Dad still has to PayPal you the last month’s rent), an overly-ripped body builder who yells into your face that you “can’t talk to him like that” (causing you bolt in the night with your valuables), or your run-of-the-mill hard-partying slob, we all have Roommate Horror Stories. And there’s something comforting in sharing them.
September means new apartment keys are being issued all over the city, so we wanted to collect tales of our least favorite co-habitants. Team Brokelyn weighs in with theirs below, but tell us your best worst-roommate story in the comments, and, most helpfully, now did you escape it? Kvetch here and complete the circle of co-misery (we love company!).
Prepare for The Tale of…
The ‘Close Friend’
“My roommate and I decided to get our own place, instead of continuing to share a room in a spot a few stations into the hipper part of town. With our own beds, I had assumed we would have a bit more space to ourselves. We were playing in a duo and definitely didn’t have a ton of non-working time apart. I didn’t think much of the normal-ish displays of together-ness: my turns of phrase and opinions being co-opted, my friends becoming her friends, compliments, cuddle time … well, actually, I began to mind the cuddle time. She has a habit of asking for a snuggle when I was innocently making coffee or whathaveyou; it began to feel like I was a cold-hearted guy in a relationship (without the sex). Add a drunken make-out session, and things were officially Weird. It got weirder when I started waking up to her spooning me in my bed. Solution: her breakdown and my calculated retreat. She found a new place soon thereafter. Hindsight: maybe we should have only spent every OTHER waking moment together.
No, I haven’t seen Single White Female. It sounds scary”
The Walking Hygiene Experiment
“I’d been living in the same apartment for about 3 years when I wound up finding a new roommate through Craigslist. This guy worked in film production, kept really strange hours and had a propensity for scouring the bars during the “skank hours” and bringing home whomever he could get. He smoked in his room, never cleaning anything and kept condiments on his nightstand (eww). The room had this awful smell like used handkerchiefs and fourth-hand jeans. One email I sent him had the subject line: “The apartment smells”. The body said, “like a petri dish. Seriously.”
I decided to solve the problem by becoming more clean myself to set a good example. I made a spreadsheet of all the things that needed to be done to keep the apartment up, switching up the duties between us. There was even a place to check whether it had been done, like those inspection sheets in public restrooms. That worked for a little while, but he began slacking so I had to send him regular emails to nag him. Within a few months, he told me he needed to move out to help a friend who needed a roommate. Problem solved!”
The Way-Too-Touchy One
“After I graduated, I moved into a house not far from campus that was occupied by a middle-aged woman. The day after I moved in, I accidentally let the screen door slam behind me as I left. As I was running down the stairs, I heard her yell: “Don’t slam the fucking door!” I yelled back that I was sorry and wouldn’t let it happen again. I didn’t think much of the incident until I came home that evening and found a hand-written note on the kitchen table that explained how “disappointed she was at having chosen me as a roommate” and that she’d “gone through a lot of shit recently” and couldn’t be bothered with people as inconsiderate as me. She moved out a week later.”
The ‘Coca-Cola’ Head
I had a roommate that did copious amounts of coke all the time. She would be gone all night (for a couple days even), come back during the day, and immediately start stripping while she told you how much coke she just did and who she just slept with. It didn’t matter who was in the room with you — your mom, your boyfriend — she would strip down to her skivvies and talk until your ears bled. To top it off, she wrote bad rent checks. We found out from the management company she was two months behind, which turned me into a crazy person. I moved out. And then, I found out she swiped my True Romance DVD. That really hammered the final nail into my hate coffin.
I split a house in college with four dudes and got a lesson in why you should never live with someone who is an unmotivated lump: he would go to class for a few hours every day and then seemed incapable of doing anything else for the rest of his day besides try to figure out Ryan Adams songs on guitar, add to the ridiculous pile of dishes in the sink, watch “24” endlessly and come up with excuses why he hadn’t written a check for the bills yet. Tensions reached a breaking point when my roommate accused the lump of pinching his stash, eating his food and just general parasitic douchebaggery. My solution was to start locking the door to my room when I left for the day and keeping stock of my other supplies. Then I moved out as soon as I could a few months later. And because I had cleaned up so much his trash, I made sure to leave him with as much trash as I could find.
The Hangin’ Tough Escape Artist
“My worst roommate was a con artist. She only paid her rent on time and fully two times in the year we lived together. It wasn’t until four months after we had moved in that we learned that she was writing bad checks. She cried and swore up and down that the bank had made a mistake, or that it was the super who lost her money order, which she could never confirm that she had actually bought. We wondered how she could have a full-time 9-5 job, but couldn’t pay her $675 rent on time. Turns out, she was too busy chasing the aging NKOTB popstar Donnie Wahlberg around the country to fix her finances. She was obsessed and had creepy pictures of the two of them together. We gave her a chance to straighten everything out and pay us back rent, which she did. But three months later, we found out she had pulled the same tricks again. At that point, we forced her to move out which she did very bitchily, as if it was our fault she had spent her income on being a NKOTB groupie.
She never paid the several months of rent she owed. Instead she dropped off the face of the earth and blocked us on Facebook. I learned my lesson: the following year, I was the sole lessee. It was easier to be in charge and know if the rent was actually being paid on time and not several months down the line.”
So tell us: what have you been through?