I’ve had many mad, bad, dangerous housemates and roommates over the years. Depending on the rental market, I’ve lived with family or in some kind of shared arrangement with people I hardly knew, without much concern or preference either way. Given that work and other life changes have caused (forced?) me to live in 13 different countries in the last decade, worrying about who’s belching in the attic or in the bedroom next-door or in the bed on the other side of the partition would have been unwise and unhealthy. But sometimes—sometimes I realize I’m living with a maniac.
Maybe she’s loudly bipolar. Maybe he’s 3D-printing a gun, terrified Mossad is following him. Maybe she’s carrying on a deep love affair with heroin and likes to pass out in your bed. Maybe she comes home violently drunk, crying and breaking your dishware (never ask me why my very small collection of plates and bowls don’t match). Maybe her ex-boyfriend is a vicious nutcase who keeps threatening to burn the house down. Maybe he’s a swinger and hosts loud fetish parties. Maybe he’s a stressed-out evangelical, thinks you’re a devil worshipper, and slips into your room when you’re not there, looking for evidence of black magic. I’ve experienced all of these maybes. Each one was lovely and ended as well as you might imagine.
People, the Lizard King says, are strange. That’s unquestionably true. But I’m so low key (headphones, up before dawn, early to bed, focused on my work, meditating every day, cooking small meals, careful about cleanliness) that I might be the ideal housemate for weirdos. With me around, they always have enough space to engage in moaning S&M without worrying I’m going to kick open the door with a fire extinguisher. By all means, leave your sex toys in a shoe box out on the kitchen table. I don’t eat there anyway. Feel free to get naked and OD on my toilet. I’ll drive you to the ER just like last time. Pilfer my food, even when I put it in my sacred fridge zone. Et cetera.
So I suppose my previous housemate’s self-righteous veganism was small potatoes. The fact that he dressed like an 18th century Japanese shopkeeper and constantly commented on my (inexpensive, minimal) wardrobe or non-vegan food choices was really nothing. That he brought his secret Tinder dates over when his girlfriend had to work at night and had loud banging sex on the other side of the wall was not my business. Him regularly contaminating the atmosphere with cheap cologne was negligible. Things could always have been worse—like the unrelenting termite infestation where I’m living now. But I digress.
I tell myself at least he wasn’t making bombs. And I honestly do want everyone to get laid, smell the way they want, and be well fed. Let there be golden copulations as far as the eye can see. Stir fry your flaccid tofu with your vegan cheese substance. Watch anime late into the night and have a nice relaxing wank. It’s a free country and that has nothing to do with me.
I don’t even care if you constantly make snide comments and strut around the place acting superior. You can be superior. Just let me get my sleep, brother. Just find someone to deal with the termites. Just let me follow my routine and stay out of my way. I’m a freelancer. I work at home, online, with words and I don’t get days off. I can only maintain that life if I practice rigid self-discipline and minimalism. Let me be minimal. Because if I don’t have time and space to write, I disappear. The carriage turns back into a pumpkin. The glass slipper cuts my foot.
I’m simple. I like to keep everything that way because it means productivity and me making a living. Complicated hasn’t treated me well in the past. People may be strange when you’re a stranger. But this time, please OD within walking distance of Urgent Care. And when you’re dousing yourself with Axe Wild Spice, please ventilate. It’s okay. I understand. We’re fumigating the house on Tuesday.