Epic Fail: Picking the Wrong Housemate
2012-08-10 04:25 PMEpic Fails
Your first year at university is about to finish. It’s almost time to leave the breezeblock walls, communal showers, athlete’s foot, romantic misadventures and insipid décor of student halls behind. Greener pastures await. You’re moving into a student house with your friends. It looks a bit rough around the edges, but it’s going to be “EPIC”. Surely nothing can go wrong?
The time has arrived. It’s moving day. You’re really excited about the underwhelming house parties, the exorbitant utility bills, the laissez-faire attitude of your housemates towards the washing up, and the olive green mould that will gradually take over your bathroom ceiling. But most of all you’re looking forward to the unbridled freedom of having your own place.
Unfortunately, like Gulliver urinating on the burning buildings of Lilliput, something is putting a dampener on your carnival spirit. One of your housemates, you suspect, could turn out to be an absolute nightmare. I know your pain. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Most students worry about their housemates being clean freaks, lazy slobs or the kind of people who meticulously label their food with notes that say “Property of Bernard Hopkins. Don’t touch. I’m watching you. How do you know I haven’t laced this bag of rice with cyanide?” Unfortunately, we didn’t have the fortune of worrying about those things in our student house. Our main concern was that one of our housemates was a genuine nutter.
We’d already had our doubts before we decided to move in with him. He was a good friend of ours, but a few incidents were beginning to prey on our minds as we handed over the holding deposit to our avaricious landlord.
In fact, the seeds of uncertainty began to germinate the first time he mentioned The Rook.
A little bit of context…
Before I explain, it’s probably useful if I give you a quick insight into the character of our ‘problematic’ housemate. First things first, he was an all-round lovely chap; he just did and said some weird things from time-to-time. For instance, he once intentionally downed a glass of cider which somebody had dropped their cigarette ash into.
Alarmingly, he also got a tattoo on the back of his neck which was dedicated to a Russian girl on his course; a girl he was obsessed with, but with whom he’d never had any kind of romantic dalliance.
He’d also never eaten anything ‘normal’ in his life. Raised solely on a diet of fish fingers and chips, he was notably perplexed one evening when salmon fillets were served in the cafeteria of our student halls.
“What the hell is that?” he said.
“It’s a fish.”
“Like fish fingers?”
“Yeah, I suppose so.”
He opted for the overcooked salmon and he absolutely loved it.
“That is honestly one of the best meals I have EVER eaten.”
Extravagant praise for the dinnerladies who had lovingly obliterated the salmon in a hot oven for at least two hours before serving it.
It’s important to note that our unbalanced housemate was also addicted to poker. Texas Hold’em, online poker, strip poker; you name it, he loved it. This obsession acted as the foundation for his elaborate plans for The Rook.
One evening, once we’d all agreed to live together, he casually told the rest of us (over a cocktail of scrumpy and cigarette butts no doubt) that he planned to turn our newly-refurbished student flat into a casino come pub, come speakeasy, come burlesque house named The Rook.
A place where we could “play poker, recover from the harsh realities of university life, kick back with a whisky, and invite attractive young ladies to come round and serve us snacks.” He decided that he would charge other people an entrance fee, but because we lived there we would be entitled to “free lifetime membership”. The word ‘delusional’ doesn’t quite cover it.
Needless to say this grand idea never came to fruition. Instead, he embarked on a series of misguided adventures that would eventually culminate in him having to leave the flat.
The Nose Bleed
One day, not too long after we’d moved in, I was reading in my room. I heard a knock at my bedroom door, which I thought might be a welcome break from Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year (a sinfully boring book). I was very much mistaken.
When I opened the door, my insane housemate strode into my room with a look of pride and excitement on his face. Bizarrely, he also had a fair amount of blood smeared around his nose and mouth. I really hoped it was his and not the remnants of our next door neighbour’s cat.
“Don’t you just love it when you get a nose bleed?” he said, prancing around my room, wiping blood across his face, pulling ‘rock star’ shapes and looking at himself in the mirror. Ladies and gentleman of the jury, Exhibit A.
The Housewarming Party
Like all students moving into their first student flat, we celebrated with a fairly raucous housewarming party. Everybody we knew came to the party, but our housemate didn’t. He’d been invited. He said he was coming, but he was a no-show.
At around midnight, as the party was in full swing, he walked into the house with his equally strange girlfriend. Avoiding eye contact with anyone, and in total silence, he shepherded her through the melee of people into his bedroom and slammed the door. A few seconds later, he resurfaced, skulked into the kitchen, retrieved a bottle of ketchup from the fridge, returned to his room and slammed the door again.
Despite the fact that the rest of us had lined our landlord’s palm with silver, our unhinged friend inexplicably managed to get away with not paying his share of the damage deposit for two whole months. Unfortunately, he didn’t put the money into a savings account or a piggy bank. Instead, he blew the money in a single day by buying an iPod and three pairs of mind-blowingly expensive jeans.
When the landlord realised that the full deposit hadn’t be paid, he called our housemate and asked for it. Terrified at asking his parents for more money to replace the amount they’d already given him for the deposit, he decided to cut his losses and move out.
Allowing our estranged housemate to pick a replacement was certainly an error. We ended up with a strangely enigmatic chap whom we nicknamed ‘Cassidy’. He spent the vast majority of his time elsewhere, but when he did grace us with his presence, he would invariably commit some kind of social faux pas; perhaps insulting one of our female friends, making a crass joke or laughing at something gravely serious.
He was so enigmatic, in fact, that when it was time to move out at the end of the year, he was on holiday in Madrid. We didn’t know where he was and he didn’t know that we were supposed to be moving out. Consequently, we had to move all of his junk out of his messy bedroom, including his poster of Robbie Williams and his dental retainer. Not cool.
Actually though, Cassidy wasn’t that bad. At least he paid his deposit and didn’t enjoy a nosebleed in my bedroom.
Image courtesy of Paul Stein, ‘American Psycho’