Remember when you were, like, two weeks away from moving into your dorm freshman year, and your biggest worry is “will my roommate be a tool?" I remember those days. Before Facebook, you had no idea if housing paired you with the coolest person ever or a person from whom you would somehow contract scabies. It was pretty scary shit. I was lucky. My freshman year roommate was a saint, and I lived with my best friends during the next three years. We had our moments, but all were easily snuffed out with a quick talk and a couple beers at Bentley’s.
Post-college living is no different. Moving in with someone at any age can be a huge pain in the ass. Everyone has their own living habits, their own shady, behind-closed-doors behavior. It’s a matter of balancing those habits with a little normalcy, understanding and respect. Some people get lucky, and some people get Hedy from "Single White Female." It really can be a terrifying crap shoot of either ending up with a new best friend or possibly requiring a restraining order to get pairs of your underwear back.
When I moved into my UES apartment in 2011, I was extremely lucky. I moved in with my two good friends who happened to be brother and sister. They were living in a gorgeous three-bedroom duplex and needed a third when their other brother moved out. I was so stoked that they were giving me the opportunity to break out of my mom’s house, I did everything I could to be a good roommate. My bartending schedule meant I wasn’t home at night, so my friends and I had space away from each other. It was a great situation. We all pulled our weight, kept the apartment clean and had a great time together.
When Craig announced that he would be moving in with his girlfriend in June, I got stressed. I didn’t know if it would be easy to replace Craig, but I knew Michelle and I loved our apartment and didn't want to move. But after posting a note on Facebook, I got a couple hits, and we seemed to find someone who sounded great.
Clearly, I had been spoiled with Craig. Ten long months later, I have learned some valuable lessons about roommates. Here are five sure signs you’re a shitty roommate, especially if you're a guy living with chicks.
5. You're taking my food.
Are you taking food from the fridge you didn’t buy? Don’t remember going to Gristedes and picking up that box of Uncrustables that you’re destroying? THEN DON’T TAKE IT. Since I work in a restaurant, and they feed me, I rarely have “food food” in my apartment. Occasionally, I’ll splurge and order some stuff if I have a light schedule that week, but for the most part all I usually have at home to cook with is pasta, garlic and parmesan cheese. It's a good staple if I don’t ever eat at work and want a quick bite, or I come home drunk and the place down the street is closed. It's also something simple I can cook without setting myself/the apartment on fire. I’m not Iron Chef over here. So when one of the three things I always have in the fridge go missing, it’s obvious. Especially if it’s not replaced after a week or two. I’m fine with roommates borrowing things if I have a lot and I’m not going to finish it or if they replace it in a timely matter. Ask, and ye shall receive. But using the excuse, “in my last apartment we just shared everything” isn’t going to fly when you just take shit without asking and don’t replace it. When you are simply taking my food and bringing nothing to the table but one package of ramen and saved soy sauces from Chinese food delivery, that’s not “sharing.” That’s mooching. Don’t take my shit, especially without asking. We don’t live in communist China, and my shit ain’t yours.
4. You're taking my booze.
Who really wants to be “that guy," the moocher who thinks he's such a great drunk that people buy the booze specifically for him? We had a situation with our roommate in which he felt the need to sample all of my third roommate’s alcoholic purchases. Of course, by sample, I mean kill. She once offered him a glass of Macallan 12-year she had bought to keep in the apartment because one of her friends liked to drink it. The next day, he apparently took her offer of one glass as, “kill the bottle, buddy!" I’m not even kidding, the WHOLE bottle. GONE. Never mentioned it to Michelle. She just happened to realize 24/25ths of the bottle were gone, and through the power of deduction came to the realization that it wasn't me who drank it. When it was replaced nearly four weeks later after an e-mail regarding “apartment sharing,” he had friends over, and I came up at 1:00 a.m. to find one of them in my kitchen. This is the discussion that took place: “Is this yours?” he said, holding up the bottle of scotch. “No, it’s our roommate Michelle’s." “Oh, well Chris said we could have some." Funny, it’s not Chris’s to give away. A few weeks later, while Michelle was in the living room, Chris was doling out her bottle of Firefly vodka to his friends, going so far as to her ask her if she’d like some of her own liquor. Michelle finally confronted him about it. Instead of asking him to replace is, she simply asked for the cash – because he would just buy it and drink it again weeks later. We contemplated moving the booze into our rooms, but then realized we aren’t 20 years old or in college. We don’t have an RA and shouldn’t have to hide our liquor in our closets. We stopped buying it completely. I’m looking forward to the day I can put a bottle of liquor in the kitchen again and get more than just the whiff of it before someone else drinks it. Are you taking your roomies alcohol without permission?
3. You’re almost 30, and you think I’m your mother.
I am the most undomesticated woman in the world. I can’t cook, and I'm not super adept at cleaning. But knowing that I live with two other people, it forces me to put shit away, to not leave food in my room, to not encourage roaches to move in and start snacking on the shit I leave around. I’m not perfect, but I’m aware. Every now and then, I go into a massive cleaning fit where I scrub the tub or WetJet the kitchen floor. Our old roommate once asked me how to turn a dishwasher on -- five months into living with us. He was the type who would open the dishwasher, take one fork out and leave the rest for someone else to put away. His idea of cleaning the bathroom was spraying stuff down with Febreeze and wiping it. Hardened Ramen noodles and pieces of burger would weave themselves into our living room rug. Beer bottles and cans and rolls of paper towel built up on the patio we share with our neighbors. We aren’t like, OCD clean freaks, but we also acknowledge if you clean something correctly the first time, you don’t have to do it often. We also acknowledge that if you are almost 30, no one should be telling you to “pick up after yourself." I haven’t been reprimanded like that since I was 16. When a smell is coming from your room from the rotting jar of queso and other food products you left in there for five days, or your shaving remnants back up in the sink with shaving soap scum, or you are constantly leaving food out around the apartment as an open invite to creatures to come chill, that makes you a shitty roommate. Especially after six or so emails implicitly asking you to clean up after yourself. I loved college as much as the next person, but I’m not paying $1,250 a month in NYC to live in a frat house. Running the dishwasher and adequately cleaning shared spaces every now and then isn’t like, a damn work line in a Third World labor camp, dude. If you want to be on an episode of "Hoarders," phenomenal, but don't drag the whole brownstone down with you.
2. You’re randomly using my hygienic products.
God, this one baffles me. The whole concept of roommates using personal items like razors or mouthwash or sponges or washrags? To me, that’s vile, and it happens a lot. Look, I grew up with an older sister. We shared a lot of stuff. But basic stuff like sponges, razors, toothbrushes and mouthwash -- that was the “one for me, one for you” stuff. So when a guy I barely know starts using my Listerine or takes a piece of my old broken used sponge and uses it long after the rest gets thrown out, I’m just like… gross. CVS is three blocks up from our apartment. We have coupons. I really don’t want to have to keep my bottle of Listerine in my bedroom to prevent you from using it every morning. And the fact that you are hiding that piece of sponge should signal to you what you’re doing is weird and gross. Your backwash should not be in my mouthwash. Get your own hygienic stuff because if you’re using mine, it’s totally defeating the purpose. Are you using your roommates’ personal hygienic equipment/old broken shower stuff? Not only does that make you a crappy roommate, it makes you pretty skeevy.
1.You’re using my computer to watch porn
This was the kicker. Any time my roommate or I thought we were being too big of bitches, we reminded ourselves of this little gem. My roommate, bless his soul, was one of the few people left in this world who didn’t have a personal laptop, iPad or iPhone for a really long time. At first, he would order on-demand porn on cable and blame it on his friends when the $90 porn charges would come up on the bill. Eventually, he just stopped making up excuses and wore it when utilities time came. Seriously, it’s 2013. Who pays 12 dollars to watch Jenna Jameson give an offscreen blowjob these days? With the amount he spent on those movies, he could have bought an iPad and a subscription to some high-quality porn. I guess he agreed. He began casually using Michelle’s laptop when she left it out in the living room before clearing the history. One night, I rolled in at around five in the morning after a long overdue visit from a fellow former Terp. When I came down to my room, I noticed two of my lights were on – something I never do when I go out because I am paranoid about fires. When I picked up my laptop, I began typing an address I normally go to, only to find my history had been cleared. Kid had gone into my room, left my lights on, used my computer without my permission and cleared my history. When I confronted him the next morning, he claimed he simply had to look up an address. After going to fix something at Apple, I had them check the flash drives. Those don’t get deleted even if you delete your history. It was clear that I was not the one on my computer at 2:53 a.m. watching “The devil in her likes it in the ass” on Perfect Girls dot net. I felt like I was on CSI. When we went through Michelle’s hard drive, it was also clear she wasn’t the one watching videos on Orgasm.com at times she wasn’t even home. Look, I have no problem knowing that guys watch porn. Totally cool with it, in fact, I’d think it was unhealthy if you didn’t. But my computer – that has my scripts, personal emails, personal pictures (and yes that includes some "personal" ones) on there, is not your property to just take and jerk off on. Total invasion of privacy! If you’re almost 30, and you are sheistily snatching your roommate’s computers while they’re out to rub one out, you might want to reevaluate your situation and admit you are a shady, shitty roommate. I’m a bartender, and I can afford a laptop. I’m not going to stand in your way to fill your hard drive with vaginas and tits and anal videos. But don’t fucking go doing it on mine, and delete my history to cover your ass. Are you using your roommates personal computer without permission to watch porn while they aren’t home? Then you’re a shitty roommate who needs to buy an iPad.
This post is presented in partnership with BroBible.com.