Some while after my first break up and shortly before I started dating Sean I found myself in need of a roof over my head with very little by way of money to achieve that end. Luckily, I lived in a college town which caters to students whose financial situations were similar to mine even if our lives were slightly different.
I wound up renting a room in a four-bedroom place, with each bedroom rented out to a different person and a communal living room, bathroom, and kitchen. When I was talking with the landlord prior to moving in he expressed a slight concern, as all the other renters were men. “Why should that be a problem?” I wondered, “We’re all adults.” My landlord (whose office was apparently his car because that’s where I signed the lease – listen, being poor leads to shadiness no matter who you are) shrugged and took my money.
But no. We were not all adults.
Before I even moved in, the gent who had rented out the front bedroom got hit by a car. Like, reallly creamed. He took up semi-permanent residence in the hospital. “Haha,” I laughed, “I hope that’s not an omen or anything!”
On the bright side, the room went instead to another (gasp!) woman. Zelda was, by virtue of being almost never present, a fairly good roomie. In retrospect, and by comparison, the woman was a f***ing gem.
The middle bedroom belonged to Geordi. Geordi was hard to quantify. He lived in this poor person haven, but he sure as heck had a lot of video games, nice clothes, and plentiful amounts of food. He also didn’t appear to have any kind of job. Oh he would be out of the house fairly often, but never on a schedule and when we would cross paths he never mentioned anything like work.
There were two bedrooms in the back. One was mine and the other belonged to Captain Cuckoo Banana Pants. Cap’n Pants was was very proud of his African/Irish background and his majoring in psychology. He had a lot of stuff. Even more video games and electronics than Geordi, even. It became the first reason why we butted heads. As the living room was communal space, I put my papasan chair and bookshelf there.
“Oh,” Pants sniffed at me, “I was told not to put my things in here. But I guess you’re special.”
After blinking a lot to get over the fact that someone in real life actually says “I guess you’re special,” I decided to just check in with the landlord. He was, quite rightly, like, “Fuck if I care. Do what you want as long as you don’t break the terms of the lease.” That’s a paraphrase. He explained that he had told Pants not to put his things in the living room because Pants’ things were piles and piles of boxes, and the landlord had not wanted to scare off other renters. So I left my things where they were and it seemed to be no problem. Pants had all his boxes split between his room and the attic space.
A few days went by and as they went I observed a shift in hostilities from me to Geordi. Pants messed with his food, turned off lights he was asked to leave on, and generally needled him at every opportunity.
I don’t even remember the specifics that brought that conflict to a head, all I remember is that somebody broke (punched) the kitchen light switch. I was playing Persona in my bedroom when the sound of belligerent males making their dominance displays reached my ears.
This, I thought, is definitely not my problem.
Which is when Pants started wailing my name. Sigh, F***ing fine.
I found both men in the living room, Geordi had Pants quite admirably restrained in a sort of headlock arrangement. My martial arts friends probably could have put a name to it, but I couldn’t and can’t. At any rate I saw a situation that was not an emergency and STILL not my f***ing business. Nevertheless, having been summoned, I asked if maybe Geordi thought letting go now was a good idea. Pants was released and headed towards the back of the house. Geordi and I had a brief talk, if I recall he wanted to make sure I wasn’t freaked out. I reassured him and retreated to my room.
And Pants was in my room. Because of course he was. “You probably can’t understand this,” he told me, “Because you’re not a psychology major, but I planned that.” Apparently his master strategy was to get his ass beat and have the landlord throw Geordi out because of it.
At this point in life I was doing much better than in months previous, but I would not hesitate to use the words “situational depression” to describe it. I did not have the spoons for this bullshit. I communicated this concept to Pants.
“Please get out of my room.”
As far as placating the crazy went, this probably wasn’t the best choice. A better long term strategy might have been to pat his stupid head and tell him he was clever. Better, but even with hindsight I don’t think I could have done it.
The totally not surprising frantic call came from my landlord the next morning. Landlord told me that, as first to move in, Pants had hoped to have the whole place to himself, and this might (definitely) have something to do with his efforts to get rid of one or more of us. Roomie of the year, that one. I explained what happened and that I gave not a single s**t. All I wanted was to keep having a place to, you know, f***ing live.
So we all kept living there. For months. Geordi and Pants actually managed to bro it out somehow and come to livable terms. But Pants had all this vitriol and nowhere to put it besides me. It mostly took the form of dirty looks and putting his speakers right against the wall between my bedroom and his and then playing his s**t music really loud during sleeping hours. Jerky, but whatever, man.
Then one day at work I got a call from Pants. He informed me that we had bedbugs and he wanted to know what I, personally, was going to do about it. When I told him I wasn’t going to do shit because I wasn’t the landlord he was… miffed.
Let me tell you about bedbugs. They’re terrible. They can see your blood and they pursue it with single minded determination. You can leave the lights on and that makes them a little shy, but as soon as you fall asleep they’re coming for you. Bedbug-proof the legs of your bed (if you’re not sleeping on a mattress on the floor, which I was) and they will just crawl up the wall, across the ceiling, and then drop down on you from above like a blood sucking little paratrooper. They don’t carry disease, thank goodness, but they bite the s**t out of you.
But they’re also lazy little bastards, and if there’s a blood source at hand, they don’t venture far in search of fresh flavors. And at this point in time only Cap’n Pants was getting bit up. This, plus the exterminator’s report that the infestation was located in Pants’ room and the attic space above indicates that either Pants was the bringer of the bedbugs or they had been infesting that space prior to our move in.
Personally, I think that Pants knew he was bringing bedbugs in, and that’s why he stored most of his things in the attic rather than his room. But I might be just a little bit butthurt, because he launched an all out attack to pin me for our repulsive little friends. What really sticks out in my memory is the time I woke up to him s***talking me to Zelda right outside my bedroom in the middle of the night.
Our landlord paid for bedbug treatment. But the thing is that we were told not to move for a month. This is to allow the spray to kill the bedbugs so we won’t just move them to (yet another) new house.
Listen. I like rules. Following the rules means I’m doing the right thing and I don’t have to worry. So. I hunkered down for another month in bedbug apartment with aggressive roommate.
Pants stopped sleeping in his room and started camping out in the living room, so the bedbugs marched across the wall into my room and started munching on me. It was awful. You can’t not sleep. I couldn’t afford to sleep in hotels or anything. I didn’t want to be like “Hey friends! Let me possibly screw up and make your house infested!” So each night I would just lay down and try to sleep, knowing I was going to have bedbugs all over me as soon as I got still.
My cat deserves a trophy. He caught and ate the things like they were treats.
I had only started dating Sean a few weeks previously, so we got to have the oh-so-crucial “I’m infested with bloodsucking pests” relationship discussion. Sean also deserves a trophy.
I think my landlord went with the cheap option because it did absolutely nothing. He ponied up for another treatment but I was done being eaten alive. I made arrangements with a guy at work to move into the free space in front of his apartment in the meth-y part of town and started throwing out all my things because that’s what you have to do. Bedbugs get into everything: books, electronics, furniture, clothes. If you can put it in a hot dryer for an hour or freeze it for a long time (think months) then you can safely take it. Everything else has to go, and so go it did. When I did move, all my worldly possessions fit into two big garbage bags that I threw into the back of Sean’s car. So in that way it was the easiest move ever!
One early afternoon, as I was cramming more of my things into the trash, Geordi came home and he was, well let’s just say my stuff wasn’t all that was trashed that day. He was stinkin’. And he was really upset.
Up to this point, I had considered Geordi the good roomie. We chatted in the kitchen sometimes and aside from his early kerfuffle with Pants he had always seemed perfectly sane.
He couldn’t believe I had decided to move without telling him. He didn’t know what he would do if I left. Did I know he was they heir to a Canadian nickel mine? Well he totally was. Did I know it had really hurt him when I started dating Sean? Apparently it had. He thought I was aces. He thought the way I minded my own and took myself to my s***ty job every day was just super neat. He thought I was the kind of woman he could really trust with his totally not fictional crazy talk Canadian nickel mine money.
I don’t know about you, but I know this is when my survival instinct comes out to play and I say whatever the crazy man wants to hear so I don’t get murdered. Of course we’re going to stay friends! You think it’s a shame I’m throwing out my stuff and want to hold on to it for me? Why that’s so nice. Sure, I’ll totally pick them up as soon as I can and we’ll hang out or some s**t. Sure.
My last week in that apartment was spent being as close to invisible as I could make myself so that I roused as little interest as possible from Canuck Moneybags and the Bedbug Kid.
To end on a positive note, my new place in the Meth district was awesome! It was painted all kinds of bright appropriate colors and it was enormous. I could put my things wherever and until Sean moved in I had one room that was just for yoga. And one time the house right across the street burned down when the lab inside it went critical. Good times.
Geordi kept trying to call me intermittently for a couple of months until I remembered that I could block numbers. I hope he found some other person to believe in his nickel fortune with him. I hope Captain Crazy Pants got eaten to death by his own bedbugs. Or not. Whatever. I’m not bitter.