Friends, there are roommate horror stories, and then we have the stuff of true terror.
Mine is a nightmare tale on a colossal scale – it’s Single White Female, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Fatal Attraction, The Sixth Sense – and even a The Little Silence of the Lambs – all rolled into one.
So when New York Magazine last month published Worst Roommate Ever by Alex Miller, I scoffed. And I chortled.
And I said with a mad glint in my eye, “Hold my beer”.
A fascinating (and terrifying) story about a “a serial squatter” who relished the anguish of those who had taken him in without realizing that they would soon be pulled into a terrifying battle for their home. https://t.co/UiuCj3Z6T1
— Baradwaj Rangan (@baradwajrangan) March 3, 2018
Let’s compare the stories.
Miller advertises for a roommate and very soon, a lawyer called Jed Creek becomes ensconced in her home. At this point, it’s relevant to understand the true meaning of ‘ensconced’ – it means that person is very comfortable and pleased with themselves and has no intention of ever leaving. And in my case, of ever leaving me alone.
At first, there’s no sign of danger. It goes swimmingly. Jed Creek cared for his pets and was seemingly decent, but reserved, company.
Same thing happened to me – at first, my roommate barely spoke a word to me, but it was a comfortable, amicable silence. We knew our roles. It was all my dreams come true; I was finally sharing a house with someone I really liked having around.
But then, just like Jed Creek, he got bolder.
Miller noticed the early red flags: Creek stole light bulbs from the living room, and the chairs from the dining room.
For me, I would often walk into the lounge to find the sofa cushions missing – they’d been taken into my roommate’s bedroom and been fashioned into a strange cave. The batteries from my TV remote controls were also regularly removed – he’d stolen them to use in his own devices.
His stuff was always everywhere I looked, everywhere I stepped; and yet, when I needed anything of mine – the kitchen scissors, my leather gloves, sometimes even my own pillow – my roommate had taken it for his own.
There was the usual stuff, too, like towels all over the bathroom floor. I was the only one who ever did the laundry, and somehow, he’d sneak in his dirty clothes.
He’d barge into rooms unannounced. He had selective hearing when the phone or door bell rang. It was only in later years that I managed to eventually shower in peace without door-knocking or unwelcome interruptions.
How specific can you get in a housemate ad before it becomes offensive? The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss.
I tried talking to my roommate about all of this. I tried telling him that he needed to pay his share of the rent and earn his keep. I made it clear that he was a guest in my home.
But he didn’t see it like that at all. Neither did Jed Creek – who turned out, after investigation by Miller, to be a man named Jamison Bachman.
Similarly, I didn’t really know the person I was living with. He changed over the years, and became utterly intolerable at times. There was nothing I could do about it: I was his hostage. Even the law was on his side.
My roommate had earned ‘squatters rights’ and no matter how unpleasant I tried to make it for him by constantly nagging, and regularly breaking down in tears whilst screeching my demands, he just wouldn’t leave.
Sure, I didn’t get fake cheques and names, like Miller did – but I’ve had emotional blackmail. My whole relationship with my roommate is about stepping around his known vulnerabilities – his inability to gain employment, his lack of family who’s legally obliged to care for him.
And that’s the real problem: this roommate that’s taken over my home and my life for more than a decade? He’s solely my responsibility.
That’s right: my horror roommate is my ten-year-old son.