This may be an unfortunate way to start, but my inspiration this week is that an 81 year old man in Toronto just got arrested for murdering his roommate in his downtown nursing home. There are many things wrong with this (starting with the murder thing) but perhaps the most important is that he had a roommate. Whoever may have the power to prevent such things who might be listening (or reading) at this moment, I ask of you please, please, please, should I ever be unlucky enough to be in a nursing home, please let me not have a roommate.
I have done pretty well over the ‘roommate’ years at not having a roommate. But sometimes you just need to go there. My initiation in roommate-hood was in first year University, when I roomed with Sherry Nixon. Back in the day, they published a phone list of everyone in the dorm. The day happened to be 1974. Even before Sherry turned up, I was pressed into fielding her calls from people who wanted to insist that she was ‘not a crook.’ She was actually delightful, except when she entertained her boyfriend rather energetically on the other side of the room. As a consolation prize, her boyfriend ended up corresponding with me long after Sherry had dropped out and was living with her potential husband and two or four children in a trailer park called Montecello (get the Edge of Night reference anyone?) somewhere in greater metropolitan Orangeville.
My next foray was bunking in at a house share for the summer in Waterloo. It was a lovely experience, except when we discovered the bag of meat left out in the back porch due to lack of freezer space (you can probably imagine what that smelled like in July), and that Elvis happened to die. Although I should mention that Ross was a little weird up in the attic on his own except for the random men he would have for sleepovers (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and Reg who we dubbed the ‘macho beast’ because of the nature of his underwear. I would advise not to ask for further clarification.
My (hopefully) final roommate experience happened when I was at Dalhousie University after I escaped the YWCA to more permanent digs (back story to come). I visited the campus housing office about three times a day until I got a potential placement at a highrise residence configured as an apartment with two shared bedrooms, a bathroom, living room and kitchen. When I showed up to view it, my future roommates were lounging around in sweatpants, drinking beer and watching wrestling on TV, and barely grunted in my general direction. Little did they know I was so desperate to get out of the ‘Y’ I would have paid them key money. Anyhow, I did move in with Paula, Paula and Paula and we ended up having not a bad time – except when Paula’s boyfriend was visiting who would only eat very spicy spaghetti sauce, or Paula was hanging out with her married army guy who may or may not have had post traumatic stress disorer , or Paula was having an existential crisis that involved acquiring numerous books she thought she should read that really did not fit into her side of the room.
Anyhow, just put me in the same company as Marlene Dietrich. When it comes to accommodation, I really do want to be left alone.