My College Roommate Was Worse Than Your College Roommate
I met my freshman year college roommate the way almost everyone does: over the telephone. It’s a preposterous task, handing an 18-year-old kid a phone number and saying “hey, call this person you’ve never met and know nothing about and get cool with the fact that you’ll be sharing a tiny bedroom with him for the next year of your life. Oh, also, decide who’s gonna bring the TV!” But, that’s what colleges do. And occasionally you hear about these conversations going well, like between a couple of really bubbly girls, or, say, two dumb people, but in my case it did not. I blame Dave Matthews.
ME: Hey man, I just thought I’d call so we could get to know each other a bit. How do I pronounce your name? Mmmm…
HIM: Yeah, dawg, cool cool. Gotta run though, going into the city to see the Dave Matthews Band.
ME: Oh, cool. Have you seen him before?
HIM: Before? Eight times this summer, dawg. Plus, I got 20 sweet boots from this tour alone. [I later learned that sweet boots referred to bootleg recordings, not actual boots belonging to Dave Matthews, which would have been much more fun.] I’ll call ya later!
ME: OK, talk to you later, Mmmm…wait, how do I say your name again?
Click. Dial tone. Totally awesome. As it turned out, his name was pronounced Mike-ah, which I learned on the first day of college and not when he called me back, because that never actually happened. But that’s cool. We were 18 and he was very very into Dave Matthews — I didn’t expect prompt call returning to be his greatest skill. His true talent, as I later learned, lay in a creative approach to cleaning and home repair.
People generally have very strong opinions about their first college roommate. Either they made fast friends and ended up in each other’s wedding parties, or they hated each other and talked shit from opposite sides of the cafeteria. One way or the other, it’s always intense, and people tend to get competitive about it. You’re probably reading this right now, thinking, “I don’t care what this jerk’s roommate did, mine was definitely worse.” But the thing about it is, you’re wrong. Not about the jerk part, I’m totally a jerk. But your roommate can’t possibly beat mine because Mica liked to drink, and when he drank, things went horribly horribly wrong.
I first witnessed Mica’s approach to alcohol about a month into school. I was heading out of the room around 9 p.m. as he in stumbled past me, far drunker than a person should be at 9, unless their country was just victorious in a world war. But hey, it was a Friday night, and he was very into Dave Matthews. You gotta make allowances. And honestly, I wasn’t even surprised when I returned home several hours later to find the room reeking of puke. That was the college life, and I found it oddly comforting to have found myself a distinctly collegiate roommate. Even if he was sort of a douche. But what I discovered in the morning was distinctly not comforting. Mica hadn’t thrown up in the garbage as I had optimistically hoped. No, Mica had apparently thrown up on the carpeting next to his bed. I say apparently, because in the space where the vomit clearly would’ve been, there was nothing but a large, jagged hole in the carpet and a discarded pair of scissors. That’s right, instead of cleaning up his mess, my freshman year roommate had simply cut the offending piece out of the carpet and tossed it in the garbage. Nothing remained but three sad feet of bald linoleum.
I quickly learned that this was standard operating procedure for the MicMan. He would hit the bars at 7, get Lindsay Lohan level intoxicated, then come back to our dorm and throw it all up onto our poor, innocent carpeting. Then, each morning, he would take out his trusty sheers and turn our floor into a giant piece of swiss cheese. It got the point where you could track his night’s behavior just by looking at the ground. OK, there’s a small hole next to the refrigerator, he must’ve gotten up to get some water. Then, judging by the polka dot cutouts by his desk, he stumbled over and tried to set his alarm and puked a little bit… and, yes, yes, it looks like he stopped to listen to a bit of talk radio. Who doesn’t love a little boozy Rush Limbaugh? After it looks like he sauntered to the middle of the room, and started dancing or maybe doing some jumping jacks? The spatter-mark holes are hard to read there. Then of course we head over to the bed whether the ever-growing, original hole had seen another night of heavy expansion. I swear, after the second semester the entire area around his bed was totally nude – not a stitch of carpeting in sight. It looked like he had built a moat to ward off tiny intruders. Like a great British king, or a tremendous, tremendous douche bag.
Overall, the year with Mica had its ups and downs. There was the time he had a prospective student sleep on our floor, then almost puked on him in the middle of the night. Or the night someone broke into our room and shaved his eyebrows off in his sleep. And… OK, I’m having trouble remembering any of the ups. But I’m sure they existed. My relationship with Mica ended just as it began, with a phone call. However this one was not between us, but rather to the Chaplain in charge of our dorm. Destroying large portions of your the dorm room was frowned up at my school, as it would be in any other, and just Mica’s luck, it was a Catholic school, so he had to explain his predicament to a priest. The only words I could hear from my end were “food poisoning” and “just seemed easier than cleaning” and of course, the long-held collegiate classic, “my parents will pay for the damage.” He got away with it of course, as the Micas always do, without even once having to explain that he listened to the Dave Matthews Band.
So whattaya think? Can you beat that?
A | A | A
If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”