yesterday i was on chuck's back deck and through the apple tree i saw a blur of white tank top and dark mesh shorts. a frizzy swath of brown hair and that lazy, clunky stroll of a man child half-wearing plastic adidas sandals, scuttling along late for work.
i'd know those tube socks anywhere. i didn't need to smell them. i didn't need to hear him peel out or the tone deaf singalong to rascal flatts through his truck window to know my former roommate was was in the alley behind chuck's garage.
from my perch, i was essentially in a tree house. completely hidden from former roommate's view. and for the third time in less than a week, i thought: "thank you sweet jesus for hiding me behind this apple tree."
my former roommate is dating the woman who lives across the alley. a woman i'm sure is quite sweet, if you can get past the way she bastardized beer pong at bacon fest in a completely unforgiveable way. i'm not sure how you play beer pong, but in my world when the keg cups are filled with beer and set up like bowling pins at the end of the table, you are not allowed to cover the target with your arms and distract your opponent with a sweaty cave of drunken cleavage. if the ping pong ball bounces, yes, you are allowed to swat it out of the way. but this layer of human flesh shield, these mounds of stretched ribbed white wife beater and that stern no-bullshit look is a stone cold fun-suck.
it is precisely this kind of "new rule" that ruins all games: like the whole "no hitting a runner in the head with the ball" that bastardized kickball.
["ever since she and i started dating, we changed the rules to beer pong a little," he downplayed after i'd already almost lost that night at bacon fest. "now, if you're a girl, you can deke like you're going to block the shot. you just can't obstruct the ball."] righto, man-child. what's next? a three-cup handicap for the ladies? your chivalry is stupid.
i don't really talk to my former roommate anymore. and maybe some people believe this is a weakness in my character. that i could live with someone for a year and a half, and then consider the whole moving out thing to be a metaphorical boil removal. not storing the good times in a jar of rubbing alcohol, rather lancing the fucker and forgetting it happened.
before he was my roommate, my former roommate lived downstairs from me in an efficiency apartment: two mattresses crammed into a single room and mountain dew bottles filled with muddy chew spit. we had a lot in common: he was a 21 year old boy and i thought i was a 21 year old boy.
i'm not trying to rewrite history. we had some good times: once we opened schultz's at 6 a.m., and i can only assume it was fun because the carbon copies in my check book indicated that we ordered pizza twice by the time i spilled my second beer and we were 86'd at mid-afternoon. and there were positives to having a roommate. one thing that comes to mind is sitting on the toilet and realizing too late that we were out of toilet paper. sending him scurrying to the fourth street market before i was forced to drip dry. plus, he was afraid of me. and for a long time, that was what i looked for in a 21-year-old friend.
roommate-hood, however, is supposed to be a money-saving manuever. half the rent. half the groceries. half the toothpaste. he managed to be driving my car the only time i've ever gotten a flat tire and the time it was t-boned by an insurance-less hussy at the ghetto spur. not to mention that he didn't buy groceries and he didn't buy toothpaste and when he didn't pay rent, my landlord hunted me down.
then there was the incident with his cousin and the stripper ... i'm not a judgemental sort, but there just wasn't enough bleach in the world to make my toilet seat feel less like an infectious disease.
i thought kicking him out would be awkward, but he rebounded quickly. set up a little home for himself in proctor with a few friends. he used to call occasionally and slur about how we were best friends and should hang out and get a beer and best friends and beer, ya know. and i'd nod and say sure and maybe sometime and uh huh.
so this is how it is, now. i can leisurely enjoy my final cigarette of the evening, or first of the day, and a quite night in the hillside is pierced by a car door slamming, and the man-child's voice:
"brando! grab the water!"
and i cower in the treehouse and thank jesus that he can't see me.