I don’t recall that we were looking for a roommate. It all just seemed to happen, like one of those sequence of events you can’t comprehend until you’re lying in a hospital somewhere thinking it all through.
At first he seemed like an angel. Quiet, undemanding, always good natured and rarely raising his voice. Most times you weren’t even aware of his presence in the house. Slowly, however, he began to change, began to show his true personality. By then it was too late to do anything about it.
To anyone studying metamorphoses this would be a classic case. He went from being a silent presence to being always present and never silent. His sweet disposition evolved into a mercurial humor that at any moment could start spitting lightning and smoke. Gone was the good companion and in his place we found the monster who had come to stay. We had been given a promise and left with a brooding presence. Let me now describe this creature who inhabits our house.
He’s rude to a fault.
Sometimes he ignores you, other times he merely frowns at what you say. Offer him something to eat and he’ll tell you he doesn’t like what you have. If he ever gives a thought to your feelings it’s only to consider if you’re angry at him and the impact that could have on him getting what he wants.
And tell him he can’t have what he wants; just see what that brings up! You’ll watch him dissolve like Alka Seltzer into a frothful rage. Doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing.
“I’m sorry, you can’t have that,” you tell him, trying to sound both gentle and firm.
He’ll have none of it and immediately begin banging his soup spoon against the table top.
“Stop doing that,” you warn, trying to maintain an air of gentle resolve.
He starts rocking his chair back and forth, the rage mounting with each noisy shift.
“Don’t shake your chair,” you whisper angrily. Suddenly, all other weapons momentarily engaged, he starts to cry. Instantly fifty pair of eyes in the restaurant turn to stare at your table with thinly-veiled hostility.
Rarely does he start his day in a mood for conversation. Tell him “Good morning” and he tells you not to say that. Ask him how he slept and he tells you to go away. He’s not the living partner you would ever choose from even the most limited selections of prospective roommates and paroled convicts. He never brushes his teeth or puts away dirty clothes, invariably tracks mud and damp leaves across freshly vacuumed carpets.
He’s Godzilla The Roommate and through some odd working of fate he’s come to live with you.
All this outlandish behavior naturally has an impact on the normal processes of life. You have to think twice before cutting his grilled cheese sandwich. A wrong cut—say a diagonal instead of a square—could easily throw him into a fit of despair. Milk poured into the wrong cup could lead to accusations, mistrust ,even violence. You have no wish to be selfish but under fear of his dangerously nonchalant attitude, you hide your precious belongings—your expensive cologne, your wallet, your family photo albums, even your shoes.
Soon you realize he’s taken over your life. There’s never a thought to anyone’s needs but his own. He wants to watch TV and it’s usually something that bores you to tears. He wants ice cream for dessert, sometimes with chocolate sauce, sometimes not— he’ll only tell you after you’ve mistakenly chosen the wrong option. He wants roller skates. He wants a story read. He wants to be alone with your wife. He wants. He wants. HE WANTS.
Finally, almost as therapy, you start imagining what life would be like without him. You picture him grown up, maybe at college, maybe married, maybe even with one or two little Godzillas of his own. You imagine the house without the piercing cry of an angry petulant three-year-old monster—without the scattered toys, the army of stuffed animals, the marbles you always step on in your bare feet, the bookshelves filled with Golden Books, the nightlights, the pajamas with feet, the red rubber boots dripping dark wetness on the kitchen floor—you see all the trappings and emotional furor suddenly gone from your house, swept like magic from the days of your life.
And sentimental fool that you are, you begin to feel sad and lonely.
He’s Godzilla the roommate and, God willing, he’s yours for the next 20 years.
Absolutely wonderful, Paul!
Sorry about the Trump non-sequitur.Can’t imagine how it got in. Just vacuumed it out. Glad you enjoyed the piece anyway. Hope life is treating you well. Best, Paul