Today is my little brother’s 21st birthday. Now all three of us siblings could go out to a bar together (if I didn’t live 2200 miles away, that is) and that kinda blows my mind a little bit. In honor of Ted’s 21st birthday, I will share the story of my 21st because I’m sure that, six years later, I will look back and laugh right?
*Fair warning, in case you didn’t know it before, I’m a long story-teller. Sorry, brevity is against my nature.*
I should start by saying that my junior year of college, I lived with a girl who I met off of the UCSD housing website. I picked my roommate off of a four-sentence blurb. And she wasn’t all bad, but she and I weren’t destined to be BFFs. I attribute that (mostly) to her friend who clearly wore the pants in that friendship. This friend, who I will refer to as The Queen, was always using our apartment as if it was her own. I had brought a ton of kitchen stuff to the house relationship— pots, pans, plates, forks, knives, etc. Almost every night The Queen used all of it to cook, leaving me with nothing to use because everything was already dirty by the time I got home from work. For the most part it didn’t bug me, because, since I didn’t care for The Queen much, I stayed to myself. She was trying to run our “household” and I didn’t care enough to fight that battle. But she certainly didn’t leave room for me to have any sort of friendship with my actual roommate. The Queen’s sheer presence in the apartment was torture, a feeling that had developed over the past 5 or 6 months of me knowing her and her commandeering my house often. Well, that did it, along with my roommate’s affinity for smoking (something she lied about when I originally met her) and her constant dead-bolting of the front door and falling asleep so I was unable to get in when I would get home from work (after she made a huge point to say unless we were both home, it shouldn’t be bolted.) The list went on, but a high point was my 21st birthday.
My birthday was always about two weeks after we’d get back from Christmas break in college and in preparation for my 21st, I had taken a gift certificate I had received to Browns Valley Market and purchased four (butter-and-garlic) marinated tri tips which are possibly my favorite thing to eat, snackin’ cake aside. I froze them solid the day before I drove back to SD and then packed them on ice in a cooler for my drive. This was to be my birthday feast.
I even extended an invitation to my roommate when I got home, telling her I would be 21 the weekend of the 17th (my birthday was on a Saturday–woot!) and I told her I was going to have a few people over for dinner on that Friday and she was welcome to join us. As I recall, she nodded in agreement, not over-zealously, but in acknowledgment of my invite.
About a week later, in passing, my roommate mentioned she was going to have her wisdom teeth out. In an attempt to bond with her, I told her I had had mine out and that my parents thought it would be funny to take a camcorder and memorialize my chipmunk teeth for all eternity . She said she was glad she was at least having it done on a Friday, where she would have the entire weekend to recoup, before having to be seen again in public. It was then that she told me she had scheduled the appointment for January 16. Sirens and little red lights went off in my head but all that came out was “aw, bummer! You are gonna miss out on the tri tip for my birthday dinner! That’s the night I’m having people over. Oh well, I have more in the freezer, you can try it another time.” I though surely she wouldn’t feel up to being social after having oral surgery.
Fast-forward to me getting home from work on Thursday the 15th. My roommate’s mother (a classy broad, who had a tiny stud piercing in her nose and from the looks of things, shared her 18-year old daughter’s wardrobe despite being more than twice her daughter’s age) along with the aforementioned 18-year old daughter, are in my apartment, along with The Queen and my roommate. Apparently they were all going to stay with us that weekend because my roommate “needed help” after having her wisdom teeth out. I’m sorry, but it’s not like the removal of her wisdom teeth immobilized her. She didn’t need help getting out of bed. Why was it necessary for half her family to stay with us?
The best part is that they were going to live it up before the surgery and the mom was going to hold down the fort while the other girls went out to the bars (yes, the 18-year old went along too). I even made a comment to the mother later on in the evening when I took the entree out of the freezer to thaw, thinking that if she were anything like my mother, she would have enough common sense to register that information and leave/make her (and others in her party) scarce the next evening.
Irritated that the one time I wanted to have people over she herself invited a house full of people to stay over, I reminded my roommate before she left for the bars that I was going to have people over for dinner the next night since I couldn’t go out til midnight on that Friday night. It clearly went in one ear and out the other because I got home (early) from work to get dinner ready the next evening and found The Queen using all of my dishware, pots, pans and anything else I would have wanted to use for the one time that I had people over in the common area.
I was pissed, I didn’t care that my roommate had had her wisdom teeth out that day, and I didn’t hide it.
Terse and biting words were exchanged between The Queen and myself. There was also a heavy dose of sarcasm doled out on my part when The Queen rolled her eyes at me for being irritated and asking them if they were ‘going to be done anytime soon since I had a planned dinner party that I had already informed my roommate (you know, the girl who actually paid rent?) about’. She continued cooking with my stuff, with zero regard for the fact that I needed it to fix an entire meal for people who would be descending on our apartment in less than two hours. I vacuumed over their conversations, retreated to my room, called my mother, crying that I hated living with my roommate…it was not awesome.
The guy that I was seeing at the time arrived bearing an armful of flowers and, bless his heart, jumped in to help as I tried very hard to not cry tears of frustration. I was only having about 4 people over and they were all previously aware of The Queen and her constant presence and otherwise bitchy personality so the evening was no shock to them.
The dinner turned out to be a debacle unto itself. I ran out of propane for the grill and had to break out my charcoal grill, which in turn slowed the cooking of the tri tip. I was having to wash some of their dirty dishes in order to have enough to use for my meal and the entire time my friends were over, the other “party” stayed in the room, watching the Laker game. Yea, that wasn’t awkward at all.
Finally, they retreated to the roommate’s bedroom when we sat down to eat. At 10pm.
Halfway through the meal, I had calmed down and my friends and I were laughing and talking. I hear my roommate’s bedroom door open and The Queen comes out and asked if she could “talk to me in private for a minute”. Seething at the interruption, I walked to my bedroom doorway approximately 10 feet from the table (we didn’t exactly live in a mansion, mind you) and sarcastically asked if this would work for her request for privacy.
She begins, in a patronizing voice: “you know…I know it’s your birthday and all, but…you know…she just had her wisdom teeth out and…she’s under the weather…” and she continues to tell me a whole host of other feminine issues my roommate has and closes with “so you and your friends really need to keep it down.”
I was almost shaking I was so mad at the gall she had to tell me how to behave in the apartment that I paid for, that she didn’t.
I glared at her and told The Queen that my roommate was perfectly aware of the fact that I was planning this dinner before she scheduled that appointment and it’s unfortunate that it falls on the same day as the one night I wanted to have people over but if she had a problem, she needed to come talk to me.
I walked back to my guests and told them that apparently we were being too loud and we really should keep it down. They felt my pain and shook their heads in disbelief. We quickly finished eating and I stacked the dishes up in the sink before inhaling some snackin’ cake and we left. I might have slammed the front door upon my exit.
We went to a bar in Del Mar where the bouncer let me in at 11:30, to enjoy a drink thirty minutes premature, because my friends told him to ‘trust them, I had earned it’. I had an apple-tini before retreating home to a dark, quiet house later in the night.
When I woke up the next morning, there was a note from my roommate’s mother on our white board where we left phone messages. It read “do your dishes so you don’t get ants.” Umm…thanks for the tip. I don’t know what kind of home she lived in, but mine is typically clean enough to where if I leave dishes in the sink over night, ants don’t come. It wasn’t as though they had been piled up for a fortnight.
After that fun-filled weekend, my roommate and I didn’t speak and only communicated via post-it notes, unless we had to ask each other to move their car, since we had tandem parking spots. Unless she just left me a key on the kitchen table and a post-it that said “move it yourself if you need to.” That was special. I moved out as soon as our lease was up, since that weekend was merely icing on the cake of run-ins, but it certainly was a “memorable” 21st birthday.
It is my sincere wish that my brother go 3-4 in his scrimmage for his birthday. That would be a way better way to spend such a milestone.