I Take It All Back
Yes, I take it all back. Every complaint about living with my husband, that is.
Because I was just reminded of another roommate I had long, long time ago. My first college roommate.
Let’s call her Blanche. (I thought about calling her Repulsa, but let’s stick with Blanche.)
And what brought Blanche back to mind after all these years?
Well, a dear friend of mine told me today that he was having a small set-back in his recovery from hemorrhoid surgery.
And I simultaneously thought: “Yuck” and “What a pain in the ass” – and that just led me right to Blanche.
When I first arrived at UConn, I was so excited – a campus, a dorm, a roommate – how cool was that? (especially after a year of night classes, and then commuting to the local little branch of the university) I arrived a day early, and had dinner that night with the other early-birds in my dorm. When I mentioned to them that my roommate Blanche had not yet arrived, one of the girls gave me a look that was full of pity. Then she caught herself, and said that Blanche was her roommate the previous semester. She said that they didn’t especially get along, but that Blanche was a nice girl. Nice try.
But I was determined to find the best of Blanche. We would be great roomies!
And then I met her.
Blanche hated all the dorm food. It was so beneath her. She never ate such garbage at home. She told me this while munching on her favorite snack – PixyStix. Straws filled with flavored sugar. She ate them daily. By the dozen. While reading romance novels.
Now I have nothing against romance novels. But Blanche read romance novels while I studied. I was a serious student. I studied from 7 to 11 every night. Blanche read novels. At at eleven, when I turned off my light and went to bed, she took out her books to finally study. 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM. Slurping on the sugar straws.
When she wasn’t having her alternate snack.
I’ve never been that crazy about chewing gum. But I found that sometimes it helped keep me awake when I was reading my medieval history text. You may think that I am about to complain that Blanche snapped her gum. Nope. Blanche thought gum was a waste of money. “I don’t know why you would bother to buy gum,” she said. “When I feel like chewing on something, I just chew on a Kleenex.” (yes, you read that right.)
And she was messy. Those Pixystix were everywhere. (I’m not sure what happened to the chewed Kleenex – perhaps she swallowed it. Or stuck it to the bedpost for the next night.) We had so much sugar on the floor, I warned her that we would have roaches if she didn’t cut it out. And she admitted that her boyfriend would not sleep over because her bed was always full of crumbs. Did that make her feel humiliated? Apparently not.
Blanche came from a family that was once rich and successful. They made some terrible investments, and were now getting by through sponging off wealthy friends (and moving often). Blanche’s tuition was paid for by Blanche’s politically-connected godmother – who was the recipient of a tearful plea, with the school’s past-due notice attached.
So they had fallen on hard times. Who am I to judge? I tried to empathize. But it was just a teensy-bit ironic that Blanche was ashamed of her boyfriend’s mother. “She works in a factory,” Blanche complained. I politely suggested that perhaps it was admirable for a single mom to work so hard in a factory so that her son could go to college. There was no shame in parents who were moochers, no shame in a bed too gross for her boyfriend – no, there was shame because his mother punched a clock.
Have I grossed you out enough? Wait, there’s more.
Blanche’s bathroom habits were the talk of the dorm. No one wanted to be at the next sink while she pretended to brush her teeth. And she saw no reason to actually bring a bathrobe when she took a shower. So we saw way more of her than we wanted. But we didn’t really see that much of her in an actual toilet stall. Blanche told me, “Bowel movements are disgusting. That’s why I only go once a week.”
I did actually feel bad for Blanche one night. She had an important party to attend. She had a velvet dress in her trunk in the storage area of the basement, but when she went to retrieve it, she found that her trunk had been vandalized – and the contents scattered all over the floor. Her velvet dress was very dirty. By this time, I had practically drawn a line on the floor so she wouldn’t come anywhere near me or my things. But I couldn’t help sympathizing with her poor dress. “Do you want me to see if I can help you clean it up?” I asked. “Maybe we can steam it in the shower.” But she refused my help. “I already took care of it,” Blanche said. “I sucked on the worst of the stains until they came out.”
That’s when I asked for a new roommate for the next semester.
And that’s why living with an eccentric husband is really an easy delight.
And do you know what I disliked most about Blanche?
Her boyfriend was really cute!