I moved into my first flat when I was twenty with an affable, nerdy and completely unattractive British accountant who had just sensibly invested his money into a house in the burbs of Auckland. It was me, him and an overweight girl called Cindy who would say things to me like, “You’re welcome to borrow my clothes, we look around the same size” and, “It’s Friday night, aren’t you going out?” as she left with her boyfriend. There was also the memorable time that she woke me up by smooshing her face right into mine and yelling, “Is this pink eye?” It was, and I wasn’t happy. Anyway, we survived all living together for a short time until Cindy’s henpecked boyfriend asked her to move in with him and I was left with the bean counter and no one to passive aggressively talk to anymore. But then his workmate moved in – a homely and rotund secretary called Mary. I knew she had a crush on the accountant and was already wifeying the shit out of him before she’d even come in the door. She began by putting a vase of plastic flowers on the toilet and covering the couch with a polarfleece blanket that had a picture of a once-majestic Bengal tiger on it. She cleaned constantly and would tut me if I put my feet on the coffee table. I began to spend less time near the coffee table – and the house – while a perverse, missionary-style love blossomed between the two of them. I’d come home and they’d be hugging on the couch while a dinner of meat-and-three-veg was cooking away in the oven. It smelt lovely but the whole thing was as icky as her taste in blankets. When this twenty one year old started hosting Tupperware parties and asked me to make sure I was out of the house when her guests arrived I decided to look elsewhere for lodging arrangements. But I don’t call her Tupperware Mary because she hosted Tupperware parties, I call her Tupperware Mary because I had made myself a pancake breakfast one Saturday and then afterwards walked down to the dairy to grab some milk. When I got back, there was a little note beside my dishes that read,
Could you please not use wooden spoons to mix stuff in my Tupperware bowls, thanks, Mary
To this day, I still have no idea why I couldn’t use a wooden spoon to mix in a Tupperware bowl. I never asked – perhaps I enjoy the mystery. I felt like I was living with my parents after all this so I packed up my cat and my shoes and as I left I saw a sorrowful Bengal tiger that I knew would rather be extinct than draped decoratively over an accountant’s couch.
The Other Baking Incident
I was living with three girls in a fancy house in a nice neighbourhood and we got along great, so I temper this story with that disclaimer. I was baking a cake for work and was midway through a batch of icing when my lazy flatmate moseyed on down the stairs to make tea and my life miserable. She watches me mix the ingredients, wherein I add a pinch of salt. She tells me she doesn’t like salt. I laugh because that is stupid. Everybody likes salt – it’s in everything for a start – and it makes food taste better. Ever eaten a salt-less egg? Exactly. Ever enjoyed bacon? Cheese? Literally anything in a packet, ever? A dip in the ocean? Fuck me, everyone likes salt. But she doesn’t like salt. I am perplexed, because she has never cooked, how could she possibly know what she likes and doesn’t like? I ask her why. She tells me she, “eats a lot of processed food.” I have no words. Well I do, but I can’t say them. I’m struggling concurrently with the idea that she eats more salt than a fully grown blue-whale while seemingly disliking it – remarkable – and the ugly turn my poor icing has taken now being beaten to within an inch of its life. I don’t want to engage anymore in this line of conversation. She tells me her birthday’s coming up and I should make her some cake. I ask her what her favourite flavour is. She tells me it’s salted caramel. I die.
When I am resurrected, I ask her why she can like salted caramel but not like salt. She tells me it’s because the salt makes it chewy. Sorry? The salt makes it chewy. It makes it chewy? Yeah, she doesn’t know how but it’s great.
I tell her I’ll need to get on the blower to Science Inc. and let them know this information that defies all rudimentary logic and real-world experience.
By the time I arrive at work the next day, I have worked myself up into a state of frenzy and my long-suffering workmates have to listen to my salted caramel meltdown. But because they like me they agree with me that salt doesn’t make caramel chewy and placate me like the sensitive snowflake that I am so I am able to calm myself. Not long after, another colleague comes in who’d had a birthday dinner the night before. I ask her what she ate. “Salted caramel ice cream and apple pie.” And that’s when I slid out of my chair onto the ground and just lay there in a heap on the floor. Because life is made up of small moments of arguments about salted caramel, and absolutely not about the other stuff.
I don’t need to spend any time justifying why I hate the Irish as a collective people because I woke up one morning and one of my Irish flatmates had taken a shit in the bathtub and just left it there, like a soft, brown present for the next person who needed to use the bathroom. I lived with three Irishmen for six months who seemed nice at first although I never knew if they were or not because I couldn’t understand a fucking word they said. I even asked them if they understood me because I wanted to see if it worked both ways but they assured me that yes, they understood me perfectly so it was just they who sounded like a muffler-less exhaust pipe when they spoke. There was one particular time I had to wake up at 5am for a road trip to the coast and lucky for me they had a party the night before (which was a Tuesday) where they did typical Irish shit like swilling cheap, nasty beer and singing shanties while they banged their feet on the ground (I’m told this is a ‘jig’) until 4am. I didn’t sleep and I got out of bed an hour later and swam through a sea of Kiwi Lager to get out the house.
They also cooked a lot of potatoes and fish. That doesn’t have anything to do with the story I just think it speaks to the stereotype.
There were warning signs about this flat from the get-go that I ignored because I needed a place really badly. When she opened the door my first thought was that this was one of those, ‘lesbian freegan’ types of deals where I would have to be cool with scissoring and a lot of copies of The Listener lying around but it was just how Kelly always dressed. A beanie with a cap, a plaid shirt with a puffer vest over the top and sandals with socks. Also a few missing teeth and possibly mild autism. The two other flatmates I was introduced to ended up moving out days later telling me that she was a crazy bitch and I spent my first night cleaning out glass from the bottom of the refrigerator that had been there since Moses. So we had a bumpy start. She had a cat called Pippin who was half feline half demon and sporadic other cats, kittens and even a dog would appear and disappear with no explanation as to where they came from or where they went. Her door was constantly welcoming to any sort of man and I saw at least fifteen of what she called ‘boyfriends’ come and go but now am fairly certain she was charging for her company.
She was on the dole and would spend beautiful summer days in her room with the curtains closed on her computer presumably searching for Indian boyfriends if the persuasion of her clientele was anything to go by. A strange man crept up behind me while I was in the kitchen one night and whispered in my ear, “Did you order pizza?” Thankfully – it wasn’t a euphemism and he was holding a pizza but I was still about to connect a frying pan with his head before Kelly came in and introduced me to her new boyfriend – “he works for Pizza Hut!”, but I never saw him or his pizza after that. She and I had an odd relationship, I felt sorry for her and tried to be as nice as I could while keeping some healthy boundaries in place, because she had both a crush on me and a deep, deep desire to cut off my skin and wear it like a latex bodysuit. I eventually put a lock on my door because I was certain she wanted to dress up in my clothes and roll herself in my duvet like a little unemployed sausage roll and just live there.
One night I went to the toilet in the dark and half asleep and when I walked out of the bathroom she was standing there, holding and stroking her demon cat and looked me square in the eye and said, “The spirits don’t want us here.” I walked straight back to my bedroom, bolted that lock and slept – more cautious of her in the next room than any spirits.
It all ended terribly as could be expected. I came home on Boxing Day to find all three of my flatmates had moved out without telling me. They hadn’t collectively decided to do this, they just all hated it. Kelly had run off with the flat account money plus two weeks of my rent. She didn’t respond to my texts or calls and so I sat in the hallway and had a bit of a cry before I remembered the saying, ‘if you lend someone a hundy bucks and you never see that person again, it was probably worth it.’ And that’s how I like to think about all my ex-flatmates.
About The Author:
Under the guise of a fictional bitch, this bitch bitches about other bitches.