Parents are awfully fond of reminding their Millennial kids that when they were our age, a summer job paid for a year’s worth of college tuition, a can-do attitude and a firm handshake meant a lifetime of gainful employment, and “instant gratification” was just a euphemism for prematurely cumming one’s pants. I suppose it’s easy to chalk our behavior up to laziness and self-entitlement when your generation’s lifestyle included snorting blow off the back of the Sixteen Candles soundtrack while Ronald Reagan shoots hundred dollar bills out of a T-shirt cannon and John Candy wrestles the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders in a vat of unrefined Iraqi oil, but I digress. In 2016, the financial reality is that most of us can barely afford a package of gas station sushi, let alone live by ourselves. And while having roommates in college can be a fun, disgusting and rewarding experience, there are a few pitfalls to full-blown adult cohabitation that nobody warns you about.
Equality is a Myth
In theory, each and every Millennial is a special little snowflake whose dreams fuel the engine of progress and lubricate the gears of this great big Doomsday clock we call “America.” In practice, however, the only eight-letter word that strikes more fear and revulsion in the hearts of young professionals than “equality” is “P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T.” See, an egalitarian society is a spooky concept for some because it involves give and take; there isn’t a more perfect microcosm of this than a household with two or more unmarried, unrelated folks under thirty-five (incestuous newlyweds, you’re fine. I mean, not really, but you get my drift).
The dream of the big weekend Costco run where everybody shoulders an equal portion of the household expenses is about as laughable as your “Tinder for sewage workers” start-up. I know what you’re thinking: “but Booker, my besties and I are ironclad. Ain’t nothing going to come between The Wolfpack!” And to you I say, “who paid for toilet paper last?” Oh, you? What about the time before that? And the time before that? Whether they wait you out on purpose (dicks) or just don’t realize they’re doing it (morons), your roommates are going to leave you holding the bag more often than not.
“The Dream” is Dead
I lived in a house with five other people when I was in college. In 2011, we made a pact to drink so much liquor and beer that when we redeemed our empties at the end of the lease term, we would have enough to recoup the security deposit we would inevitably never get back. Did we do it? No, I’m asking, did we do it? I can’t remember; everything between 2010 and 2013 is a Seagram’s-soaked blur.
My larger point is to savor these moments because when you’re “adulting” (as much as it makes my fingertips bleed just typing that), there’s a steep drop off in shenanigans. Living with your friends is an exciting prospect until you realize just how badly the college bubble has burst. Whereas once you were all working towards a common goal—to get fucked up and stay fucked up—now you and your roomies will be lucky if you can all agree on a Netflix show to binge on. Once, you were a rag-tag group of codependents who enabled the shit out of each other; now, you’re just a bunch of working stiffs who never make it downtown because you’re live Tweeting a fungal toenail infection.
When you’re forced to share your space, you become hella territorial. It doesn’t matter whether you’re living with total strangers or your best friends since childhood; so much as a carelessly strewn sock has the potential to trigger World War PICK UP YOUR SHIT, HAYLEY! Household harmony is extremely hard to come by when you’re all coming from different philosophical backgrounds. Take me, for instance. To quote the late, great Dusty Rhodes, “I have wined and dined with kings and queens, and I’ve slept in alleys and dined on pork and beans” (skewing heavily towards the latter). Having shacked up with everybody from an ambassador’s daughter to the son of a mailman, I’ve learned that the only way to make sure your expectations are shattered is to even have them in the first place. And yet, the problem persists. The idea that you rule the roost and can impose your will by sheer force of personality is a great way to ensure your orange juice gets topped off with a floater of fresh piss each morning.
Idiosyncrasies Become Ammo
We value our loved ones’ special quirks, like the way Paige’s farts sound like they’re punctuated with question marks, or how Greg freestyle raps about washing the dishes. These are also the qualities that make us want to beat these people to death with a tube sock full of batteries when we have to live with them. We’re all just little turtles in a terrarium with nowhere to run and no place to hide when the shit goes down. Sure, ostensibly, you’ve got your own bedroom to retreat to when your roommate starts trimming his gooch hairs in the kitchen, but that’s when the resentment sets in and the real trouble starts. You’ve been forced from the communal living area by somebody’s obnoxious behavior—now what do you do? Talk it out? Stand up for yourself in earnest? Mmmm, fuck that. How ‘bout a heaping helping of passive aggression instead! This allows all your beefs to fester while you slip deeper and deeper into a George Costanza-esque state of paranoia and start scouring the carpet for errant toenail clippings just so you’ll feel justified in secretly using your roommate’s waterpik on your b-hole.