San Francisco has recently managed to surpass New York as the most expensive city to rent. So, naturally, it is very common to live with roommates well into your 40s and beyond. San Francisco being the hub of tolerance and creativity that it is, attracts a colorful array of people. Some of these folks may, to some, appear to be somewhat eccentric. So, naturally, some extraordinary stories of cohabitation arise.
Something curious is in the freezer
One story came to me from a passenger I picked up in the beautiful Twin Peaks area of the city. She was a bit frazzled as the apartment hunt in SF can drive anyone a little bonkers. She spoke with me about the urgency she felt around moving out of her current place. Her roommate was threatening her! That must be very unsettling, to say the least. Another thing that is unsettling is some information that her long-time neighbor shared. Apparently, this woman went around collecting dead animals from the side of the road and saved them in the freezer in the garage. Her favorite animals to collect were dead cats. There’s no telling how many dead cats are being memorialized in this local woman’s garage freezer. However, I can confidently say that I do not want to know.
An infestation in Brooklyn
By all means, the best roommate horror story comes to me from a good friend of mine for whom I am dedicating this article. Peter and his former boyfriend used to live a few doors down from me in the grimy-wasteland-since-turned-hipster-paradise known as Bushwick (or East Williamsburg, or Morgantown…) Their place was one of the absolute worse, ever!! I remember when they finally moved and how happy I was for them. Soon after their move we found ourselves passing by the old place and seeing a group of college-aged students waiting to view the apartment. Peter’s boyfriend at the time hesitantly approached them and let loose. It was like you opened a fire hydrant of misery. He said, “move into this lovely apartment if you would like to live among a rat, cockroach, and possible bed bug infestation. Also, if you like living next to a scenic cement factory that runs at all hours of the night. Lastly, if you want a landlord who ‘charges market value’ and does not return phone calls.” Is your blood boiling yet?
Better conditions in San Francisco?
The couple soon moved to lovely San Francisco where they found a rent controlled room in Lower Haight. With many rent controlled situations, the apartment came with its token 60-something-year-old, partially employed, partially depressed, partially dressed resident. This person would sit in his room, surrounded by half-eaten microwavable dinners, practically glued to the flashing colors of reality television. However, this man was not the crux of the story as he mostly kept to himself.
Peter and his then-partner had one more roommate who kept strange hours. He was a friendly guy but like their other roommate, they did not see him very much. He would often leave his door open. It was quite the site. He had no furniture except for a beat up, stained futon mattress and a few hangers. His clothing was scattered in a frantic mess all over the floor.
Fast forward a few months after they moved in: Peter’s grandmother passed away. He flew out East for the services and received a very small inheritance, of which included a very nice dresser. He approached his messy roommate, with the best of intent, and offered him his childhood dresser since he now had a nicer piece of furniture that he inherited from his grandmother. His roommate was very grateful and accepted Peter’s generous offer. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that wasn’t the case here. He soon cleaned up his room and made great use of the dresser.
Where did my underwear go?
As the busy weeks went on, Peter noticed that he was running out of underwear. For a while, he beat himself up for not being diligent in doing his laundry but he had so few pairs of underwear left, something smelled fishy. One afternoon, on the way to the bathroom, he glanced through the crack of his roommate’s door and saw a pink pair of American Apparel briefs, too similar to the ones gone missing. With great reluctance, he entered the slightly more tidy jungle that was his roommate’s space. He was almost positive that these underwear were his! He scanned the room and his glance landed on the dresser he gifted to this person. He approached the dresser and opened the draws, one by one. He was surprised to have found seven pairs of his underwear, neatly folded, and laid out in the draw of this dresser. What was even more surprising to Peter is what else he found. Upon further investigation, every pair of underwear had a giant skidmark. Yes folks, big brown stains!
Underwear is not cheap, as you know. Beyond the cost was the outright violation of privacy! Peter was generous and felt betrayed. What eclipsed the feelings of betrayal, by all means, were the feelings of “what the fuck!!”
That night, Peter approached his roommate and said, “Hey dude, I went in your room and noticed that you’ve been stealing and pooping in my underwear! What the heck!!” In response, the man was dumbfounded, surprised and speechless. With a monumental feeling of embarrassment, he apologized. Unfortunately, in this case, you could not teach an underwear-stealing-dog-with-bad-house-training-habits, new tricks. Only a few days later he was back at it. Peter soon moved out.
Living with people in San Francisco, or anywhere, can be the best or worst of situations. We see what happens when its bad. But, the term “chosen family” is common here. I was recently at a beautiful apartment in Castro Hills where they live in unison. That’s also the feeling with my current situation. Roommates can become the closest friends you could ever have. I actually prefer to live with others.
However, anyone that has ever had roommates has horror stories. What was your last roommate horror story?