Sunday, November 23, 2003

I am not the better man.

letter edited first for anonymity, then for clarity

Dear Aral:

I got your package the other day. Thank you so much! You have no idea how much I needed that exact thing at that exact moment. It was a perfect cheer-me-up thing.

Christi Underdown and two of her friends (C. and N.) were in this weekend for the Duran Duran concert. We had a big brunch Saturday afterwards - me, Christi, C., N. and my upstairs neighbor J. and her boyfriend. You would have had a hoot with us. I put on a real spread - 4 cheese quiche, wheat toast with jam and goat cheese, pecans, walnuts, almonds; hot tea of many kinds, chocolate soy milk, cranberry grape juice, bananas, apples and fresh strawberries with whipped creme I made that morning. I also pulled a cherry pie out of the oven at the very end, but everyone was too stuffed to even try for it!

We all sat and talked and laughed for a couple of hours. Underdown and C. are in charge of a girl scout troop and they find the work surprisingly rewarding. J.'s boyfriend, who was here for the first time, turns out to be a freelance photographer, and that's interesting.

I was glad to have them all as guests, but the early afternoon party is slightly overshadowed by my roomie, who slams doors all morning and who has left his part of the dining room a huge mess. Even though it's he who is supposed to wash the dishes, he didn't do them all week - luckily my other roomie got up Saturday morning to help me. I don't even have enough silverware and plates at the beginning of the brunch for everyone, but we laugh it off, as the dish washer finishes before too long.

My other roomies leave some time during the brunch. They were invited, but didn't come, which is a shame. After J. and her boyfriend are gone, my overnight guests talk about how rude my one room mates was. What's up with him? Where did the room mates go?

I tell them about the current tension, and we're all a little giggly and it just gets ridiculous. He knew for over a month that I had guests coming, that I was throwing a brunch today. He deliberately made his bits of the house messier, but it bothered no one in the end. He's just sort of awful. N. asks what I do to someone who disrespects me so. I say there's nothing to be done, but while washing dishes, realize I'm really mad. I get an idea.

I have this really wide masking tape left over from painting my room, and I take it and run it , wall to wall, chest level across the last quarter of the dining room where roomie's pile o'crap is. Then I take a piece of paper and use a green glitter marker to write "This mess belongs to my room mate, who did not clean up even though he knew I had friends over" I hang the paper to the tape, so that it floats in mid-air over the mess.

N. and C. are giggling, and I'm a ham, so it goes farther.

I get out the ladder and a roll of paper towels and I grab a couple of thumbtacks off my cork board. Christi holds the paper towel roll while I take one end of it and tack it to the ceiling over the mess. Then the paper towels are hanging like a long streamer over the mess, draped twice for an elegant presentation.

Christi shakes her head. "Why?"

"Because I'm tired of his passive-aggressive shit." I say.

"So you're going to start your own?" she says, ever the voice of reason, and this makes me pause, but only for a second.

"This is funny." I say. "And it's all I've got left."

And it's true; it's all I've got left after two months of someone being snide to me and stressing me out in my home, which is always supposed to be my calm relaxing place. I just don't care anymore about his feelings, which is a horrible way to be. I'm tired of him always thinking he's *right* to be an ass to me.

I'm tired of being the better man, of walking away when he's rude. I'm tired of ignoring how he never gives me my phone messages, of how he's rude to my guests, how the dishes sit and everything else. All I've got left here is my sense of humor, juvenile and barbed as it is; and let's face it, I'm funnier than my roomies. A smart joke is ten times more effective than any shout, and an atom bomb compared to a fist.

The girls and I leave the house and have a decent hour or so of wandering in and out of shops up the way. I'm making friends with C. and N., who are nice enough, and I invite them to come back again and stay if they'd like to Christmas shop in Atlanta. After our outing we come back to my place to pack them up, but end up watching the Harry Potter trailer four of five times because Christi hasn't seen it yet. We pick apart the details and when they leave hug and then wrestle their luggage into Christi's trunk. Your package has come in the mail, and I'm excited.

I need the package, because when I get back into the house, roomie has left me a bizarre letter about how much he and the other room mate hate me. They think I'm the worst person ever. I'd like to say I don't care, but losing one of them as a friend does hurt; also, I can't believe the paper towels had such a powerful impact. Roomie acts as if I put a baseball bat to his computer. But no; it's just that I publicly mocked him.

I do feel a little bad about it. After I take a nap (cause friends make you need a nap after a while), Dust and I talk about comics but I find that I'm still shaking from the adrenaline of roomie telling me (via letter) that he thinks I'm a horrible person. Dust tells me I'm not, but my stomach is full of acid. Sara calls and asks if she can spend Thanksgiving with me and despite the fact that I'd planned a rather adult party, I can't say no to my sister. The holidays suddenly loom, huge and emotional.

There's only one thing to do; I watch your tape.

Kids in the Hall : Tour of Duty first because I've never seen it before (fingering Strawberry Shortcake!?!) and then the Chasing Amy extras. I love this stuff. I love Kevin Smith and this reminds me of before Ben-my-boy turned into an asshole. He looks like he's going to make out with Kev or Mewes at any second and he's got those fuck-me eyes. He even tries to hit on the ordinary-looking Criterion rep on one extra.

And then there's the movie commentary. I love this movie more than any other. Every time I see Chasing Amy, I catch something new. This time is no exception - the insights are wonderful, but it also makes me realize that the reason The Republican has bad hair is because he has the *exact* same hair and beard as Ben in Chasing Amy. It's 1996 hair, and The Republican's the kind of guy who would have seen this movie in 97, decided that was the haircut for him, and stuck with it FOREVER. It makes me laugh and miss him. Not that I can talk; far too often my hair sticks right off my head, and the short bangs incident of 1998 goes withoutexplanationn.

Things are horrible, Aral, sometimes. But also things are wonderful. I can't explain it very well. I guess that's life. Thank you for the tape, it meant a lot.


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