If you think this post is going to be about Jameson, you are dead wrong. He was a performance artist with some kind of real day job at Columbia. He was quiet, respectful and a little bit funny, but never in a trying too hard kind of way. He paid rent on time. We were never BFF4E, but he was the exact kind of roommate you want when you post on craigslist, looking for a roommate.
Johnnie, however, was swiftly becoming a nightmare. I thought she just hated Frankie and his TV-hogging, puppeteering ways. But I think she just liked to rage against whatever machine was on the lease. As she had never put down a dime for security deposit purposes, and my parents were the guarantors, she did not get to participate in that magical apartment rite of passage. She then started paying rent and utilities five to ten days late. This was adorable. As a waitress, I was definitely not able to cover extra rent every month, but somehow I made it work. What pushed me to my limit was her behavior after she got a new boyfriend who was waiting tables at the Olive Garden in Times Square and DJing (I think mostly in his own apartment) as his passion. She would stay with him a lot, leaving her four cats (Four. Cats.) in our apartment with no one to clean their litter boxes. When I went to Florida to visit my own boyfriend (Panda Hint of the Day: Never engage in a long distance relationship. Especially with someone who lives with his parents in Florida.), one of our neighbors left a note on our door, complaining that the entire hall smelled like cat urine and stating that he or she was going to have to call the landlord. As we were not supposed to have pets and I was the only one on the lease, this was an issue.
But I still believed we could work something out. Jameson decided to get his own place (who could possibly blame him?), so there was a room opening up for my friend, Gigi, but rent was going to have to shake up a little bit. Mine and Johnnie’s were going to increase. She was also told cat fur would have to be swept up weekly (instead of never, as it had been in the past) and litter boxes were to be cleaned daily. A reasonable adult might have been upset by the rent change, but would probably already be doing the other two things if they had one cat, let alone four (Four. Cats.). And since she hadn’t been paying her rent in any sort of timely fashion anyway, she didn’t really have a leg to stand on.
So, two days go by and I don’t hear anything from her. I assume everything is fine and go about my days continuing to be my awesome self. That’s when I get a MySpace forward (dating this story immediately) from a fabulous friend. Apparently, Johnnie had send out her own MySpace message to everyone she knew in NYC looking for a new place immediately. She called herself responsible and stated that she cleaned up after her cats twice, daily. These were bold statements. Never thinking this could get back to me, she had planned to skip out on August rent that was due in 8 days.
Thanks to my fabulous friend, I printed out her MySpace message and stapled it to a note of my own, telling her that I was sorry she’d chosen to move out and that if she hadn’t picked a date, August 31st would be fine. She said she was sorry and that she’d written her message in anger, but didn’t want to leave. Then she told me she had squatter’s rights. Neither of those had their intended effect. She had to go.
Shortly after she moved out, I got an email from her stating that her new roommate had bedbugs and never told her. The new roommate had also spent Johnnie’s deposit and so had no money to return to her.
I don’t really have a thoughtful tagline for this story. I acted with grace and dignity at the time and felt really good about it. I also know that when I heard about her bedbug ordeal, I snickered to my friends, and felt really good about it. I guess I’ll just say, she was not the end of my roommate ordeals, but she certainly provided me with a lot of valuable life experience and a lot of good stories.