Welcome to Thatz Not Okay, a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions (max: 200 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."
I live with two roommates and we have one bathroom. Recently, my roommate "Dick" has been getting serious about his new girlfriend and has been acting like Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch. I digress. After getting home from walking HIS DOG on a Sunday morning, I really needed the bathroom. But since he and his girlfriend were showering together for over an hour, I had to go to a cafe two blocks away in order to relieve myself. When I tried to talk to him about it the next day, he acted like I was an uptight killjoy and said he was being "patient and tolerant" listening to me. Things have been rather tense on the home front since then. I think it’s a valid roommate request that prolonged couples showers are restricted to non-prime times for the bathroom. Is that okay?
Never mind that he was in the shower during the shower power hour (Sunday morning). Never mind that he was in there with his new girlfriend. Never mind that, while he was in the shower, you were out doing him a favor. If you share a bathroom with someone, YOU CANNOT SPEND AN HOUR IN THAT SHARED BATHROOM. Imagine the chaos of the Brady household!
Another thing you cannot do in a shared bathroom is have sex. (Imagine the chaos of the Brady household!) That’s sort of implicit in any roommate deal: “Do you own dishes and do not have sex in any shared spaces.”
Plus, who would want to have sex in some filthy shared shower next to a soap-scummed map-of-the-world shower curtain and someone else’s razor dangling from the caddy? You may be a dirty, nasty freak who needs to wash away your sexy sins, but you deserve ROMANCE.
As many amateur comedians will tell you on open mic night, shower sex is taxing, freezing, thankless work that is ultimately not worth the effort. Are we trying to get clean here? Great well my shower order is full body rinse, apply shampoo, wash face, rinse shampoo and face, apply conditioner, wash body, rinse conditioner and body, briefly rinse hair in ice cold water because I read in Seventeen that it makes it shiny. I hope your shower routine aligns EXACTLY, or one of us is going to be left feeling out of sorts. Are we just here to copulate under a tepid homemade waterfall your landlord installed next to your toilet? You were right – it is almost like being in Fiji.
As for your roommate's conflict-resolution style: a good rule of thumb is that you shouldn't have to tell people you’re being tolerant. If you are being tolerant, that will be evident to them. If you have to explicitly tell someone “I’M BEING TOLERANT,” what you are actually saying is “I am not being tolerant.” Your tolerance (and patience) is indicated by your statements and actions. A person who says "Now, I'm patient and tolerant, but it really steams my clams when Mexicans take forever in the grocery line!" is neither.
One thing about your version of events that throws me: How could they have stayed in the shower for an hour without the hot water running out? Do you live in a hotel? Are you eccentric hotel moguls who insist on living in a shared suite in one of your properties, even though you have a whole hotel of rooms to live in (and bathrooms to fuck in)? Maybe they weren’t running the shower the whole time. Maybe they were hiding out in the locked bathroom because they’re terrified of your dated pop-culture references.
My roommate is acting like Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch!
My roommate has been getting all BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN with his girlfriend in the shower.
I feel like my roommate feels about me how Kanye West said George W. Bush feels about black people, which is that he doesn’t care about them.
“Weeds” is a brand new show that I like.
Since it’s a new girlfriend, you could take comfort in the fact that this duo probably won’t be cavorting in the shower like satyrs in a fountain for much longer; in a few months they'll be locking themselves in the bathroom to have arguments; to sit shoulder-to-shoulder in the bathtub texting in silence; to cheat on one another. But my advice is, as soon as you are able, to stop living with an asshole who treats reasonable requests like hurtful impositions. Even a nice place can feel like a jail cell if you hate one of your roommates. And lots of people who are looking for roommates are not inconsiderate shower sex fiends.
(You could also just pee in his coffee cup next time but coffee cups do not hold as much pee as you think they will.)
My sister and I have similar taste in books, so we're always lending them back and forth. I always treat her books with respect and return them in good condition, but she doesn't have the same consideration for my books. I have books on my shelf that I've had for a decade and have read a dozen times, that are in better condition than the ones she returns after reading once. The last two “Song of Ice and Fire” books I lent her, less than a year old, look like they've been through a war, and the spines are so cracked that they don't really fit back into the box set anymore (without a lot of persuasion). I'm going to be getting “A Dance With Dragons” as soon as it hits paperback, and I'm sure she'll want to borrow it, but I want to let her know that I want it back in reasonable condition. Is that okay?
But only because she’s your sister.
First off: A guy who’s who's super-finicky about the condition of his boxed set of fantasy novels? How do you even find time to read in between all the ass you must be getting?
Now that have adequately shamed the elephant in the room (That elephant's family doesn't even have cable! Only PBS! It's poor!), we can talk like grown-ups.
However, while Max Read’s college years consisted of waking up in a succession of pizza boxes and being roommates with Barack Obama, (I guess—did not read the post!), the books he lends out are in pristine condition. The one I borrowed looked like it had never been opened. I briefly wondered whether he might have bought this book simply for the joy of lending it out, but he seemed to have too strong a grasp of the plot for that to have been the case.
Over the next couple weeks, as I read the book, I realized, to my horror, that it was undergoing a subtle transformation while in my care. The corners of the pages were turning dull. The formerly stiff front and back covers were becoming notably more pliable. The bright scarlet of the jacket was also turning a sort of dirty mottled gray, as if I had rubbed it with pencil led. Except when I erased it it didn’t come off? And I hadn’t carried this book anywhere pocketbook, which has no pencils in it?! SO HOW WAS THE BOOK SUDDENLY COVERD IN PENCIL LEAD? (Also I worried that it was taking me too long to read the book and that Max would think I was a slow reader, even though I'm not, I'm really fast.)
I considered giving back the novel before I’d finished reading it, just so it could return to the safe haven of Max’s apartment (I guess he lives in a Barnes & Noble where every book is brand new?), rather than incur further destruction at my hands (which are giant, misshapen bear paws made of knives). Then I worried that I wouldn’t be able to discuss the book if he asked about it. I also considered buying him a new copy, but eventually decided a cheaper alternative would be to tell him I had considered buying him a new copy when I returned it, and then, gauging his reaction, buy a new copy as needed. But you know what he said when I gave it back?
“I wouldn’t lend out my books if I didn’t want them to come back looking like they’d been read!”
This is exactly the right attitude to have. If you want to make sure your books remain in immaculate condition when you lend them out, lend them out only to yourself, when you’re wearing gloves. You don’t have to let people borrow your books. Lots of folks don’t. But if you want to earn credit as the nice guy who lends out medieval sex books, you run the risk that those books will come back a mess. Dinged up. Ripped. Stained. Maybe they will even have changed properties and now exist as a gas that smells faintly of wood chips.
If you have books on your shelf that you’ve had for a decade and read a dozen times, you know a little something about book handling. You are reading these books, on average, once every 10 months. (THAT IS MIND-NUMBING. BUY A NEW BOOK.) A book is a paper product that, by its nature, is handled a lot. You can’t get mad if you lend someone a brand new $20 bill, fresh from the bank, and are repaid with a regular old wallet $20. You cannot demand a crisp Jackson.
You are obviously supremely invested in this series of sporadically erotic fantasy novels—and yet you wait a year to buy it so that you can save $10? Why not spring for the hardcover? You can get it earlier and it is durable enough to withstand even your high levels of persnickitude.
All that being said, siblings are not real humans. You can tell your sister it is IMPERATIVE that she return this book in good condition. (Book ruiners are terrible; she should not be ruining books.) You can tell her you’re never lending her a book again because she is a book’s worst nightmare. You can roll a 20-sided die that I know you have and tell her whether or not you’ll lend her the book is up to the Fates to determine. If you guys are close enough to book swap, your relationship will likely withstand this minor point of contention.
By the way, that inexplicable gray mottling that spread over the cover like a rash? I later found out it was part of the jacket design. Don't overlook the possibility that the books you lend out might be in better shape in your mind than in real life.