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 email@example.com with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."
My roommate and his girlfriend like to pan sear scallops. It smells the house up for a week but he lives upstairs and has a limited sense of smell. My room is next to the kitchen. I would never deprive them of their scallops but the smell is unbearable to me. She lives alone and I think they should eat their pan-seared scallops there. I don’t want to be unreasonable, because my roommate and I have been friends for 20 years and live very well together. But I do want to ban them from making scallops in our home. Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
No kinda how, no kinda way should the scent of pan-seared scallops linger in your home for a week. Either your roommate and his girlfriend have no idea how to pan sear scallops, or they are cooking something much, much darker and telling you it’s scallops (Clumps of stolen human hair? Clumps of stolen human butts?) so you don’t alert the fuzz. The dining room at Red Lobster doesn’t even smell like scallops, and they cook scallops every day; the only place that sees a higher volume of daily scallops is the ocean, and even the ocean doesn't smell like scallops. It smells like summer romance and revenge.
So here's a question: How often do these fucking people eat scallops? Or, rather: How do these fucking people eat scallops so often? Scallops are expensive. They're a sea meat treat. Who is this person who cannot afford to live alone, yet dines on scallops so frequently that the aroma of their cooking has become an issue in your household? Who is this eccentric billionaire who lives every day like it’s Scallop Fest, but really needs your half of the utilities by Friday? Is your roommate an otter? What happened to impare his sense of smell? Did he sell his sense of smell to buy her unlimited scallops and did she trade her love of scallops to buy him a set of fine Yankee Candles and are they both just pretending this arrangement suits them to avoid hurt feelings? Did you mean to say "scallions," which are considerably cheaper to purchase and prepare?
You say you would “never” deprive your roommate and his girlfriend of their scallops, but what you mean is that you would never deprive your roommate and his girlfriend of their scallops if you didn’t mind them making them. But you do mind, which is why you're now seeking a way to deprive them. (Yes, they could make them at his girlfriend's place, but as it is beyond your power to ban them from making scallops in her home, neither do you get credit for allowing them to do so.) However, you are not the president of the apartment—for one thing, presidents are elected, and it sounds like the person with the greatest percentage of the popular vote in your apartment is scallops—so you can’t issue executive orders. As a roommate, you can ban things that are illegal or actively damaging your apartment. Since pan searing scallops is not illegal (Thanks, Obama), and the creation of a fading smell does not constitute irrevocable damage, a ban is beyond your rights. Living with noxious smells is part of living with a roommate.
Since it sounds like, apart from issues related to pectinid bivalve mollusks, you have an enviably good relationship with your roommate, you might very well find that, if you register your objections, he and his girlfriend will happily relocate their scalloperation to her stovetop. The key is to phrase it as a request ("Would you mind making them at Kristen's place next time?") rather than an order ("SCALLOPS ARE HEREBY BANNED FROM THESE PREMISES. ANYONE FOUND TO BE IN VIOLATION OF THIS EDICT SHALL RECEIVE A FINE OF 1,000 CLAMS, I.E. DOLLARS.")
When you make your request, keep your reasons for it limited to one complaint, for instance: "The smell makes me feel nauseous." Presenting your roommate with a litany of grievances ("The smell lingers," "You make them all the time," "I spend all day trying to put difficult-to-place foster children in secure, nurturing homes, AND I HATE SCALLOPS") will invite confrontation. Keep in mind that, while the rank, ever-present scallop smell has been irritating you for a long time, this request will come to him from seemingly out of the blue. He's not ignoring your complaints because he's never heard them.
By the way, the next time your home is plagued with cooking odors, sprinkle some ground cinnamon on a piece of tinfoil and pop it in the oven for a while. The smell will vanish within minutes. Your roommate will not thank you, but only because he will have no idea, because he has a limited sense of smell.
I recently spent 7 hours (1am-8am) sleeping outside in the cold for a Best Buy signing. If you're not familiar with how that works: doors open at 8am, fans must buy an album and get a wristband, and fans with wristbands return later on that evening to meet the artist. Luckily, one of my best friends agreed to go through this exhausting process with me. However, a different best friend did not want to sleep outside on the cold sidewalk with us (I don't blame him), yet he texted me at 7:30am before the store doors opened to see if he could cut me in the line. I didn't text back, because I didn't feel like explaining to him why cutting was wrong. Also, I didn't want to let him jump in front of 400 people after my other friend and I endured miserable conditions for our desirable spot. Is that okay?
First, we’ve got to deal with the elephant in the room, which is that “Best Friend” charm key chains come in sets of two for a reason: best friends exist in a 1:1 ratio. You don't get an unlimited number of best friends. You don’t get to build an army of best friends with sleeper cells hidden all over the country. Sex and the City is not a show about four best friends. It's a show about a woman named Carrie, her best friend Miranda, and two other women they know (plus the grandest dame in every scene: The City of New York!). Having more than one best friend is like having more than one best buy. Doesn’t make sense. Only one buy can be the best.
So, you slept outside for a Best Buy signing with your best friend, and then another friend of yours tried to reap the fruits of your labors at the last second. Good thing that person is not your best friend, because he sounds like a jerk.
You are absolutely correct that your friend had no business sailing to the front of the line. He knew this too, which is why he sent you a text requesting permission instead of just showing up.
You and your One True Best Friend were willing to risk hypothermia in order to meet Savage Garden (I don’t really know who Best Buy’s pulling in these days…Jet?). Him cutting line would be rude to you, because it implies that your time and possibly even your life (How cold was it? Was the Best Buy located in the middle of a desert? Are you willing to die for Savage Garden because until you heard their music, you never felt alive?) are worth less than his. It would be even ruder to everyone behind you – particularly the person somewhere near the end of the line who would have been the last person to get a wristband, had Johnny-come-lately not come early the next morning and stolen his spot.
While I don’t normally advocate leaving people hanging when a quick text will clear things up, your friend selfishly put you in an awkward position. He knew his request was absurd. The only way he was going to get a wristband was if you chickened out when forced to deny his request directly. He was banking on the fact no one likes to tell a friend "No." He was rooting for your nerve to fail.
On the other hand, you could have texted "Sure!" and let the folks in line tear him limb from limb for you. Then, at the funeral, you could step up to the mic and set the record straight: "Patrick was my best—I'm sorry—one of my friends."