So while the shadows grew long and the light turned orange, red and gold outside the Lavender Lady, inside her walls finally held all my earthly possessions and most of my closest friends. Filled with satisfaction and surrounded by the physical manifestation of our labors – disassembled furniture and boxes – we sprawled eating pizza and drinking beer (which again is the traditional “thank-you-for-helping-me-move-house-even-though-we-are-past-the-point-in-our-lives-when-this-is-fun” fare). Feeling free and breezy under the influence of nostalgia (the beer helped) we reminisced about all the horrible hovels we resided in during our twenties, and the peculiar people we shared them with.
Here are the highlights:
Me (slowly picking off layers of pizza toppings): The guy who made up his own religion declaring the name Pete all powerful. Wednesdays were his sabbath and he wouldn’t do chores if he happened across the name on any day of the week. Meaning if someone said Pete, if he saw it in print (which was a problem since there was a giant billboard down the street advertising Pete’s Potato Chips) or a picture of a famous Pete popped up – he’d hunker down in his room to “worship”. Which entailed smoking a lot of weed and listening to jazz records featuring Pete Fountain. We never saw that security deposit back, a tornado couldn’t air out that room.
Sarah (a still mortified co-worker): My college roommate’s boyfriend decided to pee out the window one evening because Julie, his girlfriend, was taking too long in the bathroom….unfortunately someone was sitting next to the open window below and got a real surprise. They both fled when the shouting started – which left me to plead ignorance and then innocence by trying to demonstrate the leverage and physics required for me to perform said feat through a screen. Could have wrung their necks.
Beatrice (rolling her eyes at the memory): I roomed with a girl who loved my curls so much she snipped a few off one night while I slept. When I woke up and she was sitting at the kitchen table bobbing them up and down like some kind of demented fishing lure. Her defense? She only cut a couple off at the nape of my neck – not the really good ones around my face. Wasn’t that considerate? I can’t swear she didn’t made a voodoo doll from them when I moved at the end of the month, but I did sprain my ankle a week later…
Dourwood (laughing and poking me in the leg): I roomed with this girl who would get into constant arguments with the fridge, toaster, house plant, door…then would try to pass it off as “rehearsing lines” for her improve group!
I felt compelled to hit Wood in the shoulder at this point and everyone laughed (I was in an improv group…). With an air of dignity, “I no longer tread the boards.”
“Tread the boards! Ha! You just don’t want to admit you talk to yourself!” Wood laughed (as did everyone else, he easily avoiding my second punch). His phone buzzed. Looking at his watch he got to his feet and drained his beer, “Well I am off. Laney’s out front.” Getting to my feet I started to invite her in when Wood shook his head, “She can’t come in. Her Mom’s with her.”
When one person sets out, others usually follow and soon after our cozy pizza party broke up. When I’d seen the last of my friends out (I will not recount their giggled reminiscence of me doing “improv”, apparently I am caught talking to myself more than I knew) I shut my new front door. Smiling I turned and leaned against it, surveying my new living room (the upstairs of the Lavender Lady may be too stately to incorporate such an ordinary room, but the basement is not) when I spied a bit of macabre in the corner of the room…
A wood framed box with a glass front sat propped up against the wall at the end of a line of bookcases. I simply couldn’t believe my eyes, how did I miss him? He watched while I approached his box. While I scanned his bones nestled in the forest green lining, finally meeting his eye sockets – I blinked first.
Beatrice: “His name is Harold.”
Me: “Harold? Looks like he had a rough life.” All but five ribs were cracked, broken and/or splintered. His left eye socket was scored and broken. The rest of his bones sported a number of unusual nicks and gouges, which didn’t look organic in origin.
Beatrice (unsuccessfully in keeping a straight face): “I won him.”
Me (rolling me eyes): “Where? From where, eBuy? Did a test crash dummy get tired of a human stealing his job?”
Beatrice (laughing now): “No, a publisher raffled him during a convention, for a historical thriller – a find clue to the killer in the bones – sort of thing. Harold came with an advanced copy of the book.”
Me (still inspecting his many extra bits): “Harummph. So they really let you walk off with a real skeleton?”
Beatrice: “I liked him. I don’t think they expected anyone to really want to take him home – but they couldn’t really object when I did. Hey let me help you clean up.”
With that she walked down the hall towards my room, I followed my attention divided between Beatrice and the many parts of Harold.
Just this once I don’t think I am the weirdest roommate in the house.