Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All My Neighbours: At the Grey Yonder

The Grey Yonder – where I lived for a year between 1994 and 1995 – was a three storey slum packed with students. Each floor had the same configuration – five rooms, common area/kitchen, two bathrooms – and the landlords were…well, pretty much absent. It seemed customary for tenants to skip out on their rent, and also customary for the landlords to have a blasé attitude toward fixing things (ie, never actually doing so).

Of the five of us on my floor (the top one), some were friends so I won’t talk about them. But our most notable top-floor roommates were R. and C.

R. was a good-hearted guy, but he definitely lived in his own world. A raver to the core of his bony little body, R. had arrived somewhat damaged by his experiences growing up in the Yukon…not the ideal place for organizing a youth gang, apparently, though there was lots of room for skateboarding.

The first thing he did when he arrived was to spray his gang’s tag on his bedroom wall. He assured us that he’d take adequate precautions, but as the hours wore on and the smell got worse we began to fear for R.’s brain cells. He finally came crashing out of his room, eyes bigger and crazier than usual, covered head-to-toe in pink dust and confessing that he didn’t feel good. It turns out that his precaution of opening his bedroom window for ventilation was defeated by his ignorance of “storm windows"...his fan was blowing at the tightly-sealed SECOND pane of glass, which he didn’t realize was there. R. got very ill and his room was tinted pink.

Other than insatiable hunger for those “people falling off of skateboards” videos, R. was a sweet guy and a considerate roommate. But then his older brother started spending nights in apartment, then spending weekends, until finally we discovered that he had a new (non-paying) tenant sleeping in the common area. He stayed until R. finally moved out a few months later.

Nunich – the most gregarious of our legitimate roommates – dubbed him “Polkaroo” for reasons that I don’t remember, but I DO remember that he was a creepy guy. You’d get up early in the morning and find this scruffy man in this early 30s sleeping in the kitchen. He’d hobble around on his cane and stare lasciviously at females. He brought an element of sexual tension into our already unstable world.

Our other roommate – C. – was the QUEEN of sex. She had an assembly-line of simultaneous lovers who would enter through one bedroom door and leave through the other. While waiting for sex, her lovers sat in the common area and intimidated us. Nunich called them “LoveCo” and gave us this early-morning anecdote:
NUNICH: (Making breakfast) Good morning.
LOVECO: (Farts)
NUNICH: Oh (Continues making breakfast)
LOVECO: (Farts again)
NUNICH: Would you please stop doing that?
LOVECO: Do you mind? It’s just a butt.
C. bought a rabbit because she thought it would be cute. The rabbit peed all over her carpet and ate her furniture. One night we were playing cards in the common area when we heard two loud thumps from her room. C. wandered out, wearing a nightgown and holding a belt, and simply said “I have killed the bunny.” She became known as “The Bunnykiller” and relations with her broke down after that.

The divider between my bedroom and hers was just a piece of drywall, so I became an unwilling audience to her sexual exploits. She would howl and – occasionally – actually bark like a dog. One of her boyfriends got wind of her revolving-door approach to sex and – at 1am – started beating her as she screamed “Help! He’s killing me! Help!” Nunich and I huddled in my room and listened, knowing that if we called the police she’d just deny everything and hate us forever. The next morning – covered with bruises – she sat in the kitchen and moaned about her beastly boyfriend, but later that day we heard her showing her “trophies” to one of her girlfriends, and bragging that this incident proved how much he loved her.

We had so much excitement on our own floor that we rarely paid attention to the people below us, but one of the notable neighbours on the first floor was "J." His nickname – as displayed on an illuminated sign in his bedroom window – was “Hot Johnny Five-Star.” When he bought a new bed we put his old one in the common area (so Polkaroo and LoveCo could sleep on it). We were delighted – but not at all surprised – to discover honest-to-goodness notches in his bedpost.


Anonymous said...

Whoa. I've had some kooky roommates, but... yeah.

I am speechless. :D

writer for hire said...

blimey o'reilly - that's some houseshare scenario Muffy

sitcom in the offing?

Anonymous said...

Remind me to tell you some time about my rabidly alcoholic Argentinian ex-roommate who got me kicked out of a strip bar and routinely urinated in the corner in his room...which was RIGHT NEXT TO THE BATHROOM.

Adam Thornton said...

I think McMonkey wins!

Yes, it was a tense environment, and yet somehow we all managed to "get along." People were crazy -- and so was the environment -- but none of us actually FREAKED OUT on the others (until the Bunny was killed).

Caveat: *I* was away at work the night she killed the bunny, but for the sake of keeping the story simple I used the word "we." I heard about it that morning.