Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Story of Crazy - Roomates, Round One

Me and Mickey. This was during the happy times J and I lived together

I don’t think I’ve met anyone who hasn’t had at least one crazy roommate. I may not have had very many, but I am certainly no stranger to the crazy.

In 1993, I moved out for the first time. I had started a new job at Disneyland, and since a friend of mine needed someone to live with, we moved into a little apartment together near the park. He was one of my best friends at the time, and I was acting like a little mother – because that’s what I did. I was also extremely naïve. I was barely 20, and had lived a fairly sheltered life. I trusted WAY too easily. J was a lady's man. He loved the ladies and he did anything he could to get in their pants. He was also a con artist. I still truly believe that we were very good friends and that for a time, he considered me family. But at some point, our relationship became something else entirely. We weren’t dating. We weren’t even sleeping in the same room. But I had a crush on him that made me cry on a regular basis. I would write lists of things that we “needed” to talk about, and usually the last thing on the list was about “us.” I think it all started out with me being the crazy one.

At first we had so much fun, being out on our own for the first time. We watched TV, had his family over to use the pool (which we got kicked out of because there were too many people), went to Disneyland, and had our mutual friends over. All the craziness that happened at our apartment would make another story entirely.

As time quickly wore on, J had a very hard time holding down his job. I had bought him a car so he could get out and do this. It was some sort of door-to-door salesperson job. He was free to decide on his schedule and then make his own appointments. Pretty soon, he would disappear for entire afternoons. He told me he got paid once a month, but only when he made a sale. I only saw one, very small, paycheck. So, I was supporting us. I thought he was leaving every day to go to work. I was wrong. We played, we ran up my credit cards (which up until then, I had been marvelous at keeping track of and paying on time), and did whatever we wanted to… well he did. He pretty much told me what I could and couldn’t do and who I could have over and who I couldn’t have over. I tried to win his favor by buying him everything he wanted. This included an amazing car stereo, a gold necklace, and a tattoo or two. But then I began to notice strange and large amounts of money missing from my accounts.

About two months into this mess, he stopped going to work. I didn’t really realize this, as I was at work myself. He came by a couple of times to see me at work, for which I was always glad. One time, he ran into one of my coworkers while looking for me. He told me she would be his. They went out later that week. She moved in with us the next day. Suddenly, there was a mattress in our living room. We had two TV’s there and they were both on 24/7. She would eat, but she would wouldn’t clean because of her “sensitive skin.” When she wasn’t at work, they were laying around sleeping or having sex, in the LIVING ROOM.

It was about this time that the money ran out. When I went to buy a personal safe. I felt in my gut that things of mine may be in danger of disappearing. I should have listened to my gut feeling. That's when my last card was declined, I went home and took two boxes of diet pills. This did nothing but make me sick for three days. Neither J nor his girlfriend cared. Things got really weird at this point.

I was happy that one of our friends who was a Marine had set me up with one of his buddies, and I saw him a couple of times. Unfortunately, I also “got” something from him. Meanwhile J had been freaking out on us. He took his girlfriend’s car to Northern California to visit some old friends of his. Apparently, he ran her manual transmission into the ground and also found some girls up there, too. When he came back, he and his very large knife took a nice rip out of my favorite Mickey Mouse poster which I had on the door to my room. At the same time, I looked so thin and unhealthy every time I visited my parents that they started giving me food which I hoarded in my closet with my bedroom door locked.

One night I came home from work, and found that my bedroom had been broken into, my food taken, and a few things ransacked. A contract that J and I had signed was gone. It had been written before we moved in together and stated that he would pay me back the $800 that I lent him to buy his car. Because of this, we ended up getting into an argument and he hit me over the head with a beer bottle. The beer, I assume, he got from my closet where I had been saving it for the weekend. I found out later that once he had gotten into my room, he coerced a friend into telling him where the contract was hidden. Once he found it, he burned it.

A few days later I needed to go see my Mom about a delicate situation which involved the aforementioned Marine. It was a Monday night which I remember because we had to wait for the football game to end and Dad to go to bed before we could talk. Dad asked me how things were going and I talked to him about how J had hit me with that beer bottle. We didn't really talk about anything that was important after that. Mom helped me out with my issue and I went on my way. We no longer had a phone, because we couldn’t afford to pay the bill, but I did still have a pager. It went off wildly the following day. It was my dad. He told me that I would need to be ready to get my stuff and get out on Saturday morning.

Friday night, I cleaned everything up and began packing. Luckily, J and his girlfriend were out until about 2 in the morning. They didn’t even really notice that something weird was going on. I packed up as much as I could before passing out because I was so tired. The next morning, Dad's page came bright and early. He was on his way with the son of one of his customers and a friend of his. They had both been released from prison recently and were raring to go. They brought a couple of huge vans and all three stalked into the apartment. One of the guys went over and opened the curtains in the living room near where J and his girlfriend were sleeping and yelled “rise and shine!” J was furious until he was told to sit down and shut up which scared the crap out of him.

Dad and his friends tried to take everything they could of mine, but I’m sure there were some things left behind. I just didn’t have a chance to pack everything up. I moved back into my parents’ house, but I was still terrified of J. The next time I saw him was on a Friday night, when I got paid. He waited at the top of the tunnel that led to the parking lot until I got off work. He said something to my co-workers to make them go away, and when they did he demanded my paycheck. He felt that since I'd run out on them I owed them my check for the rent money. I told him no, and ran to my car in the parking lot. He yelled out a bunch of threats! I drove around the corner to call my parents to let them know. They slept through the call.

J didn’t come around any more after that His girlfriend had not spoken to me since I had moved out, but after a while started showing up at small get-togethers with our mutual friends. I learned that after the whole fiasco, they left the apartment in the middle of the night, losing a few things in the rush – such as his floor length leather coat. Then she met a Marine from the same squadron as our friend. She came to work one day married to the marine and then she abruptly disappeared. J also disappeared. I ran into him a while later, after I had gone through bankruptcy to pay for all the credit card bills we ran up.

When he had been out on his “job,” he was tempted by a customer to use speed. That was all it took. He ended up going to this guy’s house every day and doing drugs. A lot of my money went toward paying for that. This explained a lot of things that hadn’t really phased me before, such as why the TVs were constantly on, why J was awake all night watching them, why he had such a bad smell, why he never ate, stuff like that. When he explained these things to me, he also apologized profusely to me for getting me involved in this and taking advantage of me. After that night, it would be almost ten years before I’d see him again. And at that time, that was alright with me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

This Story Does Not Have a Happy Ending

It was right before Christmas 2001. I was on my way to the freeway from work when I saw the kitten run out into the street. It was hit by a car. At first I didn’t realize what it was. I thought something had blown out in to the street. It wasn’t until I closer that I realized it was lumpy! It didn’t look too bad, so I pulled over to the side of the road.

It took me a minute before I could run out into the center of the street. It was rush hour before a holiday on a busy street, after all. It was moving a little. Unfortunately, as I was parking and trying to get out into the street, poor little kitty had been run over a couple of times. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to get it out of the road.

I picked it up and ran back to where my car was. I could still feel it breathing, so I felt there had to be hope. For some reason, I still thought that after looking the little guy over. He was tiny, no bigger than the length of my forearm, and black and white. I could see his labored breathing in my hand. He was covered in blood, but I didn’t want to move him around too much to find out where it was from. I grabbed a jacket out of my car and put it down on the trunk, and put the little guy on it.

I looked him over a little and realized that he may be in worse shape than I thought. He was pretty flat in areas, and very floppy. But amazingly, that wasn’t what caught my eye the most. One of his eyes was ok looking, and kept staring at me, no matter where I moved. But the other eye, well, let’s just say it wasn’t IN his head. It wasn’t gone, it was still attached, but no longer in the socket. That kind of creeped me out. But I soldiered on.

Now that I picked this poor injured cat out of the middle of the road, what in the world was I going to do with it? I had my cell phone, but because I didn’t know what to do, I did what anyone else would do. I called work. They have computers there, right? Plus, at the time, I worked for an animal magazine. Someone there should know what I should do! I got one of the sales people from Dog Fancy, Gene. He’s a very nice man with a DJ voice. I was hysterically crying at this point, because I not only felt bad for the kitty, but I was so frustrated with myself for not knowing the area that I had worked in for the last two years. He couldn’t think of much except to call the Humane Society or the city animal control, and he tried his best to calm me down. He didn’t have either number, and had to go because there were other calls coming in.

I ended up calling Information to get connected to animal control. I got connected, and surprisingly, someone was there. It was after five on a holiday weekend, after all. I can only imagine how crazy I looked, flailing my arms while on my cell phone, parked in the driveway of the parking lot and yelling into the phone like a loon while covered in blood from this poor kitty! I finally nailed down when they would be able to come out. But I wasn’t sure I could wait for them to show up, so I told the person on the phone that I would lay the kitty down in the grass next to the driveway. They agreed that would be fine.

I decided I had to wait. I couldn’t leave the poor little kitty alone. It was getting chilly and it was the holidays, after all, I wasn’t heartless. I waited with kitty and held him while he took his last shuddering breaths. I hope he went in peace. That started me crying all over again. And then the animal control truck arrived, it only took a few minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. The lady got out of the truck and took out a giant shovel. I told her that the kitty had passed before she got there. She understood and had me place the kitty on the ground, she picked him up with the shovel and put him into the back of the truck. She told me to have a Merry Christmas, got into her truck and drove away.

I did not feel right, but there was nothing I could do except go home. So, off I drove, sobbing all the way.

Photo credit: Pick Your Clan