Thursday, September 15, 2016

Whoops! I See No Big Thirsty Today. How About If I Slip One In At the Deadline?

Picking up on a recent linked article about roommates...

Q: Do you have any contact with a college roommate? Is it weird?

least used BT graphic ever

PS: That's all I've got. I have one roommate who died shortly after college, and one who I see once a year because his family is from the same hometown as me, which was 2000 miles away from where we went to college. There's nothing interesting to add about that relationship. I should turn the TV on. Oh, this is Terry P.


  1. He wasn't a roommate, but he was a guy I hung out with a lot, in my fraternity. I had sex with him once. Twice. Three times, actually. After college, he ended up in prison. I wrote to him when I found out he was in there. We traded letters for a while. Then he kept sending me letters, asking me for money. I sent him some. He asked for more.

    Ick. It makes me sad to remember it. I hope he's well. Last time I refused him money, he said if I didn't hear from him, it was because he was back in prison, because I didn't send him more money. Poor guy. That was the only power he had left, to make me feel guilty. He was a beautiful guy, not terribly smart but sweet and funny and thoughtful. And that's what happened to him.

  2. I don't know if it's my advancing age or not - probably - but I had 3 roommates in college and I can barely remember the face of any of them.

    What I loved about the original linked article is the ramped up notion of how much that bunk mattered. Kids (truly, kids) have zero concept about what actually matters in this world, and I've always believed one of my main jobs is to shake them up a bit and make them understand that.

    But, back to my roommates? Well I remember one guy was pretty easy going about sharing his pot, and one wasn't.

  3. There's one of my former suitemates whom I see once a year, for one day. We live on opposite sides of the Atlantic, but she isn't far from my husband's family, so we're in the area every summer for a short visit. We usually have lunch or dinner, go to a museum or for a long walk, trade stories about our grown children, and complain about whatever happens to be bugging us. It's a good relationship—we see so little of each other in person that we don't get tired of each other, and we look forward to our brief visit all year.

    If that sounds sickeningly saccharine, too bad. We've been friends since freshman orientation and we're still glad of it.

    There's also a college boyfriend who emerged from oblivion a few years ago after 25 years of radio silence, but that's another story.

    1. Nothing very juicy, I'm sorry to report. We had parted on reasonably good terms, drifted apart as we each married other people and then moved to different places, and finally lost contact altogether—easy to do in those pre-email days.

      Fast-forward 25 years. I come home from work one evening to find a message from the guy on my answering machine. He was actually in town, trying to talk the math department at the local university into adopting a textbook that he and a couple of colleagues had just gotten published. Friend found out via Google that we were living there, and simply looked up our home phone in the local phone book. It was a slightly awkward but basically pleasant reunion, and we've all gotten together (including my husband; Friend is now divorced) on several occasions since.

      The postscript to the story is that our daughter ended up in a graduate program at the same university where Friend is. So when we go to visit her, we get to see him as well.

      The right kind of old college friends can be a pleasure and a blessing.

  4. I keep up with one roommate who also became a professor. As for the others, their therapists say that it's best not to contact me. Living with me can have a profound effect on others.

  5. I remember them all. Roommates, hallmates, band members, etc. I can take a virtual tour through the dorm, cafeteria, and other local hangouts and pick them out, name them, and in most cases remember their major.

    I've maintained contact with none.

  6. My college experience was a bit unconventional, so I spent a grand total of one semester in a dorm. My roommate and I got along because we had to, but we weren't friends and we didn't stay in touch.

  7. "Do you have any contact with a roommate?"

    Hahahaha yeah that's one way of putting it.

    We had coed dorms in my college. I got put in a room with this asshole of a guy. We hated each other. He was a business major, I was in liberal arts. He was an anal-retentive neat-freak, I was a bit haphazard. He was a sportsy, athletic guy and I was a bookwormy dork.

    We tried to transfer into other dorms, to no avail. There were simply no other spaces available. We eventually started learning to not be at each other's throats and function together. And we started talking a bit. One of us made a joke. Hey, look at that, we both love dark, sarcastic humor. We started getting dinner at the dining hall together, woah, we both like the same food? And we both read the same authors?

    The more and more we got to know each other, the more and more I realized he wasn't some dumb, jockey asshole, but that I had been closed-minded and he was actually a sublimely clever and incredibly compassionate young man.

    Started dating Junior year of undergrad and haven't looked back. We got engaged ages ago and now that we've both got stable income we've decided we're going to get married early next year.

    1. (Oh and we're moving out of our respective parents' homes into our own apartment this month. Yay, being able to afford a place to live for once!)

    2. I like this story. It has some parallels to my own: my spouse and I were co-workers who initially only tolerated each other. We recently celebrated our 25th year of contractual cohabitation, aka marriage.

    3. I like the story too. And living together for two years in college gave me faith we could live together successfully in other settings. We don't live far apart, but after graduating that physical separation was pretty hard.

  8. I saw one about eight years after college. When I was most of the way through grad school and he ... had never quite graduated, was working the same kind of dead-end job he'd done for spending money in college, living in the same kind of dumpy apartment he got after moving out of the dorms, smoking the same kind of pot, and making the same kind of plans that he'd never follow up on.

    He was a moderately able, but unexceptional thinker. He was modestly but unexceptionally creative. Fairly compassionate, easy going, liked groovy music and always ready to participate in the non-destructive kind of practical joke (and wryly congratulatory when caught in one himself).

    All around a nice guy, and it bothered me that he didn't seem to be making much of a life for himself.

    I had a best buddy down the hall who never quite graduated, too, but he slid into a IT job on campus, worked his way up that hierarchy to the level of sitting on campus-wide committees, bought a house in the fancy district of town and generally did very well indeed.

    I keep thinking that the roommate could have done something similar, but it never happened.

  9. I had at least a dozen college roommates. I'm sure I wasn't easy to live with, but neither were they, and the rooms were so tiny that our beds just a few feet apart. I kept in touch with two of them with whom I was friendly (one of whom moved out of our room to live with the other in another room), till the one got married and never spoke to us again. The other also married but didn't ditch me as a result. She is still my very good friend and we visit each other often. My other close friend from college is now a drug addict. I miss him a lot but can't have anything to do with him until he's clean, if that ever happens.

    Thankfully we didn't have co-ed dorm rooms back then. I would have hated living in such a tiny space with a random male stranger. It was bad enough living with a random female stranger in such close quarters - our beds were so close, we could reach out and touch each other while sleeping. However getting dressed and undressed in front of a random female stranger is less awkward for me than doing so in front of a random male stranger. Call me old-fashioned.

    It's funny to think of all those "girl in shower" and "boy in shower" signs we used to hang on the bathroom doors to alert the other residents that someone's boyfriend or girlfriend was showering in a bathroom on a floor for the opposite sex. With co-ed dorms, those signs seem so quaint and old-fashioned.

    Enrollment has since quadrupled and the same dormitory that once housed all resident students, and was often half-empty, is now only for freshmen.

    1. We had coed dorms and coed floors, too—this was in the early to mid-70s. Most of the rooms were singles, but the multi-person suites were always same-sex. (Officially, that is. There was a certain amount of unofficial swapping going on.) The bathrooms were also coed, but since everyone always wore their bathrobes anyway, it didn't really matter much.

      I agree with Patty that, while the mixed dorms were great, I wouldn't have wanted to share an actual bedroom with a random guy. Sounds like Annie's deal worked out pretty well in the end, though.

  10. I visited my alma mater last year during the summer. The schoold had used great gobs of state tax money and student loan profits to build so many new buildings that I could barely find my way around campus. My freshman dorm was open so I took a stroll through. The furniture, walls, everything was exactly the same. I'm sure they've repainted and replaced the carpet but they redid everything exactly as it was. Kind of weird, given the suites, private bathrooms, kitchenettes, etc. in all the newer dorms.

  11. I only had one-and-two-fifteenths dorm-mates in college.

    My freshman year roomie and I ended up cordially disliking each other. We're FB friends, and I "like" the photos of his kids, but neither of us wants to stay in any kind of real contact.

    Sophomore year, the guy I was stuck with disappeared within two weeks; he moved down the hall to live with his friend. All I remember about him is that his buddies called him "Weasel," 'cuz he looked like Pauly Shore, and he owned a Supercat audiotape. Oh...and his mother would call the phone in my room instead of his new room, and since we were on Pacific time and she was on Eastern time, she'd wake me at god-awful early morning hours.

    And then there was The Vaporware Roommate. After Weasel moved out, I lived alone in a double room (at the discounted double-occupancy rate), which suited me just fine, but that state of affairs didn't suit the Housing office. Thus, it was decided that I would get a roommate once the students on the foreign-study program came back in the Spring semester.

    I'd put a lot of effort into setting up my little palace as a single-residence--part of which was cobbling together a lofted double bed--and I figured that, dammit, I wasn't going to do all that work by myself again. I'd just wait until the new guy showed up, and then we'd rearrange the room together.

    Spring semester arrived, the foreign-study students returned...and the promised roommate never showed up. No roomie? w00t! But then one day, I came home to a stern message on my answering machine: "This is Karen, the Residence Life Area Coordinator. I've received a report that you're trying to force your roommate out."


    Apparently, my putative dorm-mate had arrived one day when I was in class, let himself in, saw the double bed, and nearly crapped himself. The guy also told the Area Coordinator that he'd tried to speak to me once, but I'd ignored him and breezed on by. I can see the first situation...but I didn't know the guy from Adam; I couldn't have ignored him on purpose had I wanted to.

    I made a panicked phone call to to the AC and explained the situation. She laughed. "Yeah, I thought he was kind of a whiner. I'll put him somewhere else."

    So, yeah...I had a roommate during my freshman year, for about two weeks during my sophomore year, and in the next two years, I had a single and then moved off-campus to live with my fraternity brothers.

    1. I'm still in close contact with the fraternity brothers, but the other roomies? Nah.

  12. One roommate I actually tried to hide from when he came back on campus after he graduated. He was like some others I knew in college, but with an angry streak. He was pious and messianic but in an Up With People sorta way. But he also thought himself a great heartthrob and inflicted on me stories of his conquests, from his imavirgintillmarriage stage to his whatever later stages. How that fit with his near-fundamentalism I have no idea. He'd goad one of my best friends into wrestling with him and get all red in the face and hateful when the other guy held his own or won. He sang Elvis songs into a pocket tape recorder and then would listen to himself singing "Love Me Tender"--and play it "for" me as well. I had to hear stories about his great landscaping business, too, and the heavy machinery he invested in. The only thing that exceeded the dimness of his intelligence was his towering lack of self-awareness.

    I loved some of my other roomies. I haven't been able to find any of them since they have the most generic names possible.

  13. While we don't keep in touch, I know how my roommates ended up.
    Four are engineers, one of them has (at least) a Master's degree.
    One is a CPA.
    One is a pediatrician.
    One is a veterinarian.

  14. I had a single room in freshman year, and I really wished I'd been in a double room with a roommate. I did have a bunch of housemates in later years, and since we were close friends in high school too we still get together once or twice a year. The housemates I had in grad school I still keep in contact with, and we also manage to see each other about once or twice a year. Actually, seeing them constitutes the near entirety of my social calendar, because it is pretty damn scant. I have a handful of friends who started out simply as the husbands of my wife's friends, and they're good for going to see the latest Star Trek or Jason Bourne movie, or have them over for Saturday dinner, but it's my former housemates with whom we'll organize a weekend away at a cottage or similar.

  15. I was a commuter student, so I avoided the dorms in undergrad. Do my parents count? LOL

    Similar to Anonymous above, I was close to a guy when I was in grad school for a bit. He roomed with his "best friend" his junior year of undergrad, but all he did was bitch about him to me. I didn't think they were actually that tight (you know, in that toxic masculine way guys can be best fiends with men they hardly know and definitely don't care that much about); in fact, they seemed more rivals than friends. He even told me they had spoken about the future and his best buddy told him he didn't plan to keep in touch. My friend seemed really lonely; I felt so sorry for him because I liked him a lot. He also seemed a little too into me. Then he joked I was one of his best friends. And he kept coming to me for advice. And then, one day after a small fight, he dumped me and said "we were never really friends." See, his bestest buddy in the whole world was the one he had to spend all his free time with, not silly me!

    A few years ago, I glanced through the alumni flyer and saw he was one of those sad-sacks who posted a "here's all the great stuff I am up to" life update. He was totally trying to brag about shit that most of the alumni he knew at Snooty Ivy would never be impressed with. Especially his MBA from some podunk U that would get laughed at by his "peers" (who I can only surmise he was trying to impress).

    It all made me sad because I would have been so happy for him had any of this actually made him happy. But I don't think it did. He always seemed too invested in trying to impress all the wrong people and not impressing himself with his own accomplishments. I hope I am wrong, but I doubt I am.

    -Anon y mouse

  16. I only lived in the dorms for a year, then ended up sharing a small townhouse with other students. It was a long time ago, before they asked about smoking preferences. So I woke up to a filled ash tray every morning. But then my roomie put up with the fact that I brought a rented piano into our tiny room (and practiced hours every day). She ended up sleeping with the resident advisor so wasn't there much... so I guess I can't complain.

  17. Astronomy is a small field, so I have been in touch with college roommates continuously ever since we were undergraduates. I publish scientific papers, based on our programs with Hubble Space Telescope, with one. I travel to total solar eclipses with another, who nowadays organizes the expeditions.

    Another was a music major who subsequently got a job playing in the band on a cruise ship. He met a rich lady, and so became "a kept man." The rest of us joked, "It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it."

    Another was a chemistry major. Back in the day, in our dorm room we produced a substance we called "gin." It tasted like something you'd dress wounds with. This project began when we were watching "MASH" on TV one night, when he looked at the still in the Swamp and said, "We're a couple of smart guys. Why can't we do that?" He's now a psychiatrist, and gets excellent drugs.

    As far as grad school goes, it strikes me now how evil most of the people I knew then turned out. Most are now Wall Street money shufflers or lawyers: very few are doctors or teachers, or otherwise do anything beneficial to humankind.

  18. Actually, yes. Through the magic of Facebook, I have reconnected with many friends from college -- I was in a discipline that was very tight -- and am in regular contact now with three of my roommates from college, one of whom I would continue to spend time with on a regular basis if we lived near to each other.

    In fact, this group of college friends never completely lost touch, even after 30+ years. Except for the fact that I married a jackass way too young, my undergraduate experience was nearly ideal. I was a very lucky young woman.

    I divorced the jackass after 13 years of marriage, nearly two decades ago. In some ways, I'm a slow learner. And because he's also friends with all these folks and is a very nasty person at heart, he's blocked from my FB page. My friends are so cool about it that they give me a heads up if he's responded to a thread in which I'm engaged. He's on Wife No. 3. My friends know the score.

    But my college roommates? I'm delighted to be able to keep up with them, for sure.

  19. I'm in sporadic touch with 2 our of 5 undergrad roommates (from freshman and sophomore/junior years), and am close friends with one of my two grad school roommates. All of that is good; while the importance of those relationships in my life vary, none of them are weird,and I enjoy catching/keeping up.

    Of the remaining roommates, one was odd enough that I just googled to figure out what happened to her. That didn't yield much information, though she does seem to be alive, which is good news, since, in retrospect, she showed some signs of depression (she also was/is a psychiatrist's daughter, which doesn't always lead to great sanity. She seemed pretty annoying at the time; in retrospect she seems pretty sad, and I hope she's gotten happier over time). Still, I have no desire to get in touch, though I'll read her entry in the book of short class autobiographies that comes out every five years if she's written one this time (I think I've at least checked in the past).

    Another was short-term (after the one above moved out mid-year), and, if I'm remembering correctly, we were supposed to be roommates senior year, and then she pulled out of that for some reason (maybe living off-campus with a boyfriend? or going abroad?). All that notwithstanding, I've run into her name now and then because she's an academic, and publishes in some places that I read and enjoy. If we ran into each other, I don't think it would be too awkward, and we'd probably have a good conversation.

    I can't quite remember the name of my senior-year roommate, who was placed with me because there was an empty space in the suite my planned roommate and I had picked, and the actual senior-year roommate was returning from a year abroad. We had very little in common (except, interestingly enough, family religious background/affiliation): she was into business, headed for Wall Street, spending her senior year networking like crazy, including joining selective clubs, and applying for jobs. I was writing a senior thesis, and had no idea what I'd do after graduation. She was also African-American, which makes me wonder in retrospect whether I could/should have tried harder to connect with her, but she seemed at the time to be doing pretty well at accomplishing what she wanted to accomplish, so it seems to me that race played relatively little role in our failure to connect (I'm aware that she might remember things differently).

    1. And finally there's the boy (okay, very young man -- we were both very young, younger in some ways than our years, since my undergrad institution tends to attract the academically overdeveloped and socially underdeveloped, and concentrates that phenomenon when it puts the non-legacies -- i.e. those who really got in on the basis of their smarts -- together in the non-historic dorms) who lived upstairs freshman year (we were sex-segregated by floor, in keeping with local regulations about which kinds of unrelated people could share a bathroom), and who was in the same dorm complex the rest of the four years (in part because I chose to follow the group of freshman-dorm friends of which he was a part), with whom I was in unrequited love most of the time, and who was gay but not out to himself, let alone me (though his eventual coming out was not really a surprise; however, I was young and idealistic in a particular way, and figured that if a young man with some classically feminine traits said he was straight, there was nothing to preclude that. And actually there isn't, perhaps even less so in these days of stereotype-busting and gender fluidity, which I'm all for, but, at least in my day, the odds of someone whose behavior matched many gay stereotypes in fact being gay were pretty high). While we were not romantically involved (or at least not any where near equally invested in the possibility of a romantic connection), we were and are friends, and are still in sporadic touch, and while it has been weird at times (in part because we've never really talked directly about any of the above; then again, one of the things we share, despite coming from different ethnic backgrounds, is coming from families who don't really do the talking-it-all-out thing, and for all that I'd prefer to break that tradition with those in my present life, including most living family members, I'm not feeling a need to hash out our history with this particular person), it has mostly become less so over time.