Flatmates: The joys and otherwise of sharing your space. Thin walls, how to watch YouTube in the shower, and an unorthodox approach to avoiding vet's bills.
I’m getting quite keen to find a place of my own. I’ve always shared, y’see. I mean, for the first 18 years or so, everyone does, don’t they? That’s not so much “flat-sharing as it is “growing up”. And you can’t refer to your parents as housemates, because “These are my housemates, mum and dad” is even worse than just owning up and saying “I live with my parents”.
I mean, imagine that. Bringing someone home and then referring to your mum and dad as your housemates. Even if your intended lover doesn’t see through your elaborate ruse immediately, you’re going to run into problems as soon as the small talk… “So, how did you guys meet Scott?” “He came out of me” that’s pretty much your chances of an exciting evening ruined, right there. And besides that, even if you can get them up to your room without any awkward meetings with parents, I think I’d struggle to get sexy if I knew that my mum and dad could hear every bedspring squeak and every breathless grunt.
The only thing worse than trying to be quiet would be hearing your mum turn Strictly Come Dancing up really loud. Because then I’d know she’d heard something. There’s some things that can’t be covered up with a passa doble and someone shouting SEVEN!
It’s not much better with housemates. They might not have wiped your bum, cleaned up your sick and taught you how to walk (except for that one birthday where I drank a bottle of Absinthe to myself), but they still have to live with you. I do my best to arrange Gentleman Callers when there’s no-one else in. Although that said, I can usually get the noisy bit done quite quickly, so if I time it right, my housemate will have gone to the Chinese across the road, and by the time he’s back with his fried rice or whatever, we’re onto the cuddling and finding out one another’ names, or whatever.
There was one time after a young man had popped round, my housemate said “Did you have a girl in your room?” And, y’know, points to him for assuming sexuality is flexible and that I might be entertaining a lady guest; it’s certainly happened before, however infrequently and awkwardly, but I said no and he replied “Oh, must have just been a really high-pitched guy then… I could hear sexy times happening, but then I heard a really girly voice moaning and I thought perhaps…” There was more than that, but that’s the point I ran away and made a promise to myself to do my best not to have sex when anyone else was in.
Although a few times even trying to get the place to myself has backfired. Nothing puts you off your stride quite so much as hearing the front door go just as you’re getting into it. It can be quite a gear change from noisy grunty oooh yeah to quiet and gentle and do you mind if I just… Oh gosh, how lovely. Especially if the other person has no idea what’s going on…
Imagine if you’d got a new pair of wellies and you’d been promising them you were going to stomp around and get messy and really enjoy putting your feet in them, only to suddenly go all gentle footprints and sneaky tippy toes… Your boots would have something to say, especially if you’d already been a bit generous when describing your shoe size…
One of my mates at uni used to live with a super hot straight guy. This guy was stunning, and apparently most of the girls agreed too, as he rarely found his dance card without a full set of stamps, if you know what I mean. He apparently responded to noise complaints by sticking sponges on the wall behind his headboard, so that it wouldn’t keep banging against the wall. Which, to my mind, is spoiling things a bit. What’s the point in having a hot straight housemate if you can’t listen in to them giving all the girls in the neighbourhood a good seeing to?
So, yes, I’m thinking about finding a place of my own. Or, I was. Until I was in the shower this morning. I balance my phone on the sink so I can watch youtube videos while I get a wash, because this is the 21st Century and why not? Ideally I’d have a waterproof TV above the bath, but the landlord says I’d have to pay for it myself… Anyway.
Watching Youtube in the shower, but when I leaned over to choose the next video my foot slipped. And for a moment, I knew that was it. I was going to die, right there. Neck broken, or head smashed in on the side of the toilet, naked, in a pool of my own blood and moisturising shower gel, with 10 Reasons Kirk was better than Picard playing away to itself in the background… And if I’m going to die naked and slippery, I want something a bit more rock and roll than that. At least shove an orange in my mouth and dress me up in fishnets before you call the ambulance. Give ‘em something to talk about.
Anyway, yeah. Obviously, I didn’t die. I managed to steady myself. But it got me thinking… My housemates might drive me up the wall, (for example, I like a bath. I shower to get clean, but a bath is nice and relaxing. I get a book, and a cup of tea and just generally let everything fall away. It’s lovely.
Or it would be. Because currently, every time I have a bath, every single time, no matter the time of day or night, around the half hour mark, my housemate will knock on the door and say “Are you going to be long?” As if he’s worried I’ve drowned in there or something. It doesn’t matter if Im tell him beforehand, or check that no-one else needs the bathroom, after about half an hour of bubbles and my book, there’ll be a little knock at the door. I used to find it irritating, but after today, I”m kinda glad.)
If I’d lived alone, slipped and splattered myself all over the tiles, how long would I have laid there before anyone noticed? Work would just think I was skiving, and if I didn’t have housemates, there’d be no one to check to see if everything was ok… Granted, they’d mostly be wanting to have a wee or clean their teeth or something, but at least they’d find me before I get really smelly and goopy.
It would be worse with pets. No-one wants to be just a skeleton found, surrounded by sad but rather fat-looking pets...
Although I expect some cat owners would be ok with it. They seem the type. Oh, my poor baby hasn’t eaten all day, despite being fully capable of going outside and catching something if it really felt the need. Quick, bring me a carving knife so I can nurture it with my own flesh…” Blergh.
Y’know, someone I was friends with from university was complaining on Facebook about how they were spending over a thousand pounds a month on vet’s bills to keep their cat alive. It’s not like it had been hit by a car, or anything traumatic, it was just old. And people had written comments like “Oh, I totally understand! I’d do anything to keep my cat around as long as possible!” And “Oh, you poor thing! Cats are like babies!” And on and on. I posted “Sorry to hear that, but it seems like you’re just postponing the inevitable. Hit it with a spade and move on.” There were a lot of notifications after that, but I was at work and by the time I got around to reading them, the original poster had blocked me.
Maybe the answer isn’t to live by myself, but to put the extra money I”d have to spend on rent in a place by myself into some really good noise-cancelling headphones for my housemates. Then I can be as loud as I like, and just hope the batteries don’t give out before I’m done. And worrying about if the batteries will last is usually only a problem when I’m by myself…