Food, Sitcoms and Silence: A Tale of Two Awkward Roommates

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There are usually three expectations when meeting a college roommate; you both hit it off and become inseparable friends, you both end up in a neutral relationship and part ways with empty goodbyes or you’re both filled with spite and can’t even stand being in the same room together. It’s hard to remember that there are areas between these three points.

When it came to roommates I never really struck the metaphorical gold mine. Deep conversations, late night shenanigans and a lasting friendship were chucked off of the roommate table. Freshman year held faults with one being too extroverted in the wrong way, so I kept my expectations a little lower for my sophomore year roommate. Just like magic, my expectation was met. However, it was met far too well.

I was never a talkative person with those I just met, and I wanted to change that with this new roommate. I could tell that we wouldn’t have a lot in common since all we chatted about during the summer was who was bringing what to the room (I always bring the rug), but I was confident. I strolled into my new room on a humid Friday afternoon. The lights were off, the television was on and he was lying in bed like a hermit. I wasn’t too put off by this, so I tried to start up a conversation. As I unpacked my belongings and sweated through the cheap AC, we asked the usual icebreaker questions, but left it at that. Not only did we have completely different diets but his music taste left me with very little to work with.

I juggled work, classes and clubs that nearly consumed my whole day. They left me out of the room from the early a.m. to the earlier a.m. Needless to say I was hard to talk to since all I ever did in the room was sleep. This lack of communication was the first and longest fault of our friendship.

I noticed the second fault after the first week. I thought it was only a fluke at first, but it kept reoccurring; he slept with the television on, and it was always Nick at Nite. Unfortunately, we were already past the hardly talking phase and waist deep in the muck of the “hello” and “later dude” phase. This made it difficult to tell him to turn the television off at 3 a.m. I didn’t know how much more George Lopez I could handle.

Another fatal flaw pried its way into view after week two. It was a rancid one at best; he was never clean. I would walk into the room and immediately smell dirty gym clothes and foul smelling TV dinners. The overpowering stench of frozen mac and cheese left my nose dazed and confused. Did he ever leave the room?

At this point, I knew we would never talk again. We were both far below the friendship line for me to bring up these annoyances. It even got to the point where we wouldn’t look at each other anymore. I’d spend my days out and about, only to return home to a blaring television and the coma-inducing smell of microwavable hot wings. Some nights I would return early and be in bed before he was home. I can only assume he was at his frat house obtaining a degree in belligerency. Sometimes he would explode into the room breathing heavily and drag me away from slumber in the process. The television would magically turn on and reach uncomfortable volumes. Seconds later the smell of freezer-burnt food would fill my nostrils. All I would do is toss about in my bed and try to ignore the 90’s sitcoms and unhealthy frozen meals that were damaging my senses.

Most nights during the school year played like a broken record smothered in cheap food, bad sitcoms and awkward silence. Even after sophomore year ended, the silence stayed. We left the same day for summer vacation, but we never said goodbye. It would have been a rockslide of awkward even if we did.

Many students usually stereotype roommate situations as hardly problematic, a little awkward but with no major flaws or downright unbearable. Strangely, I was sort of glad to beat this stereotype. Every person that I meet won’t always be a complete friend or enemy; there will always be that middle ground that leaves people in an awkward trance. It makes me question how clashing with others would turn out to be a lesson I needed to learn. Either way, it is a reminder that life is a firm believer of awkward situations.

Matt Howard is a junior at Ohio University studying Advertising while specializing in English and Creative Writing. He strives to become the Doctor's next companion while writing about the topics that deserve recognition.

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