One of the fundamental experiences of growing up is earning an awful roommate story. On the other hand, being an awful roommate is also a fundamental part of being young and dumb. The tricky bit, however, is figuring out which category you fall into. Unfortunately, most of us never actually find out until a mutual friend tells us how much shit our old roommate talked in our absence.
So the staff of VICE Canada reached into our dark roommate past and asked what they were like to live with. Here's what the people who are still willing to speak to them had to say.
A Review of Allison Elkin by Her Roommate, Pittsburgh, 2008
For being younger than most college freshmen, at 17, Allie was ahead of her time. With a more sophisticated fashion sense than myself and invites to Carnegie Mellon frat parties, I wasn't sure what to think at first. Within 24 hours of living together in our one-room dorm, I sustained a clove cigarette burn to the arm from her when we were drunk and had the opportunity to greet her obsessive ex-boyfriend at our door, whom she had just broken up with via telephone the night before so she could fuck a frat boy. Of course, a long-distance boyfriend would have been better than the unplanned and unwanted second roommate I obtained for the whole year. The lovebirds would cuddle and play World of Warcraft… all day. Her boyfriend's roommates and I would argue over who got stuck with them the most, but I'd say it was me. Nevertheless, it wasn't all bad, if you don't count that time her friend snorted some pills off my desk in exchange for an American Apparel discount. Or the times I had my heart broken by a few of her boyfriend's rollerblading friends (yes, rollerblading). Or the time we got stranded in a sketchy neighborhood after an indie show and she convinced me to take a ride home with a stranger. But really, I digress, without her taking me shopping so many years ago, I might still be a scene kid, so for that I will always thank her.
A Review of Manisha Krishnan by Her Mom, Vancouver, 2006–2012
Manisha and I moved into our apartment in 2006. She was young and still in school, so obviously I cut her some slack. There were some interesting times over the years and I kept telling myself "she will grow up and this will all pass." "Growing up" took a lot longer than I expected. During her high school years Manisha thought she was very smart and I was naïve. This notion continued into college years and even into early adulthood. Having a "no alcohol" party thinking she was smart enough to get away with it when there were telltale signs all over the place. Having weed in her room and when I asked what it was she told me it was one of her Asian friend's grandmother's homemade "medicine" for headaches. Funny it didn't cure her hangovers! Coming home at odd hours, waking me up because she forgot her keys somewhere, trying to "cook" noodles and setting off the fire alarm with a house full of smoke, and sleeping through it all. I can't forget the night she went out with four of her visiting cousins and came home with three—had no idea where the fourth one was.
Organizing dinner parties and funnily enough not being around when it was time to shop and cook. I am amazed Manisha managed to find her way around her room with the floor barely visible. I can't imagine another roommate putting up with all this.
A Review of Navi Lamba by Her Roommate, Paris, 2014
Living with Navi was very similar to the experience of living with a sister: We enjoyed each other's company immensely, while also annoying the fuck out of each other. We were different in most ways, so clashes were inevitable. I love bright, open windows and fresh air like a well-functioning human, while Navi preferred to watch old episodes of Frasier alone in her room, in the dark. I went to sleep early, and Navi would sneak through the apartment at 5 AM to get to her bedroom. I'm obsessively clean, Navi was more… lax smile emoticon. Even our taste in music clashed, which is an unfortunate difference when sharing a small, not-at-all soundproof living space of 35 square meters.
It's easy to focus on our hideous differences, but it was a pleasure living with her. Our dinners, drinks, heart-to-hearts were all treasured experiences and looking back now I hardly remember the times she had fairly audible sex in the room next door.
A Review of Josh Visser by His roommate, Cardiff, Wales, 2005
How few specific events I can actually recall about it is probably a pretty good measure of the type of housemate you were–mostly drinking and giving me things to drink. In the sober times you were good conversation about the relative merits of the early Nine Inch Nails albums. On your first Canada Day in the UK we went shopping to buy as much Canadiana as you could find on a barman wage–mostly Peaches albums and Canadian Club–and threw an excellent house party that included a food fight that was never fully cleaned up until the day we moved out. You never paid rent or cooked or cleaned, but you did regularly buy me hoagies on our way to work and use your exotic accent to start conversations with girls in bars after work. Then there's the time you woke up after a night out, bloodied and convinced you were a drunken assassin…
A Review of Jake Kivanc by His Roommate, Toronto, 2015
It's been a few months since you moved out, but I still hear that incredibly annoying opening to Drake's "Digital Dash" during quieter evenings. At the beginning, you played it modest sleeping in shorts—glad you eventually got comfortable roaming around in your boxer briefs. Thanks for waking me up in the middle of the night because apparently screaming absolute nonsense in your sleep is normal. I plucked your eyebrows, listened to your masturbation adventures, charged you nearly pennies for rent, and yet still, losing a bet was the only way to motivate you to wash the dishes without me asking. The only things that were consistent was the relaxed environment, the good chats, and the trail of Cheerios I'd always find the morning after your late-night snacking because, maybe, you thought ants would make good pets.
I must be delusional because through it all, I still enjoy your company.
A Review of Raf Katigbak by his Roommate, Montreal, 2007
Living with Raf was great but it was his place and it was a total party house and sometimes there were people still up and high on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday mornings when I had to get up for school or work.
I once ate breakfast with a posse of French Canadian ravers who were so fucked they were pretending to be snakes and trying to "slither" into the hardest-to-reach corners of the living room. They were knocking over shelves and spilling everything everywhere and knocking over ashtrays and stuff, and Raf just came down and was like "whatever" and left for the day.
Also half the ground floor was like a weird 70s recording studio/band space with so many plugs and wires I'm surprised the building never burned down. I think I lasted a year.
A Review of Jordan Pearson by His Roommate, London, Ontario, 2011–2015
Email printed in full:
150 words bitch
My experience of living with Jordan can be boiled down to two things: music and discussion (often about music). Jordan has both an aptitude for singing, and a plenitude of opinions, so you could say I heard his voice a lot. However, he is genuinely modest, and will bemoan his lack of social skills while at the same time elegantly introducing you to this or that interesting person. I owe a lot of my best connections to his ability to generate a meaningful dialogue with anybody.
Throughout the years, even as the Pabst era peaked (plateau'd [for a long time]), declined and gave way to the 4Loko era, we always retained some capacity for musical discussion, whether it was about his own projects, that of friends', or Tatsuro Yamashita's. Living and talking with Jordan for a significant chunk of my life was extremely fun, gratifying, influential, and above all educational.
A Review of Dan Brioux by His roommates, Toronto, 2012–2015
During my time at University, I lived in a mint-green house formerly owned by notorious Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel with 11 other young men whom I love dearly. Here's what they think of me:
- Steve: Dan took me to salad king when my girlfriend and I broke up. Then we watched the Simpsons. That's Dan in a nutshell. Good friend. Loves the Simpsons. Also, he would often steam his face with freshly cooked pasta and drink out of plastic cups. Let that be his legacy.
- Brendan: Dan is one seriously patient dude, considering he had a full band practicing every day directly above his room and has yet to murder anyone. He even comes out to our shows! What a guy.
- Eddie: Ask Dan to do his Owen Wilson impression, that'll really make his day.
- Sam: Ask Dan to do his Gord Downie impression, that'll really make his day. If there's one thing I learned from living with Dan, it's to always keep your chips in your own room.
- Jason: When Dan showed me Snoop Dogg rapping "Drop it Like it's Hot" over the Kirby theme song, I knew we would be best friends forever. That happened on the first day we met. I didn't become a man at my bar mitzvah. I became a man when Dan didn't have to tell me to take the trash out anymore.
- Griffin: Wednesday, October 28. Day 80 of impersonating Dan. Took his dad Bill out for lunch. We had a nice chat, but I feel as if we're growing more and more distant. He complimented me on my sweater. Griffin? Dan? Hard to tell anymore.
- Will: Dan would also always leave his dishes in our living room. He was the worst at that. Thanks for finally giving us a forum to publicly shame you, Dan.
A Review of Sasha Kalra by His Roommate, Toronto 2007–2008
FYI: Noisey, ballsy move turning your social media feed over to a guy who used to get noise complaints for playing the All-American Rejects too loud. That should work out well.