Tuesday, July 31, 2007

They Were Careless People

My girlfriend has been making three of my four room-mates uncomfortable. On her lunch hour, twice a week, tops, she comes over to The House when she knows I am not at home and flips through the channels or pets my cat. The three room-mates all have the same complaint—"I'm sitting here, she comes over, starts watching Family Channel." They don't want her in the house when I'm not there. A valid point. I told my room-mates that I had told her she could come over, if she wanted, because her job is five minutes away, and spending time in a house instead of alone in front of a soulless white wall and a microwave seemed like a hospitable idea. Also, I think, a valid point. Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage." There are other points.

1) If my room-mates didn't really know my girlfriend, I could understand their unease. But two of them have known her for two years, and the third room-mate has known her for three. 2) If my room-mates were unnaccustomed to having non-room-mates show up at the house, I would understand. But the house has a revolving door, and many people, girls, guys, have shown up and had unannounced and extended stays. 3) If my girlfriend was disliked by my room-mates, I might understand, but two of my room-mates are fine with her, while the third, disliking her, has disgraced himself in his dislike and no longer makes much reference to her. 4) If my girlfriend had been slanderous or dismissive of my friends, I would understand them being uncomfortable around her. But she has gone out of her way to be friendly and fair towards them. In turn, she has been viciously slandered and maligned by the room-mate who dislikes her, betrayed (perhaps mistakenly) by the second room-mate, and half-ignored by the third. 5) If my girlfriend had been ungenerous toward my room-mates, stingy in her courtesy, ignoring them, I would understand my room-mates. Three times, however, my room-mates have come up short on either rent or utilities. Three times my girl-friend has come to the aid of The House, and let me borrow from her line of credit. When I reminded my one room-mate of this, he merely responded, "Yes, but did she do it for you, or for me?" Who raised this boy? My girlfriend, by the way, has never mentioned or hinted to my room-mates or myself that she is in any way extraordinary or wonderful for rescuing The House, or that we are in any way obliged to her.

My girlfriend does not come around The House very much, anymore. Although I blame my three room-mates and also blame myself, I blame one room-mate very much more than the rest. I feel that my world, because he is in it, has grown smaller. His small-hearted small-minded selfishness has constricted the behaviour of my girlfriend and myself. He is vain and thus afraid and thus cruel, and his words are often cancer. He is unchristian. He has forced his limitations upon me, and made his limits mine.

In the beginning, before we rented The House, my future room-mates and I agreed on something called The Sixth Key. The Sixth Key, apparently, was a lot of bullshit talk on my room-mates' part. This key was to be particularly for the use of very good friends and girlfriends and boyfriends, for people who could make use of our house even when the pertinent room-mate wasn't there. Ours was to be a welcoming house. But our house is no such thing. The one room-mate has told his girlfriend that she is on no account to be at The House if he is not at The House. I have known his girlfriend longer than I have known him. The other room-mate's girlfriend once showed up at the front door, in the rain, and stood, shivering, refusing to come in, saying she would wait for her boyfriend to come to the door. I nearly had to force her to come inside. There is something wrong at The House, some malady unknown to me, and distressful. The House is a selfish zone, discourteous and divisive. And, for me, quite uncomfortable.

"They’re a rotten crowd," I shouted across the lawn. "You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together."