I knocked on the door.“I knew you'd come,” he said.
It was my second year of college, and I had just moved out of the dorms into a small off-campus apartment. The place was small and had thin walls, but it was cheap and well-maintained. The only downside was my neighbors, who gave me a strange vibe. I would hear them arguing at all hours of the night, speaking French (even though when I spoke to them they both had American accents).
One night, I was trying to fall asleep, when I heard them talking (in French). Since my bedroom shared a wall with their bathroom, I was curious as to why they were chatting in their bathroom, but I figured what the hell, to each their own. I soon realized, though, that they were doing much more in their bathroom than chatting, as the sounds of conversation morphed into the sounds of loud sex.
I got up to go watch TV until they had finished, but as I left the room I heard the voice of a third person join in… then a fourth… then a fifth! Soon enough, they were having a bona fide bathroom orgy, shouting things in French that I'm sure they don't print in phrase books. In retrospect, I regret not knocking on their door. What were they doing? Where were they doing it? In the tub? On the commode? So many unanswered questions.
My freshman year of college, I roomed with an uptight guy who constantly called his best friend from high school, a girl who was attending a different college. The biggest defining characteristic I remember about him was how he was oddly cut-off from pop culture: he’d never heard of half the music I played, which at the time, included a lot of “Weird Al" Yankovic, of all people.
One night, I caught the end of a phone call with his gal pal. She was dating someone, and though he said he was happy for her, I could see it was killing him. In a moment of brotherly compassion, I lent him a stack of Weird Al cassettes and left.
When I returned much later, the lights were off in our room. I snuck in, figuring he was asleep, but the hallway light fell on his bed, revealing furious motion at groin level and a photo of his lady friend thumb-tacked to the wall. The movement stopped and I slipped into my bed. It was embarrassing, but understandable; there were no judgments here. But then suddenly the movement started again. Loudly. He was panting. I cleared my throat audibly, but he just kept going. Moments later he said her name, groaned, then rolled over. A week later he quit college and took my Weird Al cassettes with him. That heartbroken, masturbating bastard.
I was reeling from a very brief and disastrous marriage, and I moved to Long Beach, CA to "work things out" with my ex. That didn't happen, but I did end up having a string of memorable roommates: a straight edge, rage-filled neo-Nazi; a pot-dealing indie record producer; an ecstasy-popping video-game salesman… the list went on. All would stay on a few months and then move along. Until the bisexual, Wiccan, bookstore clerk named Lynn came along.
I was drinking my sorrows away quite heavily at this point, Lynn and I sort of fell into a kinky S&M-style pseudo-relationship. There was no actual sex-having, no talking about feelings (or other "mushy" things), but a lot of biting, spanking, and mutual oral sex. She said she was incapable of achieving orgasm, and she smelled odd (kind of like turmeric root mixed with patchouli), but she lived five feet away and was game for weird shit.
Our “relationship” went on for a month or so, and then she brought a young, sexy co-worker named Maggie home so she could teach her how to knit. It just so happened I was home, and this girl and I hit it off fabulously. Maggie stayed up with me all night that first night: we watched a lunar eclipse on the beach and debated which Emily was better: Browning or Dickinson. She even, unbeknownst to me, asked for permission from Lynn to kiss me — permission which Lynn granted, albeit begrudgingly. Almost immediately, Maggie became our de-facto third roommate.
Lynn, for her part, was quietly seething with jealousy. It turned out she had stronger feelings towards me than she had let on, but she also bore strong feelings towards Maggie as well. But Maggie and I were quite enough for each other, sated by the exhilaration of falling as quickly and as preposterously in love as we did. After weeks of trying to awkwardly insert herself into our romantic and social lives with casual, awkward asides about our lovemaking and the "fun" we were having, one night, Lynn had finally had enough. She packed up all her stuff and left us a voicemail saying she was gone, over the course of a weekend when Maggie and I were away at her grandfather's funeral.
An aside: I continued to fall head-over-heels for Maggie, and ended up asking her to spend her life with me. We have a beautiful child together and have been together seven brilliant years. I never did see Lynn again.
My friend Lauren and her long-term boyfriend Jeremy were in the process of breaking up, and I was living in the other room of their two-bedroom apartment. One day, I was in my room with the door closed when they came in. They started arguing in the kitchen, and things began escalating. Flash forward about forty-five minutes, at which point things were truly, irrevocably over.
Lauren left the apartment, but Jeremy stayed behind and spent the next hour sobbing and wandering around the apartment, talking to himself about their relationship.
Neither of them knew I was there during this whole ordeal, and I'd waited too long to reveal myself, so I was stranded in my room, listening to his monologue of despair, unable to move or make any noise until he left.
I moved into a shared house, and one night, I went for a drink with one of the guys. We came back, and he put Sexcetera on. I remember thinking it was odd, but within ten minutes, we were topless, making out on the couch.
Being the sensible one, I stopped it dead and said something along the lines of, "We shouldn’t be shitting where we eat." He agreed eventually, and told me that he was going to bed but that he would be waiting for me, “should I change my mind.”
Fifteen minutes later, I realized he'd borrowed my phone charger earlier and that it was still in his room. I knocked on the door. "I knew you'd come," he said, naked on the bed, posing like a Playmate. I walked past him, grabbed my charger, and walked back out, trying not to laugh as he lay there, bedroom eyes quickly turning to puppy-dog eyes; the condom he'd already put on shriveling around his now-flaccid penis. He couldn't look at me for weeks.
My college roommate and I had fairly active sex lives in our two years living together, so we had eventually worked out a solid system that would help us not walk in on each other. Early one day, he sent me a text warning that I should probably be out of the room around eight for an hour, so I made plans to go to the bar with my friend Molly. Around midnight, we drunkenly made our way back to my room. I sent my roommate two warning texts saying that I was almost back. When we got to the door, I made sure to loudly fumble with the keys while talking boisterously, giving him one last signal that I was on my way in.
We opened the door to see my roommate, along with another guy, on their knees, giving a third guy a blowjob. We all looked at each other, and then very slowly, Molly and I turned around and booked it down the hallway. From that one-second-that-feels-like-forever moment, the other thing I distinctly remember was that Wicked was playing on our TV in the background.
I later found out that the guy getting the blowjob had never gotten one before. My roommate and the other guy got in an argument over who gave the best head, so they figured he’d be a good judge in this proposed competition. In the end, it turned out my roommate won.
I was tiptoeing down the stairs in our terrible duplex in the terrible college renters’ neighborhood because I knew my roommate Drew had a girl over to “watch a movie.” The couch they were sitting on was located under the stairs in a kind of nook, and so I didn’t see her bobbing head positioned over Drew’s crotch until it was too late. She didn’t look up; apparently she was too absorbed in her task. He did, and wordlessly, reached back through the banister for a high-five.
Living with a sibling is always a gutsy choice. I moved into my sister’s railroad apartment in Brooklyn with high expectations: uncensored conversation, a shared wardrobe, and an awesomely stocked refrigerator. It would have been the Shangri-La of accommodations had my sister not had her new boyfriend stay over every single night. From day one, I experienced no reprieve from his sweaty presence.
Exclamations of “Oh my God,” and “I’m going to come,” emerged from her French doors every evening and morning at a volume appropriate for the closed-captioning set. Wrapped in towels, hair matted down, they’d shuffle through my room mere minutes after I’d heard their performances (railroad-style, remember?), like shamed dogs tracking mud on the floor.
I was getting pretty annoyed, but I can sometimes have a crippling sense of forgiveness and understanding. This thread of understanding snapped when I asked to use my sister’s computer one day to print something out. I flipped open her laptop, only to be met with a picture of my sister’s boyfriend, in bed with her, his dick looming in the foreground. Someone (I’m hoping my sister) had Photoshopped bunny ears around his penis.
I asked my sister to meet for a serious conversation. I never told her what I saw, nor do I ever need to. After our talk, her boyfriend gave me money to pay for the cable bill that month, decreased his sleepovers to three times a week, and only dated my sister for another few months.
The worst part is, after all that visual strife, I found out why they never spent the night at his place: he was living with the woman he was still “in the middle of breaking up with.”
As the holidays approach, many of you will no doubt be meeting your S.O.'s parents and extended family for the first time. So, we'd like to mine some of your past emotional pain as you prepare for the coming months. What's your best story about "meeting the parents?" Send your best story, in 200-300 words, over to firstname.lastname@example.org.