Jeffery wasn’t scheduled to visit again for several months, and Shelly began entertaining night visitors. She came up with a combination of pills that allowed her to stay up all night, get to her morning classes, and then sleep all afternoon. At first the parties consisted of a group of men who sat on the floor drinking Jack Daniel’s, passing a hissing green glass bong, and listening to Jimi Hendrix or the Doors on the record player Shelly kept on her dresser. They engaged in the kind of chatter that seems profound and witty when you’re wasted but is annoying as hell to listen to when you’re not. I could never come up with the courage to drive the inebriated imbeciles out of the room, so I fumed in silence and choked smoke. On the occasions that I went to my room during class breaks and woke Shelly up at two or three o’clock in the afternoon, she would complain bitterly about my lack of consideration.
But Shelly’s late-night parties weren’t as bad as her late-night make-out sessions. After an exhausting day of being screamed at by the European chefs that I was paying to teach me how to cook, I’d be awakened in the dark of night by the smacking, sucking sounds of drunken lust from Shelly’s side of the room. The woman apparently had magnificent breasts; that was the most frequent compliment slurred in her honor.
After six weeks I begged the woman in the housing department to let me switch to another room. I was sick of making eye contact with all of Muriel’s creepy stuffed animals while I did homework. I was mad at having to keep my toothbrush and hairbrush at my desk so that they wouldn’t be knocked to the floor by my roommates every morning as they competed to see who could make the most noise. And even though I asked them not to, they would turn off the heater every morning. On top of all this, Jeffery would soon be arriving for another visit. The opportunity to witness him streak across the room, the majority of his pudgy self exposed, was not something I wanted to experience again.
Even though a class graduated every three weeks and the parking lot was jammed with moving vans on those days, the housing director claimed that she couldn’t honor my request until I’d been at the school for an entire quarter. I had about ten dollars’ spending money per week. During the weekdays I ate all my meals in the campus dining hall and collected soft rolls and leftovers from the dessert buffets to eat on the weekends. I had no choice but to wait. Living in Poughkeepsie wasn’t an option.
When the arbitrary deadline came and I was allowed to switch rooms, I was elated. I didn’t tell Muriel or Shelly. I enlisted several of my classmates to help me move my stuff to my new dorm room while my roommates were in class. I was tempted to exact vengeance by doing something juvenile, such as putting all of Muriel’s stuffed animals on Shelly’s semen-stained bed, but I didn’t.
All six of the women in my cooking class kept the same roommates for their tenure at the school. They knew each other’s secrets and went to bars and celebrated holidays together. I was a little disappointed that my new roommate and I didn’t become good friends, but I was grateful that she let me put my clothes in the closet and my toothbrush in the bathroom. She didn’t have a hissy fit if she found a hair in the bathroom sink. Best of all, I never saw her boyfriend naked.
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