The end of an era is near (or is it the end of an error?) as my stint of living with roommates for 15 years is over Oct. 1. From 2004 to 2019, I lived with 25 different people in three different states. From randos at Club Commons to former and future brother-in-laws and a plethora of friends in between, my saga — albeit extended due to Aspen’s lack of affordable housing — has been comical, occasionally contentious and, above all else, long.
Like a sitcom too lazy to come up with a serviceable storyline at the end of its run, I’m going to forgo any kind of substance and just play the hits. Below are some very true stories from my time enduring an excessive number of derelicts (no offense to some and all of the offense to others).
One’s lifestyle changes dramatically from 18 to 33. Where there were once mountains of Coors Light cans, there is now only a mere hill. Raucous birthday parties are now dinner gatherings.
Fat kid feasts featuring heaps of nachos and heartburn-inciting pizza and raviolis have made way for steak and rice, cheese boards and other more flavorful, less artery-clogging fare.
However, you occasionally get an urge to sit on your balcony and throw empty beer cans in the air for pellet gun practice; to play drinking games until one of you drives through a fence; bathe in applewood smoke before a spritz of barbecue sauce and pork fat; spear tackle a friend into a kiddie pool over a lingering fantasy football feud; take breakfast and bloodies to new heights and blurry downloads; play College Football and scream “It’s going the other way!” until the sun comes up; polish off brown liquor with each errant dart throw; or play beer pong or beer die while in a fog of cigarette and weed smoke.
That said, not too many people long for the days of Pretty Lights rattling their walls; people using your laundry table as a sex swing; that unwelcome guest/guy with the neck tattoo greeting you for morning coffee; holes in the drywall; police raiding a party of 25-year-old delinquents; auto theft; clouds of cigarette and weed smoke; angry neighbors; the smell of stale beer; and mystery liquids that make walking through your kitchen sound like somebody removing patches of Velcro.
After the party and the after party comes the reckoning. I’ve been witness to all sorts of cleaning shortcuts. Substituting lint rollers for vacuums, waiting for the messy roommate to blink as dishes pile up in the sink and using Febreeze as an all-purpose cleaner are all such examples. However, some messes require resorting to more drastic measures — like incineration.
Waking up to your roommates discovering a damp couch after an acquaintance with a notoriously loose bladder slunk off in the early morning hours is terrible for obvious piss-related reasons. The biggest of which is buying a couch on a budget usually means swapping a sofa with a known stain for one with a mystery blotch.
What’s worse is investigating a roommate because he’s actively checking furniture like it’s an NHL playoff game only to find him approaching your davenport as if it were a urinal. No matter how loud you scream, your obliterated buddy isn’t stopping that stream until you physically accost him.
Speaking of physical assaults, I’ll spare you the actual fights over phantom/perceived girlfriends and go straight to the one where trying to play peacemaker was an awful decision. You know that one friend who gets a little aggro when he has been drinking? Imagine him trying to rouse his equally aggressive doppelganger from a state of blacked-out slumber. Then imagine stepping in to break it up before both culprits knock you off balance and use your body as a sled down the stairs.
Not all assaults are of the physical nature, though. There’s also ocular and aural assaults or just an assault on common decency. Working out in your own personal space is fine; I’ve done it. But “training” for a 5K by doing pushups with your feet on the coffee table while listening to Alex Clare’s ode to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer will force even the best roommate to drink your Miller Lites.
Also, while I’m on the subject of passable decorum, please don’t ever snag a pair of your roommate’s boxers because you hate laundry day. We all hate laundry day; keep your grundle in your own garments.
Alas, the days of extended bromances and suspect substances are over. Impromptu parties will now have to be self-motivated and created via texts and not by yelling upstairs.
I would say I’m torn but the empty couch greeting me after a long double will be just as satisfying as the silence-breaking crack of that pre-shower-beer beer. Sure, there are perks to having roommates — lower rent, developing/handling relationships, blunts, column fodder — but after more than a dozen years and more than two dozen roommates, I’m good.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.