Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Flatmate From Hell

I suspect Vile File's Mr M. may have ended up with my old Flatmate From Hell, from years ago when I was first a university student. I had forgotten about her, until reading Ms Vile's blog.

The Flatmate From Hell was a reasonably attractive young woman, in her early twenties. She made a good first impression. There were no clues. She seemed like a normal person the first time I met her. But after I moved in, and she decided I was her friend, it was pure hell. I had never met anybody who talked so much. I still haven't. She NEVER STOPPED. Her stream of consciousness was entirely externalised.

I quickly found that excusing myself and leaving the room did not work to escape her monologue, as she would follow, talking. She would follow me into my own room, and continue talking even after I'd stacked up all my books and papers and opened a book and started taking notes. If I asked her to stop, or to leave, she would sometimes apologize, sort of ("Oh, yes, I can see you're busy. I've been very busy today, too. Did I tell you about...?") and then continue, but more often she would just continue, as if she hadn't heard me.

She even followed me to the bathroom. The first time she did this my bowels refused to move while she was standing outside with her lips to the locked door, talking. She would not go away. When I politely explained that I was trying to take a dump she was very sympathetic and told me all about her own constipation. Every trivial thought that popped into her head came out of her mouth, in a compulsive neverending stream. It was like being inside the brain of a very boring person.

Boring is not a word I like to use about people, but when I think about it, 'boring' is the wrong word for her anyway. Boring is too passive a word. I was not bored. There is no single word for the way this woman made me feel. She made me feel uncomfortable and anxious and irritated and confused and sorry for her and as if I was losing my mind, all in one confused jumble of emotion. I was a polite and uncertain person, learning how to be normal, and not only did I not know how to get angry at her effectively, I was afraid if I let myself get angry I would go all the way and kill her, just to shut her up. I did not know how to deal with someone like her. Being polite wasn't working. Being blunt didn't work either, and I wasn't sure what the next step was.

One day I accidentally sucked up a leaf of one of her numerous plants while I was vacuuming. It was a huge plant, with hundreds of leaves. A MONSTER plant. Living in the same house with her was like living in a jungle, and she polished the leaves of her plants almost daily. She also talked to her plants, and they apparently enjoyed it because they grew to huge proportions. They were weird and nightmarish plants, impossibly healthy and vigourous. They made me uneasy after a while. She told me (in staggering detail) that they responded to her, and I think they did.

Anyway, while I was vacuuming around one of the monster plants, one small leaf near the bottom of the plant suddenly went WOOP! and vanished up the tube. It was just one leaf. I checked, and the plant was fine. I rearranged the bottom leaves and it wasn't even noticeable, I thought. It was still a monstrous, healthy plant.

But when she came home the first thing she noticed as she walked into the living room was the missing leaf. While I was still in shock from this miraculous feat, she proceeded to go apeshit. She talked and cried and raged at the awful thing that had happened to her plant while she was at work. I was horrified.

"Sorry, but, but, but, it was just one! ONE little leaf," I stammered. I felt disproportionately guilty and defensive.

"And you thought I wouldn't notice, didn't you?" she said accusingly, tears running down her face.

She polished the rest of the plant's leaves, talking soothingly to it and saying nasty things about me. Then she turned her attention back to me and talked and talked and talked about her plants, at first angrily, and then explaining why she had been angry. She was compelled to explain to me EXACTLY how important her plants were to her. Every tiny thought she'd ever had about a plant and her feelings about plants came out of her mouth the moment it entered her head, and she had a lot of tiny thoughts. Guilt made me listen for a while, but it was getting late and I had an early class.

I tried to go to bed, but she followed me into my room and continued talking. I started to undress. I told her I was going to shower and go to bed now, I was very sorry about her leaf but it was late and I needed to sleep. I kept undressing until I was naked, but she didn't appear to notice. She continued talking, her mouth opening and closing like a fish mouth as I stared at her, not hearing the words anymore. I wondered if I had tipped her over the edge. Then I thought no, she was over the edge already, and had been for some time. She followed me into the bathroom while I showered and cleaned my teeth. She followed me back to the bedroom and stood in the doorway, talking, while I climbed into bed, turned off the light, and closed my eyes. She carried on talking, talking, talking. It was incredibly disturbing. I thought there must be something I should do to help her, or at least to stop her, but whenever I tried to speak she talked over me. I lay there, hating her and feeling scared. Eventually I got up, told her I had to sleep now, and closed the door in her face. She carried on talking from behind the closed door, and eventually I fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion.

The Flatmate From Hell made me feel like a bad person, because from the moment I saw her in the mornings and her mouth opened I wanted to run screaming from the apartment, and keep running until I was out of earshot.

She was a very disturbed woman. So was I, after I had been living with her for a month. Shortly after the leaf incident I moved in with a friend who was living in a cramped basement bed-sitting room. Bless her. It was a tight fit, but oh, the relief!

I never heard what happened to the Flatmate From Hell, but it sounds like Mr M. has found her. I don't know whether Ms Vile's advice will work, but if it is the same woman, and he follows the advice, I would suggest that he wears earplugs.

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Michelle said...

You have far more patience than I would have had with that person. I hate people that constantly violate my personal space like that.

Cheryl said...

You make me want to laugh out loud, but then also feel incredibly guilty, seeing how you really lived through this.
Good grief!

Ms Vile File said...

After having read your story, I think Flatmate From Hell is an understatement.

I hope Mr M's long-winded gas bag wass not the one and the same (or similar). I would have advised him to flee the country.

Meera said...

haha..this made me laugh so hard..I'm living the life now..with flatmates who make the kitchen look like it's being carpet bombed with food..I totally understand!