58: One Too Many Times

58: One Too Many Times

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles

One Too Many Times

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

“Don’t go in there!” my roommate Suzy whispered seconds before I was about to open my bedroom door.

“Not again?” Exasperated, I whispered to Suzy who was sitting on the couch. “It’s two in the afternoon!”

Suzy giggled, “I guess Rachel doesn’t care what time it is.”

“I need my portfolio case; it’s in my bedroom,” I said with a sigh, and joined Suzy on the couch.

“Knock on the door.”

“No! Who’s in there anyway? Jack? Rob? Mike?”

“It’s Mike.”

Suzy, Lauren, and I were high school friends. The three of us met Rachel at a party. She seemed nice enough, and we needed one more person to share the rent for a two-bedroom apartment. The four of us happily signed a one-year lease. Excited to be “roomies,” Rachel and I shared a room and Suzy and Lauren shared the other. Our apartment was perfect, close to the university, nicely furnished, and we even had a laundry room next door.

“This is ridiculous; my room has turned into Rachel’s brothel,” I told Suzy. I went into the kitchen to gather my feelings.

I yanked open the refrigerator door. Pickles, ketchup, and mayonnaise rattled as my anger began to grow. Should I keep giving up my room? No! I shouldn’t have to keep giving up my room! I pay rent! I slammed the peanut butter and jelly down on the counter.

It all started the first time I said “Yes” to Rachel’s request. A few months back, when I came home after studying in the library, Rachel was making spaghetti for a guy I had never seen before. They were drinking and laughing.

Rachel quickly ran over to me and whispered in my ear, “Do you mind sleeping on the couch tonight?”

My first thought was, yes, I did mind sleeping on the couch! But then, I thought I’m in college now. College life is notorious for this, when you have a roommate. I wanted to be cool, not a prude. After all, it was only one night.

“Sure,” I said.

I opened the peanut butter jar and tried to stay focused on making lunch. I dug some out with my knife. Smearing it on, I accidentally tore a big hole in the bread.

“Great,” I said, dipping the knife into the jelly.

Another galling thought. It was the night when I beat Rachel home after a party. I raced to my bed and felt immense satisfaction. If she brought home a guy tonight, they would have to sleep on the couch, not me. Early the next morning, I made my way to the bathroom and accidentally glanced at the couch. Hanging off of the couch was a bare-bottom rump. And it wasn’t Rachel’s. It belonged to some guy she met at a party. He had his leg swung over hers. The faded worn blanket they shared didn’t cover much of their skin. A creepy quiver came over me and I felt sick to my stomach. Oh my gosh, it was so gross — our nice apartment had turned into Rachel’s male playground. Unbelievable.

Deep in thought, I added too much jelly to the slice of bread and it slid off the crust. I had a sandwich disaster that I would have to clean up.

While I grabbed for the sponge, another moment replayed in my mind. It happened on a rainy day when I came home early from class. I didn’t think anyone was home until I heard a duet of giggles and manly laughter from the bathroom. As the shower ran, their voices got louder and louder. Before I knew it, they came frolicking out wrapped in towels, chasing each other into my room. I was speechless.

Rachel just giggled some more when she saw me and said, “Oh, I didn’t know you were home, Ande.”

All I could say was, “Yeah.”

I was fed up that my other roommates weren’t taking some of the brunt of Rachel’s monkey business.

The next time I heard, “Ande, don’t go in your room, Rachel’s brought home another guy,” I said, “One of you sleep on the couch instead of me!”

Suzy gave up her bed, but sleeping on her used sheets didn’t feel right to me. All I wanted was my own room and my own bed — that I paid rent for.

Rachel’s seemingly innocent request months ago, “Do you mind sleeping on the couch?” was a pile of you-know-what. One night turned into another and another. One boyfriend wasn’t enough for Rachel. Once a week, she brought home a new guy and made him dinner or drinks. The weeks added up, and before long she had a different guy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. How she managed to keep them straight in her mind was a mystery, not to mention they never knew about the others.

My appetite was gone. I scooped up my sloppy peanut butter and jelly sandwich into a squishy ball. With sticky fingers I threw it into the trash. Washing my hands, I thought of all the things I was going to tell Rachel. Enough was enough. No longer would I be a pushover to her skuzzy ways. My other roommates weren’t going to say a peep, that was obvious. It was all up to me. I was an adult and in college now, and if I didn’t speak up, no one else would.

After Rachel’s “man of the day” left, I met up with her in our bedroom.

“Rachel?”

“Yeah.”

“You know this is my room too?”

“Yeah, so?”

My anger boiled, I blurted, “So... I am sleeping in my bed from now on. If you want to sleep around with lots of guys you better go somewhere else.” After I spoke, I surprised myself.

She let out a huff and looked away. Then she said, “No worries. All you had to do was tell me.”

“Good.” My uneasy heart pounded. Finally, after many nights on the couch — why had I waited so long? On second thought, was it really a waste of time? Speaking up for myself was a lesson that I never learned in class. After my frustration and fury had subsided I realized I had been taught a valuable life lesson. Being Rachel’s roommate made me grow personally. Spending one too many times in shock over Rachel’s actions had helped me learn to speak my mind. I would never be the same again.

~Ande Cantini

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