THE CREATIVE BULLIES
I’VE HAD ABOUT THIRTY ROOMMATES—including three classically trained opera singers—but none of them were as horrible as my high school experience. In my junior and senior years, I went to a residential arts school to study creative writing. My roommate was a girl I’d met during a summer program, also for creative writing, at the same school. It was fine at first, but it didn’t take too long for things to go really, really bad.
My school was a very isolated environment, with two hundred kids living under one roof. There were only about fifteen people in the creative writing department, and you saw everyone for hours every day. I can’t remember when it all started falling apart, but suddenly, I was the target of a group of eight girls—and my roommate was one of the ringleaders. Art school kids aren’t just mean, they’re creatively mean. They’re almost better at assessing your character and the things that will bother you than kids at a typical high school. I think they chose to bully me because I was easy to pick on—all my clothes matched, like a big pink blazer with matching pearl earrings. It was clear that I was bothered by their bullying and didn’t stick up for myself. That made it more fun for them to torture me. They were mean to others as well, but I think my suffering was unique because of the close proximity.
The worst part was, I had to see these girls every day. It was especially hard during workshop time, because we writers were always sharing personal stories, and I knew they’d be able to use my stories against me. And my roommate was a compulsive liar—we took a poetry class and she told me that she made up things that had never happened to her. She once wrote a poem about how, when she was cast as a princess in elementary school, someone said, “How could there be a black princess?” Everyone else thought it was such a moving poem, but it was all made up.
The girls did things like taking an unflattering photo of me and setting it as the background on the school computers. When I went home for the weekend to see my parents, my roommate and her friends stole my food, slept in my bed, and went through my makeup. I found swipes of their fingers in my lip gloss and eyeshadow. They also started stealing things from me, like one shoe but not the other. They wore my clothing when they went downtown, and then took photos and put them on Myspace for me to see while I was home. When I was in the shower, they went on my computer and combed through my instant messages and sent them around to one another.
By the end of the semester, my mom was really upset. She spoke to the people in charge of residential life and told them my roommate was stealing and breaking my things. Their best suggestion was to take photos of my room before I left for the weekend, and they said, “If anything has been disturbed, we’ll handle the situation when you get back.” As soon as I went home, my roommate wrote on her LiveJournal, “It’s too bad my horrible roommate’s Bose speakers went missing.” My mom read this and called the school, and of course the speakers hadn’t been touched—they were messing around with me. I went to my writing teachers—in art school, they’re almost like your parents because you see them so much—and they told me to tough it out. “Girls are mea
THE SECOND ENTRY IN THE PICADOR TRUE TALES SERIES: ONE OF LIFE'S TRICKIEST RITES OF PASSAGE COLLECTED INTO AN UNFORGETTABLE VOLUME OF STORIES
The fraught relationship between roommates is a true cultural obsession. Shows like Friends, The Golden Girls, The Odd Couple, and New Girl have held us rapt for decades, simultaneously delighting and disconcerting us with their depictions of mismatched couples’ cringe-worthy awkwardness and against-all-odds friendship. Maybe it’s that uniquely unnatural experience of living with a total stranger that ignites our curiosity, or just that almost all of us, for better or worse, have had one of our own.
In Stephanie Wu's The Roommates, people of all ages reveal their disastrous, hilarious, and sometimes moving stories of making their best friend for life or lifelong nemesis. Learn what it’s like to share a room in places as unusual as a thirty-person beach house, a billionaire’s yacht, a reality show mansion, and a retirement hotel, and those as familiar as sleepaway camps, boarding schools, and college dorms. Put down your roommate’s dirty dishes and passive-aggressive Post-it’s for this eye-opening glimpse into how people live together in the modern age.
You’ll meet: The Amateur Taxidermist ∙ The Alcoholic Genius ∙ The Kleptomaniac ∙ The Rent Stiffer ∙ The Naked Nanna ∙ The Serial Roommate ∙ The Top Chef ∙ The Recovered Addict ∙ The Russian Missionary ∙ The Obsessive Lesbian ∙ The Impersonator ∙ The Party Poopers...and many more!