I took a deep breath, grabbed my suitcase and punched my new key into the doorknob of room 569. I was 18 years old and this was the nervous moment when I would meet my first college roommate. Despite never having met this girl, I was fairly confident we would get along. We had both filled out an extensive questionnaire that asked many questions about our likes and dislikes and behaviors. We had been matched as roommates because, according to our questionnaires, we were quite similar.
The first thing I saw when I walked into my freshman dorm room was a small white television on the desk in the far right corner. The evening news was on, very loudly. The bed on the right side of the room had been slept in.
She had already moved in.
I put my suitcase on the bare mattress on the left and looked around at the room that wasn’t much larger than a suburban bedroom walk in closet. I walked over to the window on the opposite side of the room and gazed at the sidewalk, 5 stories down. My roommate’s side of the room looked like she had lived there for quite some time. Very fashionable clothes and piles of makeup and hair products were strewn everywhere. Pictures of, presumably, her friends, were haphazardly posted directly on the walls. The light was flashing on her answering machine. She had 22 messages.
I quickly reasoned that my new roommate was a messy, vain, clothes hound who had a very busy social life. This was nothing like me. I didn’t understand how a mismatch like this could have happened. After all, I had filled out the questionnaire!
The TV suddenly caught my attention. I heard intense, driving music and turned to look at the tiny television. Apparently, there was breaking news. An anchor woman stated that a man had been taken into custody and was being charged with the shockingly brutal rape and murder of a local college girl. While the authorities had only charged this man with the crimes against this one girl, they anticipated many more charges against other victims.
The city prosecutor spoke on the television, “This man is very, very bad. We’ve been looking for him for a long time. He is a brutal, violent and especially dangerous man who has absolutely no regard for human life. Apparently, some friends of his have been assisting him in avoiding capture but after particularly good police work and one lucky tip, we were able to apprehend him this morning. Our city is now a safer place.”
My stomach churned.
It was at that moment that I met my new roommate. She walked through the door of our dorm room and glanced at me. Her attention, however, was quickly diverted to the evil, dangerous man on the television.
She blurted out, somewhat inattentively, “Hi, my name is Shawna. I guess we’re roommates.”
And then she pointed to the television and the recently accused rapist and murderer that was on the screen. “Hey…that’s my friend James. What’s he doing on TV?”
Oh dear. This wasn’t on the questionnaire.
She knew the bad guy. He was her friend.
I would soon learn that Shawna had lots of scary friends. She had friends that would pound on the door at 2 in the morning screaming that they knew I was in there and they were going to mess me up “real bad”. She had friends that would sleep in my bed when I was gone because they needed to “hide somewhere…just for a little while.” And after those friends left, Shawna told me it would be a really good idea if I washed my bedding and all my clothes in really, really hot water and a little bleach…to kill the “little buggers” her friends had left behind.
I survived that first year of college, I survived Shawna and her scary friends and I even survived the “little buggers.” You can be assured however, that when I filled out the roommate questionnaire for my sophomore year, I was very careful to request someone who wasn’t so messy.
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The Slightly Exaggerated family has recently enjoyed the comedy of ventriloquist Jeff Dunham (www.jeffdunham.com) , s'mores made with the Hershey candy bar Cookies and Cream, and buckets of strawberries from the backyard patch. We highly recommend them all.