please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


One day I was sitting around my house on Decatur Street, in Olympia, when I was still pretending to go to college. It was afternoon.
In my kitchen sat the dysfunctional freezer/refrigerator combo. Things in the fridge had a nasty tendency to freeze, and the freezer-I swear-was almost warm. So, if I wanted to keep my ice cream (only thing I wanted frozen anyway) cold, I had to put it on a nice, cold brick that had been in the freezer since I had moved in. Room enough for a pint of Ben and Jerry's, that's all.
Next to the brick was another brick, in a Ziploc bag. Next to that; a giant spoon that had also been there when I moved in, and did not belong to my housemate (who shared my first name, incidentally). The motor for the freezer must have been nearby, because as I say, it was irritatingly warm in there.
So, on this afternoon, there was a knock at the door. It's the guy from the next house over, who is forever peering through his blinds at us. He has some sort of relationship with the owner of the house I live in, which makes me like him even less, and feel a bit cheated that I have to live next door to his snoopy ass. He would occasionally get in his car, drive around the block (through the alley behind my home), park and go back inside.
His relationship with the owner-"Actually, I used to be married to her," he eventually said-belies the fact that he is not the landlord. That honor belongs to a nervous young lady at a property management outfit. But at the same time, I de facto had two landlords, and...Knock knock. Here he is on this afternoon, at my front door.
"Uh," he said, "do you have a brick in your freezer?"
For a minute, I just looked at him. Then I said, "Ah, yup. Are you talking about the one in the plastic bag, or the other one?"
"The other one?"
"Yeah. The one with no bag?"
"I don't know anything about that, but the one in the plastic bag is from Hoffman middle school, which burnt down. My daughter attended school there. Can I have it?"
"Uh, sure."
So I went and retrieved it. I said, "All this time I've been wondering about this thing...Every time I've thought about throwing it out, actually. So why was it in my freezer?"
He didn't really have an answer. More little comments about how the house really belonged to him followed.
Not long after this, my housemate, one of the biggest liars I've ever known, male division, was accused by a houseguest of ours (the other biggest liar I've ever known, female division) of trying to rape her. This had happened while I was out of town. She had initially moved in while sleeping with me, since she was inadequately bisexual for the house she lived in. It was a casual thing, and she told fantastic bedtime stories.
His story didn't hold much water with me, and besides, when he found out about the accusation, his first words should have been, "But I didn't do anything." His words instead were, "I'm ruined."
In the hyper-emotional gender politics of the early 'Nineties, in that most hyper-politicized of towns, this was tantamount to ruin, certainly. A Chinese foreign exchange student had been accused of date rape, the year before, and had basically been run out of town. Accusation amounted to conviction, and at a rally held on campus, the accusor took the stage as the emcee said, "This is not an accusor, this is a survivor!" Our erstwhile houseguest had waited until she found lodgings of her own, and had levied this complaint, not with the police, but with his band. Shrewd move.
Most people in that town at that time really hated me. During the summer of 1994, I had broken up four couples, as I had decided that nothing mattered any more, amongst other stupid reasons. The only person who believed me when I said that the accusor was every bit as bad of a liar as the accusee was my ex-girlfriend, who had become ex-ed when I admitted that I had cheated on her. With erstwhile houseguest.
Erstwhile Houseguest was still ostensibly friends with me, and I called her. I asked if I could come over, and hear her side of the story. What she told me he had said just didn't sound like him, and what she told me had happened sounded frankly fictional. I gave her a hug, and walked out of her life forever.
All this left was the flood of threatening phone calls I then had to field. Buncha meek little geek-boys, happy to have a chance at being a hero through the anonymous medium of the telephone. I answered one day to hear the voice of a guy I couldn't stand, and couldn't stand me, since I had dated one of his ex-girlfriends (the terror of tiny town, I tellya') that he had expected to reconcile with, upon his return to town several years down the road. He had clearly wanted to leave a threatening message without having the inconvenience of having to talk to an actual person.
"So Mark; you calling to threaten my housemate, too?"I quickly confronted him with the news that his behavior was illegal, and that I had taken to recording all incoming calls. He was used to being the moral judge of us all, so he had to work pretty hard to get back on his high horse. But get back up he did.
"Well...Um, I'm just calling to say that I disapprove of his behavior...And yours, too."
"Well, that just breaks my fucking heart, coming from a keen observer such as yourself. Make sure to tell all the rest of those cowards that if anything happens to my housemates, all of you have been recorded threatening him. Take care, now."
My housemate then fled north, to Sedro Wooley, where he lived in a nasty little trailer. I had no job, and no way to make rent, no friends to move in and help out financially. His mom had co-signed on the lease, and I received an angry phone call one morning from erstwhile housemate. I reminded him that he, rather than stay and fight these (he said) untrue allegations, had grabbed his nuts and ran. I was in no way financially beholden to him. I hung up, and never spoke to him again.
Nonetheless, my half of the rent was due, and I had no idea how to pay it. Sitting around in a greater slough of despond than I had been on the brick afternoon, on another afternoon, the mail came.
In my box, I found a check for exactly the amount that I needed for rent. It had been issued by an employer that I had ceased working for, some months previous. It was made out to me, but clearly was not mine, as whoever's check it was had made less, hourly, than I had. That particular company specialized in underpaying the mentally challenged to do janitorial work, around town, and had hired a bunch of us (the "normal" ones) when they got a large contract to do cleanup on a demolition site. In any case, they'd screwed me, and I left when they did.
So, I don't need to tell you, I cashed that check without another thought, paid my rent, and got the hell out.



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