After a failed
attempt at living with a friend my freshman year of college—it ended in
the kind of dorm-room drama about which they now write reality TV
shows—I decided my next roommate would be normal, or at least keep her
crazy contained. I ended up with Dana.
Dana was tall, blond,
beautiful and as Midwestern as they come. Her only flaw was an obsession
with both Major League Baseball and her boyfriend Matt. And where most
twentysomething girls with an unhealthy attachment to boyfriends could
be considered obnoxious, Dana was different. Her inability to leave
Matt’s side— he had a tendency to cheat on her when she did—was
something she kept clear of our apartment from the first night I met
paired randomly as roommates in our dorm our sophomore year and when I’d
asked her if she was seeing anyone in an attempt to make small talk,
she immediately stamped out any ideas I had of being overly exposed to
I have a boyfriend, but don’t worry, he won’t be staying over,” she
offered without explanation.
I’d never have asked for such an arrangement but after
meeting Matt, I was more than grateful for the offer. If I had to
describe him in one word, it would be obnoxious. Two words: obnoxious
asshole. The kind of guy so self-absorbed that he doesn’t bother to
delineate between a smile and a sneer as long as it means someone’s
looking. And I never understood what Dana saw in him, as his physical
appearance was as unappealing as his attitude. Secretly I suspected his
appeal centered somewhere around his abilities in the bedroom. She
wouldn’t be the first to exchange a few character flaws for a good fuck,
and who was I to fault her? Not that she ever talked about it or I ever
asked, in accordance with our apartment’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy.
I’d never so much as heard a peep out of Dana’s bedroom in the three
years we were roommates, but that all changed the last summer we lived
weeks of sleeping in sweat at Matt’s apartment had finally gotten to
the two of them, because they came seeking solace in our
air-conditioning one night in July. I’d heard them on the stairs as I
lay in bed enjoying my regular routine of falling asleep to a DVD
playing on my computer. Thinking nothing of it, I went back to watching
my stories before the noise on my laptop was replaced by something
louder in the room next to mine.
Like a jackhammer breaking concrete, the sound of the
headboard banging against the wall adjacent to mine made me freeze. And
as I heard what seemed to be him masturbating with her vagina, I
couldn’t help but feel sympathy pains centered somewhere below my belly
button; I was certain at that very moment Matt was impaling Dana’s
ovaries with his penis.
It wasn’t anywhere near the realm of rough sex either. Rather, it
bypassed the forceful and seemed to proceed directly to terrible. Sex
so terrible it should never be inflicted on someone else’s ears let
alone their body. I wasn’t sure if I should rescue her or just plug my
ears and pray for it to stop. I went with the latter and fortunately it
was over about three minutes later.
As the shock of what I’d just heard began to wear off
and I regained my senses, I went back to watching the screen and
resolved to pretend I’d slept through the entire thing.
Unfortunately those plans
were shot to shit when I realized I needed to retrieve a credit card
from my purse—if I didn’t pay my phone bill, the thing would be shut
off— and the bag was downstairs in our living room. All the carpet in
the world wasn’t going to mask the sound of me tiptoeing down the
stairs. My only hope was that their three-minute sexcapade had somehow
knocked them both unconscious—Dana from the pain of poor execution and
Matt from the sheer exhaustion of effort.
As stealthily as humanly possible, I snuck
downstairs, grabbed my wallet and made it back to my bedroom with the
kind of moves that could rival Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. But
it was all in vain, as the muffled voices from Dana’s bedroom let me
know that they had heard me; a point that was confirmed the next morning
when Matt left before the sun could think about rising.
Even in the face of
overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I decided to stick to my original
plan. When I saw Dana in our living room later that afternoon, I faked
amnesia, selective hearing loss and anything else I thought could
convince her I’d never heard a sound of her sadly lamentable sex life.
As I made my way through the awkward silence to the sofa and sat down, I
did my best to wipe any remnants of trauma from my face, turned to her
and asked the only question I knew to be a safe topic of discussion.
“How ’bout them