Offbeat Academia: How to test a new roomie

Awkward moments shape roommate friendships or simply create weird tensions.

Living with other people besides your family for the first time can make you pretty anxious.
I mean, you used to wait for your brother to get home so you could show him what you left in the toilet before you flushed it. Now, that’s just weird; you even turn on the water while you’re going to the bathroom. It’s especially difficult for girls, I know.

Just kidding. Girls don’t poop.

But seriously, I had a rough time adjusting to having another person in my room. I have weird habits, and those are the hardest to quit.

Most of the time, my roommate was napping during the day while I did work at my desk. Usually after an hour or so, I forgot she was there. This is the Sarah caught on hidden camera.

First, I’ll start drumming with my pen. Then it turns into whistling through the pen cap. All of a sudden I’m humming some made-up tune and playing the “bilabial fricative” as the late George Carlin would call it. For those of you not hip enough to have heard the hero’s performance Class Clown from 1972 (I’ve got it on cassette!), the bilabial fricative referred to the noise you make with your mouth called a raspberry.

So imagine this: I’m sitting at my desk, forcing air through my lips with my tongue out, like an idiot, humming a song no one has ever heard before. I know you’re saying, “But Sarah, my roommate walked in on me trimming my pubes.” You see, everyone understands that you have to stay fresh. But no one wants an annoying, imbecile roommate while they’re trying to sleep.

However, you really should work out your schedule so that you can have allotted naked time. This time is special and good for everyone. And I’m talking private naked time. Take a break, shut the door and just walk about your room, sorting clothes, writing a paper or eating a bagel.

I do caution you: make sure your roommate’s not going to come back on a whim. There was one weekend where I was close to positive my roommate had left for the weekend. So when I came back on Saturday morning after sleeping over at a party, sweaty and stinky from the shenanigans the night before and the bike ride home, I unbuttoned my pants and threw off my shirt and sat at my desk airing out the unshaven and stale crannies that are my armpits.

She walked in, never having left at all, to find me in all my glory. Now I had two choices: make it weird or pretend like it wasn’t at all.

I chose the latter. I didn’t suck it in. I didn’t hastily pull a shirt over my head. I turned my head, and said, “Hey, sorry.”

So maybe you want to make a point to be gross. Be real. Test your roommate’s boundaries. Leave the bathroom door open. If they pass, you’ll be best friends for life.

If not, don’t worry; it’ll only be awkward for the next several months.

Sarah Sanders can be reached at

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