A lot of people ask me, “Kathleen, what is your secret? How have you had such a successful relationship with your roommates for 25 years, longer than some marriages last?” Well, I’ll admit, for the first 18 years my roommates were legally obligated to live with me. And provide me with food, clothing and shelter, things that parents usually have to provide their children. But after that I swear it was all volunteer work for them. I like to credit our great roommate relationship with one thing: Good conversation. Communication is key to a good relationship. My roommates and I have lots of good conversations. Most of them center around food.
On any given Saturday you can find my roommates and me enjoying a delicious lunch at Pappy’s restaurant, a local burger place. Sometimes I get sick of eating there, but I’m not one to pass up a free meal so I always go. Every once in a while I’ll make a weak attempt to offer to pay, but my Dad always tells me I don’t have two pennies to rub together. As we are eating our burgers my Dad always says, “We won’t need a big dinner after this huh, Mo?” Talking to my mother. When he says this I usually have to respond with something like, “Excuse me, but it is literally 12:01pm, dinner is like 7 hours away. Some of us are in our early 20s and need to eat like normal people.” With my roommates, sometimes I feel like I am eating with a teenage girl who is way too concerned with her body figure (my dad) and a toddler (my mom).
My mom is a petite woman and eats very little, and sometimes she gets the hiccups during dinner and can’t finish her meal. A couple of weeks ago she decided she had a taste for an apple. Unfortunately for her, Mother Nature made apples too big for her to finish so she left half of the apple on the counter. It was there for several hours and it was kind of grossing me out the way it was starting to get brown so I finally said, “Mom, what’s going on with this apple here? Are you going to finish it or what?” To which she responded, “Yea, I’m just digesting a bit, I’m going to finish it later.” A couple more hours passed and the apple was still sitting on the counter. So I decided put it in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge. I notified her of the apple’s change in location and she thanked me and said she was going to eat it in a little bit. A couple of days passed and the apple was still in the fridge. I asked her if I should throw it out and she said, “No, leave it in there, I’m thinking about making apple bread so I’ll use it when I bake that.” After over a week, the half eaten apple was still in the fridge. I couldn’t help but laugh and said “Mom, looks like you are still in the brainstorming stage with this apple bread, huh? Are you going to leave the apple in the fridge a few more weeks and turn it into apple sauce?” She quickly responded, “Oh, you little smart ass! I am going to make the apple bread this weekend.” Well, that apple bread was never made. After a few more weeks I decided to finally throw the fermenting apple out.
As you can tell from the apple incident, my roommates and I only talk about important things. Another fruit that sparked so much conversation and excitement in our house were some mandarin oranges. I like to refer to the incident as “The Case of the Leaky Mandarin Oranges Container”. You see, there was a Tupperware container of mandarin oranges in the refrigerator and I noticed that it was leaking the juice out onto the shelf of the refrigerator. So I decided to bring it up to my parents while the 3 of us were having dinner.
Me: You guys, I think there might be a hole in the Tupperware container that the mandarin oranges are in. The shelf was all sticky, I had to clean it up.
Dad: Yea, you know I noticed that too. I wiped out the shelf the other day. It must be leaking.
Mom: Oh really? I didn’t notice it leaking at all. Are you sure there is a hole in the Tupperware container?
Me: Yes, we wouldn’t lie about something like that.
Well clearly Doubting Thomas/my mom did not believe us and decided she was going to perform a little experiment. She took the mandarin oranges out of the container and then filled it with water. Then she put the container on a plate to see if any of the water would leak out. (Please see picture below)
In just a few short minutes water started to leak from the container onto the plate, confirming my father and my suspicions that the Tupperware container was, in fact, leaking.
Mom: (Pointing to her experiment) Oh, look at that! Looks like there is a hole in the container after all!
Me (Laughing): Wow! Dad and I were right! You could have saved yourself the trouble of performing such an intricate experiment and just believed us when we told you the container was leaking.
Mom: Well I didn’t see it leak in the fridge so I just wanted to make sure before I threw out the Tupperware.
Me. That was a great experiment though, I think you missed your calling as a 6th grade science teacher!
Mom: Oh, you smart ass!
Other topics of conversation include “the size of muffins now a days”, shower heads, and of course, rats. But the one thing we talk about the most is probably ice cream. My roommates love their ice cream and we always have these ice cream bars called Cupid Bars in stock at the house. It’s basically vanilla ice cream with a hard outer shell of chocolate around it. The other day my dad and I were sitting in the tv room when my mom came in. I could immediately tell by the look on her face that something was wrong.
Mom: Kathleen, have you had a Cupid Bar yet?
Me: No, why?
Mom: Well, let me know when you have one, I want to talk to you about it after.
Me: Umm… ok, why?
Mom: I think the chocolate on the outside tastes odd. It’s like a different consistency or something. I think I am going to call and complain.
Dad: Yea Mo, I noticed something different about them too. Usually when you bite into them a thick piece of chocolate breaks off, like breaking up concrete with a jack hammer. On this batch of Cupid Bars the chocolate seems too soft.
Me: Well you better call soon because it seems like they are still being eaten pretty fast. I don’t really think we can eat them all and then call to complain about it.
Mom: You’re right, I am going to call tomorrow. Something is not right with them. You know me and my heightened taste buds. Remember when I was the only one who thought something was off with that bag of Tostitos chips and it turned out they were expired?
Well, Mo ended up being all talk because she never did end up calling on those Cupid Bars. And they were all eaten.
When we aren’t talking about food my dad is usually giving me a hard time about going out on the weekends. Since there is a bit of a generational gap between me and my roommates, we don’t always agree on what activities we consider fun. Sunday mornings we usually have a conversation like this:
Dad: Kathleen I went into your room this morning and it smelled like a brewery! I felt like I was getting drunk just by being in there!
Me: What were you doing in my room you creep?
Dad: I was opening the windows so Mom and I didn’t pass out from the fumes!
Me: Yea, yea, ok, sure. Just stay out of my room you weirdo.
I do have to be careful on my use of sarcastic remarks with my roommates since they are also my landlords. I like to keep them in check with my witty comments but I also don’t want to walk up the stairs to bed and find an eviction notice taped to my bedroom door.
The three of us may not always see eye to eye, but we make our living situation work. We aren’t afraid to speak our minds and we joke around a lot. Three is never a crowd in our house!