When I set out to acquire housemates last spring, I decided up front that I’d prefer to live with men.
It wasn’t so much a desire to build a small harem of twenty-something males under my roof (though certainly that held some appeal). It was partly that I didn’t want pals. I wanted quiet residents content to nuke the occasional frozen pizza and then get the hell out of my kitchen without asking to bake scones together while braiding each other’s hair and dishing about boys.
I’ll admit it was a sexist notion. I’ll also admit I might have misjudged.
I knew up front that one of the housemates enjoyed cooking, but didn’t grasp the magnitude of it until the day he moved in. He spent several hours unloading an arsenal of kitchenware before whipping up a batch of brownies from scratch. Then he unpacked a giant television in the living room, a space I’d previously reserved for quiet reading and snuggling with the dog.
That was five months ago. I honestly can’t remember the last time my kitchen counter was visible beneath trays of baked goods, barbecue accessories, and three (yes, three) deep fryers. If I ever walk in and find my couch isn’t occupied by a barefoot southern boy watching war movies, I consider calling the police to report he’s been kidnapped.
There are times I mourn the loss of my clutter-free counters. There are times I miss my privacy. There are times I want to take a baseball bat to the constantly blaring television.
Monday night was such an occasion. I was tucked in my office trying hard to write, but having trouble concentrating over the blast of televised machine gun fire and the clatter of cookware.
I was on the brink of snapping when someone knocked on my office door.
“Yes?” I called through gritted teeth.
“Dinner. I made chicken fried steak.”
I emerged from my cave, bleary-eyed and a little dumbfounded. The counter held approximately six tons of chicken fried steak, along with homemade gravy and mashed potatoes.
Comfort food I didn’t know I needed.
“I’ll make salad,” I offered, feeling bad that only three minutes earlier, I’d been plotting to grind his television remote in the garbage disposal.
I poured a glass of wine for myself. My tee totaling housemate filled his water glass. Then we sat down and watched an episode of Scrubs on Netflix. We didn’t braid each other’s hair, but we did laugh a lot.
We also licked our plates when we were done eating.
Was it how I planned to spend my evening? Not really. Is this how I envisioned my life a year ago? Definitely not. Are there moments I want to stomp into the living room and scream that if he drops another piece of fried chicken on the couch or downloads another noisy slasher movie, I’ll superglue him to the sofa and set fire to the living room?
I’d better not answer that.
But I will say this – there’s something satisfying about knowing I can adapt to almost any situation. There’s something rewarding about learning to adjust to personalities and habits I never imagined I’d be living with in such close proximity.
And there’s something enjoyable about sitting back with a plate of artery-clogging, southern fried goodness and saying, “damn, this made my night.”
When’s the last time you had to adjust to something you never expected in your life or your household routine? How did you cope?
If it’s a struggle, allow me to suggest that gravy and chicken fried steak have a remarkable way of making everything all better.