And Still I Prefer to Shit in Public

Having roommates at a certain age in New York is a lot with having sex with someone you’ll never see again: you don’t really know anything about them and you just want to avoid them. This sentiment reaches an especial crescendo once you hit a certain age and/or have been dealing with other people’s highly vexing personalities (otherwise known as: all personalities are annoying when you’re forced to be confined with them) for more than five years and yet, you’re still only twenty-three but moved to New York for college. It is, hands down, the most roommate-centric city on the planet, in addition to being the place that John Steinbeck once described as “an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous. But there is one thing about it―once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.”  And yet, it’s just about nearly impossible to call any apartment your home as you must share it with roughly three to five other people. Your “personal stamp” tends to get lost in the shuffle amid all these other identities and energies.

This cauldron of psyches was starting to weigh on Milo Denton around the time of his fifth apartment transition in one year; he couldn’t say what number apartment it was in total after seven years spent shuffling back in forth between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. At twenty-seven years old, he was beginning to push the age of acceptability―at least by females of his own age’s standards―when it came to inhabiting the same space as other people. The last roommate situation he was in ended abruptly when the fagula (side bar: fagula [fag-yoo-luh], inspired by the word/person Dracula, is a particular mutant strain of gay man that lives up to all the bitchy cliches and then some) he lived with went a little bit cuckoo over the fact that Milo had no interest in striking up a friendship with him just because they lived together. In fact, Milo was a firm believer in treating “roommateship” as any business contract. Agree to a set of rules pre-established, abide by them and move on at the time the terms of the contract, i.e. the lease, expire. There really doesn’t need to be anymore to living with a person than that. Indeed, because of how much and how easily one is affected by the temperaments of strangers in New York, all one tends to want when they arrive back at their so-called home is total and complete silence, sheer non-communication. It’s the only way to recalibrate in such a way as to maintain a baseline level of sanity. Milo was not permitted this simple and necessary courtesy, what was apparently a luxury while living with Montgomery, who occasionally went by Monty when it came to his “dating” app profiles. And yes, he definitely played into the “Full Monty” nickname with nearly nude photos of himself that showed just enough from the waist up. Milo tried his best not to wince when he was just trying to make a snack in the kitchen and Montgomery would sidle up to him to gush about the latest picture he had uploaded or the latest guy he was planning to hook up with. This was his comeuppance for continuing to rely on Craig’s List as his cohabitation resource. He felt there should be some sort of highly elaborate roommate matchup company that put dating services of yore to shame. But there was nothing like that, no vetting process thorough enough to weed out all the crazies, of which there were perhaps too many to sift through in order to find one semi non-psycho.

When Montgomery’s comportment started bordering on jealous rage in response to Milo never being home primarily to avoid Montgomery, he knew it was time to cut the cord. His job as a copywriter for some gratuitously misogynistic tequila company at least gave him plenty of reason to always be gone. It also allowed him the ability to take lengthy and obscene shits in public places throughout Midtown, as well as the bathroom in his own office building. After so many years spent living with others in New York, you soon realize that going to the bathroom freely and at your own leisure is a comfort on par with having a gold-plated toilette. If you could afford one of those, then you could probably definitely afford to live alone and shit on your own time without worrying that 1) the bathroom is occupied 2) one of your roommates can hear you doing it and 3) you’ve taken too much time emptying the contents of your bowel so as to end up aggravating the others’ schedule/need for release.

No, there is no more delicate enterprise than shitting in a shared environment. That’s why, this time around, in his new living quarters with four other humans―two female, two male―Milo did something he never thought he would be capable of: he invested in a bedpan. Sure, it sounds sick, but so does kidney removal from holding one’s piss for too long. He was done being at the mercy of other people’s goddamn erratic bathroom schedule. The passive aggressive rattling of the door handle as though pretending he didn’t know someone was in there already. Further, he wanted to be able to secure as little interaction with his roommates as possible, and the only reason he would ever have to encounter them was on the way to the bathroom. With a bedpan, “eliminating” was seamless, even if it did attract certain insects into his area when he didn’t empty it out quickly enough. In between this and public bathroom use, Milo had worked out a foolproof system for never having to engage with anyone in his apartment, for face washing, teeth brushing and showering were done at the gym.

Many years later, when Milo had discovered the next best solution to living alone in New York―securing a significant other to move in with―he told his girlfriend, Marie, when she asked why he never seemed to leave any trace of himself―odor-wise―in the bathroom, “I’m just used to having to do it outside of the apartment. And still I prefer to shit in public, it’s conditioning from too many years of living in this town.” Luckily, he never did get too comfortable―Marie ended up breaking up with him and moving out before the lease was up so that he had to find a new roommate on Craig’s List.

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