Toilet Paper Wars

What they don’t tell you about the many “joys” of living with someone is that, invariably, one person will always see themselves as “doing the most” despite actually doing the least. For Blair, that person was one slovenly roommate in particular: Brendan. It was the kind of name that immediately gave away the fact that this was probably the type of guy who couldn’t even be bothered to wipe himself properly. Fully. And it was against her better judgment in the first place to invite him into the four-bedroom apartment, but Tessa, the one who “vouched” for him insisted that because he would be occupying the basement, it would be practically like “he wasn’t even there.” Famous last words, of course—and Blair knew she would be the one to bear the brunt of the dissatisfaction. Yet, desperate times called for desperate measures, as the saying goes. And oh, how desperate it was. No one wanted to live in this godforsaken city anymore, least of all in an apartment on the corner of a truck route and across the street from a bar where misery masquerading as revelry never ceased. 

But, for whatever reason, Brendan was game, even at the obscene price of $1,600 a month for what amounted to a dark cavern without a toilet. There was a shower, but no toilet. Blair really should’ve seen the major issues coming based on that factor alone. Alas, she was too thrilled that they managed to secure someone before rent was due to give it as much thought as she should have. Their absentee roommate, Jane, certainly didn’t care—she was the roommate who was always at her boyfriend’s so nothing ever much bothered her. Except when she was asked to “chip in” for “communal” groceries that she was hardly ever there to partake of. Brendan, unfortunately, was always there. Just there. Although Blair also should have seen it as a red flag when Brendan told her he was a “professional” musician, it didn’t immediately compute that such a “job” would infer that he was actually home most of the time. Though, luckily, since “job” in this case was in quotation marks, it meant he was rarely rehearsing, merely stewing in his own filth and playing video games. Regardless, he still had to “come up for air” far too often. And Blair was quite accustomed to having the apartment to herself during the day, being the work-from-home freelancer of the “operation” long before COVID would ever hit. 

She relished these continuous blocks of time to herself. They were quiet, unburdened. There were even several occasions where she felt so free that she actually decided to work in the nude for the entire day. When Brendan came to roost, all of that changed. Blair realized that the first weekday of his presence. Initially, she was led to believe, for the first half of the morning, that things could go on as they always had. But, lo and behold, by 11:30 a.m., when Blair usually saw fit to make another fresh pot of coffee and take her much-deserved break in peace, Brendan bulldozed into the kitchen from the dark recesses of the stairway that led back into his lair. Groggy and disoriented, he stumbled toward the coffee maker, grabbed a mug that belonged to Jane (complete with the image of Jane from Daria on it) and proceeded to pour himself a cup as though Blair wasn’t even in the room. She struggled to keep her jaw from dropping as she watched on in horror—not that it really mattered, as Brendan clearly had absolutely no awareness of her. Only in bars sitting next to blonde, thin, big-titted Tessa did she ever feel this invisible. 

Then, finally, he glanced over. This was after guzzling down the entire contents of the mug and suddenly being resuscitated back to consciousness. “Oh, hey,” he said unabashed, despite being in nothing more than his dirty white boxers with an allover pattern of Sonic the Hedgehog. The entire display was embarrassing. Except Blair seemed to be the only one embarrassed on his behalf. She placed her hand on her temple and took a deep breath, wishing that it wasn’t already coming down to a confrontation so soon in his stay. “Uh, Brendan?”

“Sup?” he returned dazedly. Could it be possible that he had waked and baked? But no, surely he couldn’t have been sentient enough to bother… 

“Um, I was just hoping that…maybe next time you come up, you could put some clothes on. And also…” She looked protectively at Jane’s Jane Lane mug. “Maybe you could be more mindful of whose dishware you’re using.” 

Brendan glanced down at the mug. “Uh…yeah. Sure.” He then proceeded to pour more coffee into the same cup, made the gesture of cheersing her with it and concluded, “Thanks for the coffee,” before he retreated back into the basement where he would probably wank away the rest of the afternoon. It was enough to make Blair’s blood boil. 

Of course, that was nothing compared to what followed in the weeks to come as Blair soon noticed that Brendan’s bathroom habits were even more “rough-hewn” than his kitchen ones. It wasn’t just that he left the seat up coated in spurts of urine or that he somehow dropped globs of toothpaste that would dry out in the sink. It was that, no matter what, he would never replace the toilet paper. Even when it was down to one square, he would, in the ultimate bitch move, simply rip that square in half. Or worse, Blair imagined, not wipe his ass at all. She understood that men didn’t “technically” need to use toilet paper as frequently as pussy-packing women, but she got the sense that, because Brendan looked like a constant shitter, he was actually probably using even more than Blair and Tessa. 

Which is exactly why, on the third occasion in as many weeks that this happened, Blair was detecting an untenable pattern. This guy was a fuckin’ sloth with no fuckin’ manners and he needed to be taught a lesson. And so, the following morning, she decided it was about time to conduct an experiment. Remove the toilet paper from its dispenser and see what the trifling asshole would do next. Obviously, he couldn’t pull his “half a square” or even “a third of a square” gambit with nothing there. So what would that leave? To a normal person, it would mean actually getting up, opening the cabinet under the sink and replenishing the supply. Alas, it didn’t take Blair long to find out that Brendan was not a normal person at all. After spending roughly thirty minutes shitting out whatever disgusting food he had ordered from the China Palace down the street, he emerged looking serene. And, Blair also had to notice, markedly dirty. How could someone so effortlessly live in their own grime, their own stink? She had no idea why she let her desperation get the better of her when it came to allowing this man into her once hallowed apartment. She should have just insisted that all three women cover the missed share for the month until they found the most suitable roommate. Preferably not male. In fact, full-stop not a male. She knew that was sexist or whatever, but honestly, she didn’t care. Men were fucking gross. Creatures from the Black Lagoon. Except at least a lagoon might actually keep them somewhat bathed—clean-ish—therefore mitigating their odeur. But there was no mitigating the stench that Brendan had caused to permeate the entire household. It was like he didn’t notice he had his own personal shower at all. 

Instead, he seemed far more interested in the communal toilet that he didn’t feel enough of a sense of community to actually tend to in the most basic way possible: ensuring the toilet paper was always resupplied if it ran out. Blair refused to give up on her experiment, certain that, sooner or later, he would have to mention something about the “bathroom tissue” if she removed it completely from the space. Because, for all she knew, maybe he was just reaching into the cabinet and pulling out a few pieces for his various “defecation sessions” throughout the day. But if it wasn’t there at all, then absolutely—positively—he would have to remark upon it. Say something like, “Hey, ‘I think’ we’re out of toilet paper.” But no, to Blair’s continued shock, he still said nothing upon emerging from the salle de bains after she had confiscated all sources of paper. What the fuck was he using? His hand? And truly, that wouldn’t surprise her at all. 

When she brought up the entire situation to Tessa, who appeared totally oblivious (perhaps because blonde waifs are oblivious to all problems), she suggested that Blair just “talk to him” about it. What? “Just talk to him”? That was like suggesting she try to learn the language of the apes when it was they who ought to be learning from her. Tessa was, unfortunately, not going to be any help at all. She was going to have to call in more drastic reinforcements. That meant communicating to Jane that she needed her to spend an actual stint in the apartment. The caveat? That she bring her boyfriend along to infiltrate the space. This was a case of fighting fire with fire, and Blair knew that Jane’s boyfriend, Seb, could be just as frowzy and unhygienic. Maybe, by fighting Brendan back with a taste of his own medicine, something inside of him would click, and he would change his evil ways. 

So it was that Jane and Seb showed up on a rainy February evening, barreling through the door with their sacks of takeout that reeked of that generic fried food smell that could have been from any number of fast-food establishments near their abode (Checkers, Popeyes, take your pick). Blair greeted Seb with a cursory smile and said, “Long time no see.” Seb plopped down on the couch and answered, “Yeah, uh, Jane said she really wanted to be at her own place for a few days so…here we are…” He then pulled from one of his bags a video game console and an entanglement of wires. “Mind if I set this up?” Blair was screaming internally but told herself this would all be a small price to pay if it meant eradicating Brendan from the space. So she took a deep breath and replied, “Of course not. Make yourself at home.” 

And that’s precisely what Seb and Jane proceeded to do for several weeks as they exhibited their love for one another with abandon on the couch. Forcing Blair to incur scarring images seared into her mind whenever she wanted to go into the kitchen even for the most minor thing. Like her once-favorite practice of making coffee. Meanwhile, plans to make Brendan feel uncomfortable didn’t seem to be working. He and Seb, in fact, had bonded over their shared love of monotonous video games and were presently both stinking up the joint with their body odor and dubious food orders. Where, oh where, had Blair gone wrong? Seb was supposed to neutralize the threat, not add to it. 

Then, one morning, everything she had hoped for fell into place. Seb was in the bathroom, and had been for about the past twenty minutes when Brendan came running up the stairs in a furor. He needed to shit. Clearly, Seb had already usurped that opportunity. As Blair stood in the kitchen pouring her coffee, she calmly remarked that Seb was in the bathroom, and probably would be for quite some time. This sent Brendan into an even greater rage as he seethed, “One fucking toilet isn’t enough for this apartment! Especially now that you’ve got two extra people here.” 

Blair smiled sweetly and said, “Well, Bren, technically it’s just one extra person. You were always aware there were three other roommates. Jane has every right to be here.” 

He glared at her. “And Seb?” 

Blair shrugged. “I thought you two were getting along swimmingly.” 

At first, he looked as though he might get even angrier, redirecting all of it at her, but then, a kind of serenity washed over him. She couldn’t understand it until the unmistakable fetor of excrement filled the space. She looked down and saw that he had let a pool of diarrhea explode onto the floor behind him as he grinned, “How about swimming in this?” Before she could even process how to react, Seb emerged from the bathroom, stepped right in it and slipped and fell on the back of his head, knocking him unconscious. He was rushed to the emergency room shortly thereafter, covered in the shit of another man. In the interim, Brendan stoically went into the bathroom, and did not emerge until the police came several hours later to pry the door open. Although there was nothing in the lease he signed that expressly forbade shitting on the floor, Blair, Tessa and Jane were certain they were within their rights to kick him out after that. Particularly Jane, who resisted every urge to gag Brendan with a toilet paper roll as he moved his final box out. At last, the other roommates were on her side. Could see what she had been seeing all along. 

Regrettably, Brendan’s absence did not end the toilet paper wars. For soon after Brendan moved out, Seb decided to move in, feeling closer than ever to Jane in the wake of his “brush with death” (by merde). Blair tried to talk him out of it “subtly,” saying things like, “Yeah, this place is probably a big source of PTSD for you now.” But no, it wasn’t. It was his “home,” he said aloud, without even the slightest hint of a jest. As for the basement, the roommates decided to leave it unoccupied and wield it as a storage space for all their excess possessions. While it was almost unheard-of in New York to allow any empty areas of an apartment to go unrented (due to the nature of wanting to make money off every possible fucking thing because of how the city turned you into a finance-obsessed cunt), they decided, after Brendan, that they all needed a break and were willing to chip in the extra respective amounts to make that happen.

One morning, a few weeks after Seb had moved in completely, Blair walked out of her room to find him and Jane cuddling and kissing grotesquely (in their scant amount of clothing) on the sofa as she caught the end of Seb cooing, “Yeah, why haven’t we been living here all along?” Gone were those carefree days spent alone in the apartment, drinking coffee at her peaceful leisure and walking around in the buff. Worse still, Seb possessed the same behavioral habits with toilet paper as Brendan. But, at the bare minimum, Blair never actually had to see him when he wasn’t in the toilette. Maybe he hadn’t been such an annoying roommate after all, she mused as she shook her vag out and stood up to grab another new roll of paper from underneath the sink. 

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