Ruinmates

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Several weeks ago, I wrote a column featuring a list of questions that should be asked of potential roommates in order to weed out the freaks and losers from the normal people (“normal” being defined as “like me”). I got this idea from a questionnaire I filled out before I moved into the dorms as a freshman, in which they attempted to find out my living habits so I could be paired up with someone I didn’t like, in order to prepare me for my mission.

I suggested in that column that a similar questionnaire be used by all landlords at all BYU-approved housing so that bad roommates could be kept away. At the end of the column, I asked readers to e-mail me with suggestions for other questions that should be asked. About 130 additional questions were submitted, and the main thing I learned from them is that when in the privacy of their own apartments, girls are a lot grosser than any of us ever imagined.

I am not exaggerating when I say that 25 percent of the submissions I received are too disgusting to be printed, even in The Daily Universe (motto: “Nothing is Too Disgusting to be Printed”). And more than half of those disgusting entries came from women. They dealt with issues of flatulence (yes! Among women!), personal hygiene, bodily fluids and semi-fluids, and a host of other horrible things. I’m not saying the guys didn’t gross me out too, but you expect that sort of thing from guys. Women would have us believe they don’t even HAVE bodily functions, let alone deal with them in the manner described in some of my e-mail. [The gross entries can be found here. I’m not kidding, though. They ARE gross.]

Anyway, I also got some great suggestions that I CAN use. I’m not naming any of the contributors here because we don’t want to cause problems between them and the offending roommates. The exceptions here are Mike Noron and Matt Mossman, who wanted very much to have their names mentioned in the column, only the joke’s on them, because I misspelled both of them.

Several items were submitted by more than one person, suggesting an epidemic in some areas. I am proposing that these questions not only be asked of potential roommates, but that stipulations against them be added to the Honor Code. These include:

• “Do you insist upon listening to the same CD 12 times a day, every day?”

• “Do you require absolute silence in order to go to sleep, yet fail to be awakened by your 1,000-decibel alarm clock?” (A frequently mentioned corollary is the roommate who purposely sets his/her alarm for one hour before he/she intends to get up, thus giving his/her roommate the pleasure of hearing him/her hit the snooze button seven/eight times.)

• “Are you one of those people who doesn’t like a guy until one of your roommates expresses interest in him, and then all of a sudden you like him, too?”

The girls seemed VERY passionate on this subject.

For guys, the issue would be resolved thusly:

“Hey, you can’t ask her out. Didn’t you know I was going to ask her out?”
“Oh, OK. Sorry, dude.”
“No problem, bro.”
(Then they do one of those weird semi-handshakes like guys do, then one of them burps, and the matter is settled.)

Roommates’ dating habits are of major importance. Some observations:

• “Are you now, or do you plan on being, engaged to two women at the same time? Were you going to tell one, or both, that the marriage is off? Was the woman on the couch with you last week Contestant Number Three, or just a little something extra before you settle down?”

• “Is your idea of how to attract a man to stand in the middle of ward prayer and loudly complain about how nobody ever asks you out?”

• “Does your ‘social life’ consist of Internet chat rooms? Do you like to tie up the phone line for hours while you’re ‘chatting’ with your cyber friends, when others might be expecting calls from REAL friends?”

• “Do you insist on talking on the phone for a long period of time to your boyfriend, even though he only lives two doors down?”

• “Do you sleep all night, every night, on the living room floor with your girlfriend/fiancee?”

Then there are the minor — yet incredibly important — annoyances:

• “Do you insist on highlighting your entire textbook, instead of a few key phrases or sentences? Do you do this while your roommate tries to sleep, thus keeping her awake with the screech of your never-ending highlighter across the page?”

• “Do you insist on leaving the window open all night, even though it’s been snowing for the last two months?”

• “Do you, when rinsing and spitting after brushing your teeth, always spit one last time after turning the water off and then not rinse away the spittle?” (Only a girl could write that.)

• “Do you refuse to dry off the sink area after you use it, instead leaving huge pools of water all over the counter, some of them large enough to allow Olympic competition?”

And finally, a variety of miscellaneous random questions:

• “Do you have any life-sized posters of anyone that you feel it necessary to kiss several times throughout the day?”

• “Do you flip out if someone shortens your name? For example, if your name is Kimberly and someone calls you Kim, do you lecture them for five hours about how Kim is not your name, and why your parents decided not to call you that?”

• “Do you only buy food once a semester and manage to stay alive between shopping sprees by scrounging off your roommates’ food? Then do you brag about how fiscally responsible you are because you spend so little on food each month?”

• “Will I ever come home to find your homeless friend sleeping in my bed? If so, was he naked? If he wasn’t naked, was he wearing my clothes?”

• “Do you go through all of your roommates’ belongings, yet keep all yours securely boxed and padlocked?”

• “Do you like to stack up pyramids of empty Coke or Pepsi cans in the windows of the apartment, like frat kids do with beer cans at other universities?”

• “If you served a foreign mission, do you insist on blasting lousy music from that country all hours of the day?”

• “Do you think it is funny to speak to your roommates in the language you spoke on your mission, even though none of them speak it?”

• “Do you use the commitment pattern to deal with everything, including your roommate’s girlfriend leaving five minutes after curfew?”

• “Are you from California, and do you think California is so cool that you go on and on all the time about how cool it is, and about how it’s soooooo much better than Utah, and about how Utah stinks and California doesn’t? And if so, why didn’t you just stay there?”

Thank you all for sharing your frustrations with me. I hope you feel better. I need to go lie down.

Some of the submissions people gave me truly were horrible in terms of grossness and tastelessness. I don't doubt that any of them really happened; I'm just glad they didn't happen to ME. My thanks to all the people who sent in their suggestions, as dreadful as some of them were.

The two guys' names are actually Mike Norton and Matt Mosman. Some of their entries made it to the Gross List. I don't know what ever happened to Matt Mosman, but I know Mike Norton is still a faithful "Snide Remarks" reader a decade later.

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