Monday, October 3, 2011

Real-Life Felix Unger Doesn't Find Humor In Odd Coupling

Dear Tazi-Kat:

Three months ago, my best friend broke up with his live-in girlfriend, and needed to find a new place to live (she got the apartment, obviously).  Around the same time, my roommate moved back home without notice, so we thought it was a great idea for us to be roommates.  It was a huge mistake, Mr. Kat.  We are like the characters on that old TV show
The Odd Couple, expect that nobody is laughing and our problems aren’t resolved after half an hour.  When I say the man is a slob I am putting it nicely.  

I read your recent column about the sloppy teenager, and I understand what you mean when you say there is a difference between “messy” and “dirty”.  The man is dirty.  His laundry is strewn across the house, his empty beer cans would cover every table and countertop if I didn’t throw them away, and I recently had to call the exterminator for a bug problem that I never had before he moved in with me.  To look at the guy, you would never guess he lived like a pig.  He is always well-dressed and clean shaven, and the inside of his car is immaculate.  

I want to ask him to leave, but the guy is still my best friend – although I am not sure how long that will last if he continues to live here.  Do you have any advice for two guys who can’t seem to make the roommate thing work, Tazi?

That Felix Guy

Dear Felix:

Did you know that the name "Felix" is based on the Latin word for "happy go lucky"?  Ironically, it sounds as though you are the furtherest thing from happy-go-lucky at the moment, because you are discovering an important truth in life: Just because you are best friends does not mean you will make good roommates.  What is worse, all this familiarity can breed contempt, as it appears to be doing in your situation.  I can see your aggravation about your roommate’s slovenly lifestyle; and I have to ask: Can he see it, too?  More importantly, is he just as put-out over your desire for clean? 

This is one of those times that being best friends can be helpful.  Best friends can talk about anything, even the uncomfortable subjects.  You need to catch your buddy at a neutral time – not right after you have tripped over his dirty underwear for the umpteenth time – and tell him that the “roommate thing” is not working out as well as you had planned.  Point out the obvious: That your different standards of clean are driving you crazy, and that you don’t want your friendship to suffer because of it.  Tell him you will help him look for a new place; and that you will help him move; but that he has to do just that: move.  If you have any mutual friends with similar cleaning habits as your best friend, suggest that they might make for a better roommate situation than the two of you sharing space.  Do not let him convince you that he can change if you give him the chance.  All this will do is delay the inevitable.

The best part of this bad situation is that three months is not a long enough time to make yourself at home anywhere; it is more of a temp-to-perm trial period.  If it is obvious to you that after three months the situation is not working, than now is the time to end it – before it ends your friendship, as you fear it might.


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