Most Of Us Have Roommates

Dance, Josh Smyth

Most of us have roommates, and most of us have roommates that we often just want to slap or snap at. Sometimes though, we find ourselves in the presence of a very special person with the profound ability to enrage and engage us.

I come home.

The kitchen looks like a war zone – dirty dishes everywhere; open cans of what is supposed to be chili, and the Family Pack nearby for purposes of community; socks strewn about the floor; a blaring TV reciting a play-by-play of this or that sporting event…and smack dab in the middle of this chaos, invading a two-person love seat, is The Blob with (albeit limited) speaking abilities.

This is the routine – it varies a little; sometimes Shake N’ Bake replaces the “chili”, and other times the real Chris Bosh takes a backseat to the virtual one. Thanks to the wonders of technological pervasiveness, I have the ability to witness the rejection of the natural world for the digitally enhanced and artificially mastered, in real time and in the discomfort of my own home!

If you will: allow me (briefly) the luxury of hypocritical immunity.

Maybe I should give The Blob a little room to maneuver; we all kind of live on this day-to-day “business as usual” mandate, right? Yet, because of this, isn’t it somewhat rational and necessary to question the merits of Darwin’s arguments about survival of the fittest? If this is true, our status as “developed” seems to be contributing to a bulging waistline rather than a trim appearance. Instead, I think either our status as “fit” for survival is automatic now, or we’ve managed to radically redefine the essence of “fitness”. No? Well, perhaps we’re clever and think that it is our political institutions that are fit, and thus we as individuals are allowed to balloon out of shape, because Mama Welfare State will coddle and protect us. Hmm, I thought the French Revolution was intended to teach us fraternity, not maternity.

Yet, consider that maybe our current situation is similar to that of an aged All-Star: prime in his day, athletic and trim, strategic and confident; today he is slow and flabby, yet still enjoys the decadent lifestyle of his youth. Is this really survival of the fittest, or is it some bizarre survival of the legacy of fitness? Maybe you’re thinking: “Okay, but the rich All-Star does not represent me, the Average Joe – or whoops! Where’s my gender sensitivity – Average Joanne.” (Record scratching noise) You’re right! Yet, most of us live in the throes of middle-class comfort, aspiring to live like the All-Star despite the fact that we neither require it, nor can afford it. If the Average American is middle-class, and also lives in relatively high debt, I’d say that middle-class is a dangerous place to be. We’re comfortable, but demand to be more so; we’re neither rich nor poor, and never give more than we can afford to charity. Still, with our ear glued to the phone with creditors, we seem to manage to spend more than we can afford. Pfft! Well we’re not greedy, just smart! We’re skeptical of “charitable” organizations – who knows where the money goes? Yet, what exactly are we so skeptical of? Ironically, we are suspicious of their capitalist drive, and even in charity, we want to see the most bang for our buck.

We are the snotty middle child; no one pays attention to us. Mom, you’re not watching! It seems Mom’s too busy trying to feed our little brother Haiti, and keeping an eye on those restless munchkins, Cuba and Venezuela. Mom also has to make sure that she pays due attention to our demanding older brothers, America and China. We’re just so oppressed and depressed. Teary-eyed, we make a Cheez Whiz sandwich and turn on Survivor. We spend half our lives in front of computers and TVs, and another two thirds of it nodding politely, buying decorative pillows, and waiting in line. Really, we’re very busy; too busy to get involved politically, socially, or even communally. Sure Bob’s our next-door neighbor, but do we really need to get to know him? So, we suck it up, munch on our processed cheese and bread, and realize that mom is never going to watch.

Rejected and dejected, and for the sake of variety, we let the TV talk to itself and turn to our friendly, giving pals Wal-Mart, Nike – or wait! We’re becoming better and wiser consumers; surely Gap or Lulu Lemon don’t manufacture their clothing in big factories in the developing world. Regardless, when all else fails, we shop. We do it because we decide that a new pair of jeans and a nice bland and design-less Banana Republic sweater will make us look better, and thus naturally, make us feel better. Yet, this is temporary. We’re greedy little buggers, and up rises the familiar notion of the bang for the buck. We don’t want to pay our workers according to our rules and regulations, because we don’t want to purchase these products at “outrageous” costs. So, instead, we open factories beneath us and employ our little brother – how good of us! – paying him much less and working him much more, to produce the same products. Since we are the whiny middle child, we think it’s somehow okay to overwork the little ones and demonize the big boys. We’re helping out sort of, right? As for our older brother, the narcissistic fucker, he’s the one with the big bucks; let him change the world.

No more thinking.

I’m going to sleep. It’s 1:38am on a Tuesday night. Six hours after returning home, the TV is still blaring, another can of chili has been opened, rows and rows of Girl Guide mint chocolate cookies devoured, and the box is left to socialize with the socks on the floor. The noise is not unbearable, but thoroughly irritating. In the living room: the main light is on, the stove light is on, the bathroom light and fan are collectively on, and no one is around. I almost don’t care anymore. Instead, I adopt a nice little routine, and am always reminded that our survival is largely based on our ability to endlessly and constantly consume without reason. We live in comfort because we have no qualms with demanding that others exert themselves, so that we will never have to. In that case, maybe I should stop my bellyaching and extend a danke schon to Herr Blöb for my fabulous lifestyle.

Morning: wake, shower, dress, and I’m off to the local Starbucks to do my part.