I had just moved to San Diego from Maine. My new roommate, who I’ll call Ally, was anxious to show me around. It was my first time on the West Coast and I was excited to explore.
On my second night here, Ally suggested we go downtown for drinks. She asked me to drive, which I thought was weird since I didn’t know my way around, and I planned on drinking, but whatever. We decided on a random place for drinks and took a seat outside. About twenty minutes of conversation and people watching later, she asked if I had fifty dollars to loan her. I just looked at her. When I came out of my shock I reminded her (maybe she had forgotten already) that I just moved and still needed to find a job. She tried to reassure me she would pay me right back. The answer was still no.
We went out a few more times when I realized she was using me as a pick-up strategy. Her favorite opening line was, “This is my best friend, Becky. She just drove out here from Maine all by herself.” The emphasis was odd to me because I didn’t think it was such a big deal. Also odd was that she referred to me as her best friend. Like, no.
After she introduced me as this courageous person who braved the wild, the guy who she had introduced me to would start talking. To me. Not her. About my travel. Ally would slowly get real quiet, looking around uninterested, and eventually, start giving me the evil eye.
It was from her that I first learned of the ‘east coast attitude’ and according to her, I had it. It took me a while to figure out that it was my sarcasm she was referencing. Ally would take me seriously and figured everyone else did, so she’d try to explain me to people by saying, “Don’t mind her, she has the east coast attitude.”
After hearing this a couple of times, I asked her how far east she had traveled. With a snap in her neck and defiance in her eyes, she proclaimed, “I grew up in Palm Springs.”
Maine, Palm Springs. What the fuck did I know?
One night, Ally begged me to go with her to a local bar where she was meeting a guy from online. She didn’t want to go alone and wanted me there to feel safer. She tried to entice me by saying he was bringing a friend, and because they were Marines, they were hot.
I really, really didn’t want to go, but out of sick curiosity, I decided I wanted to see the trainwreck just enough to relent.
As we were getting ready, she knocks on my bedroom door. “I haven’t done laundry. Can I borrow a pair of pants?”
“Yeah, sure.” I handed her a pair of pants.
A few seconds later there came another knock on my door.
“Do you have any underwear I could borrow?”
No way. No way was she asking to borrow my underwear.
I felt stuck.
What was the socially correct response to that? If I said no, she would go without underwear and she was already wearing my pants. If I said yes, I could never wear my underwear again and it felt rude that she was essentially asking me to give up a pair of underwear I didn’t want to give up.
Too much time was passing. I had to respond.
“Uhm, sure. Here.” I handed her a pair of underwear.
“Thanks! I promise I’ll do laundry this weekend.” She scuttled off to her bedroom to dress.
We arrived on time but had to wait for them to be really late. Yes, you read that right. Two military guys managed to be an hour late.
Once they arrived, Ally seemed to like her date well enough, but his friend. Oh my. He had no personality and barely spoke. He didn’t look bored or upset or anything. He was just a lump on a log of a person. I did all the talking for two hours when Ally came up to me to say she had invited them both over to our place. I told her I wasn’t comfortable, but to hell with that cause she told them to follow us back. So much for safety.
I eventually fell asleep in the hammock on the patio where we were hanging out. I would have rather stayed in the hammock all night but lump-on-a-log carried me to my room. I wasn’t okay with that, either.
I was left alone to sleep peacefully for a while before my door opened. Opening my eyes, I saw Ally’s drunken face looming over me, giving me the same death stare she had given me for months whenever guys were more interested in my travel story than her.
“You bitch.” She seethed. “You left me alone with those guys.”
I just stared at her wondering if she was for real. As in, was this the real Ally in physical form, blaming me for making her hang out with guys she insisted on bringing home? Did she miss the part where I fell asleep (I mean, the company I was forced to have probably put me to sleep) and was brought to my room? At what point was the night to end? Did she really not see her part in any of this? So many questions.
I closed my eyes.
The next time I opened my eyes I was alone in my room, thankfully. Out in the livingroom, Ally spoke to me with a thick sarcasm that would have made any Mainer proud and thanked me for leaving her alone with the guys.
I couldn’t respond.
I just decided that I was done hanging out with her. I mean, I still feel lucky that nothing happened to us.
A few days later she handed me my underwear. “I washed them for you. Thanks again.” I politely took them from her hand, trying not to appear disgusted.
“Okay. No problem.”
Nope. Couldn’t do it. I didn’t care if she had washed them in iodine and acid with a chlorine rinse. That underwear went in the trash.
I also gave my noticed and moved out the next month.