It’s said that you can’t change a person who doesn’t want to change. I call bullshit.
And it is sometimes…messy.
I did a study abroad in London during my junior year as an undergrad. Funny because it really wasn’t a study “abroad” for me as I’d been attending school in Georgia, and my family was actually stationed in the U.K. at the time. In retrospect, I suppose my “study abroad” lasted three years in Georgia. Anyway, none of that’s particularly important. I’m having one of those days when I’m thinking about people I’d not thought about in a very long time. One of those moments where one goes, “Why the hell did that person come up just now?” And I’ve no idea.
So the person who’d inexplicably popped into my head today…She was one of my four other flatmates during my second term in London. The first bunch — in an entirely different flat — had been so blandly unforgettable. Well…okay…with the exception of my thoroughly insane roommate there, who’d proudly proclaimed to me during my first afternoon there that she was “super rich” because she’d won a lawsuit against a hospital chain for having hired the drunkard surgeon who’d botched her leg surgery and had left her crippled for life. She was also the most batshit shopaholic fashion hoarder I’d ever encountered. Our tiny bedroom barely held two twin beds and a dresser in between them. My first night there, I got in only to face the entire space covered…and I mean COVERED…in mountains upon mountains of clothes and shoes and piles upon piles of shopping bags. I spent a good several hours with my then boyfriend (now ex-h) trying to FIND my bed. I realize this is verging on the absurdly hyperbolic, but I’m not exaggerating much. When we finally cleared out some spots in the room and had found my bed, the only “space” I really had to call my own was the bed surface, a bit of stained floor in front of my bed for my suitcase, and a sliver of space in the closet we had to share, a space that initially had seemed odd in that my nutjob roommate hadn’t taken it over as well. Upon closer inspection, however, we saw the dark, soggy patch of mold there on the wall, and the closer we got, the smell — the damp, swamp-stench of it — grew more evident. In the end, I spent the first term living out of my suitcase because that was all I could do.
But, again, this entry isn’t about that particular Ms. Utter Nutter flatmate.
My flatmates during my second term, and the flat itself, were much more memorable to me. The flat was small and modern-ugly, but there was no mold. Just a few mysterious stains on the carpeting that we may or may not have caused. If there were any signs of breaking the rules of the building, since the school owned and ran it, the the landlady would have us evicted…rules like no guests after 10pm, no smoking, no pets, no noise after 10pm. Alcohol was fine if we were of age and didn’t break the noise regulation. Not too unreasonable. My flatmates themselves were a nice bunch. My roommate was a cool-headed business major from Boston with a sharp sense of humor. It helped that she and I had much in common and that included our disgust with shopaholics and mutual annoyances about issues with the school and its student and faculty body. Our neighbors sharing the bedroom next to ours had an en-suite bathroom – tiny but feasible for them. One was from New York, the other from Puerto Rico (Grand Duchess, who played a big role in what was to come). The sole private room was temporarily rented by another girl from New York, but she was quickly replaced by someone else.
Before I get to the new flatmate, I must mention the Grand Duchess. She was another type with a ridiculous amount of money at her disposal. Rich students often fascinated me in that they seemed so out of place, so alien, with their cavalier spending habits, like it was no big deal. Whenever I asked the Grand Duchess about her money (and, no, I was never shy about it, even though I’d been taught to be), she’d pretend as if I’d just asked her something entirely irrelevant, changing the topic so fluidly. Whenever she went over her platinum credit card limit, she’d make a quick call on her brick of a cell phone (this was the ’90s), and the cash-fairy relative on the other end of the line would instantly wave her fairy wand, immediately restoring all of that credit once again. If Grand Duchess invited any of us to go out with her, we eventually learned not to say “no” because she became our very own cash-fairy relative of sorts. Whenever we went out with her, the tab was already “mysteriously” paid. Eventually though, classwork caught up with the more responsible of us, and our nights out exploring the magnificent city became long nights in bitching about studying and class projects.
One day, solo flatmate was suddenly gone, and another had taken her place. I’d heard we were getting someone new; I just wasn’t quite prepared for the maelstrom that was about to sink the flat, and it would, in the end, be our fault…somewhat.
Princess New Delhi had already made herself quite comfortable in the flat with her Louis Vuitton steamer trunk and fancy luggage. Like the Grand Duchess, the Princess was apparently from an obscenely wealthy family, a daughter of a dignitary of some sort (and now the titles make a little more sense, right?). Her family wasn’t keen on their daughter having a career or even serious interests unless she was first well-educated AND then, of course, well-married. She insisted she was studying “fashion merchandising,” but I’ve no idea, really. Anyway, she seemed to CONSUME the flat with her royal presence. The heady aromas of her cooking spices would permeate the flat every damned day. Our clothes would be heavily perfumed with it and cling to us like an onion musk, during the soggy London afternoons. She’d take over the kitchen/living/and dining area of the flat with her heavy books, shopping bags, and coppery cookware.
My roommate and I had been warned numerous times by the Princess that we were not to have our boyfriends over whenever she was home after dinner. The Grand Duchess was the exception to this condition because the men, the entourage, she brought over, were always “interesting” (meaning they were all wealthy, stupid, jacket-and-tie Patrick Bateman types with nice cars). The flock of them would be over for “aperitifs” before they headed out to some swanky asshole club well until dawn. When the Princess caught my own boyfriend coming out of the bathroom one evening, she resorted to the old “I’m going to call the resident manager AND the landlady if he doesn’t leave now” form of blackmail. This, even though the Grand Duchess had a guy sleeping on our sofa in the living room area, of course, which I pointed out to her. It shut her up for the time being, but her sing-songy, high-pitched voice kept up with the complaints all day, every day.
It was around that time when my roommate and I had had it, so we took it upon ourselves to concoct some sort of revenge. Now, we weren’t really “revenge” kinds of girls whatsoever. Oh, we enjoyed the occasional practical joke or two — a few crank calls for crappy food delivery for the Princess once in awhile, for example. However, the thought that we were catering to the very person who had taken over the whole of our community space — never mind our shared bathroom with all of her hoity toity hair products, imported body scrubs and facial creams, egg white soaps, oils, and potions — wasn’t something particularly appealing considering we’d be living there for 12 more weeks.
So we took what we thought was the appropriately apt route to revenge — we took it upon ourselves to turn her royal high and mightiness into one of us. The horror, right? She was corruptible, after all. We’d introduce her to the normalcy of peer pressure, college style.
Of course, we got her very very drunk, and that would be the beginning of the end.
It wasn’t hard. She’d sneered at our makeshift mini-bar before, a bookshelf corner with a pretty array of staggered bottles of some of the most disgusting spirits concocted by people with no taste buds. We had everything from Midori to apple Schnapps to Southern Comfort. God, we drank a hell of a lot of SoCo then. It was considered an exotic staple in London at the time, and Grand Duchess’ credit line could grant us virtually anything.
Getting the Princess drunk — under the table drunk — took two things: the peer pressure of the Grand Duchess (her new best pal) and a lot of sugary cocktails with lots of girly garnishments like fresh round slices of citrus, paper parasols, maraschino cherries, and, later on, the whole bottle (because what the hell when you’re already on frilly drink number six and you can’t see what the next one in front of you even looks like anymore). That one time was enough, apparently. My roommate, the Grand Duchess, and I had all unintentionally created a creature the likes of which we weren’t ready to deal with.
The next morning, she didn’t get up until late afternoon. Later, when she finally emerged from her sanctuary, puffy-eyed and groggy-voiced, she let us all have it because, obviously, it had been our fault she’d missed all of her classes for the day. Typical. College.
The routine would be the same for the Princess from then on. Twice a week, sometimes three times, she would get hammered. It was if the very notion of the act symbolized her overt rebellion against her cultural traditional norms. Of course, her grades plummeted. Of course, her parents let her have it all the way from New Delhi. It was never her fault though that she’d been so irresponsible as she claimed to them again and again. It was always….ALWAYS…her “horrid flatmates'” doing.
(Well, yes, I suppose it was, partially.)
Grand Duchess joined the Princess in her weekly binge. The two of them had more than enough of a credit line between them to get in trouble. On some nights, my roommate and I would be quite literally barricaded from entering the living room/kitchen area as the doors from the hallway were tightly locked. We couldn’t see much of what was going on through the heavy veil of cigarette smoke (one nasty habit turned into another, naturally) that covered our line of sight through the door windows. The two of them would bring over a harem of stupids who would camp out in our hallway, our shared bathtub, and the living room floor. Princess and bestie wouldn’t ever stoop so low as to sleep with any of them, their toys.
The resident manager was informed of the Princess and Duchess’ shenanigans from our other flatmate, who had decided for our own sanity and peace of mind a long time beforehand that the best way out was to have the royals booted out of the commoners’ flat. Unfortunately, the resident manager was also quite corruptible and turned a (handsomely bribed) blind eye to all of the noise, the smoke, the alarms, and the complaints that were piling up about our flat.
It was late in the term, only weeks before some of us would have to go back to our old campuses and to our families. Finals were nearing. Major projects were looming. I spent gobs of time locked in my bedroom with headphones on, volume up, in denial and deep in heavy contemplation. My roommate burst into the room, breathless and angry-eyed. She had news to share that I suppose, in hindsight, I ought to have already known had I not been locked away in my own space. She led me out to the living room, which had been freshly cleaned by the Princess so as not to leave traces of her guilt behind, and pointed to the floor.
Right there, in the middle of the alcohol-stained carpet, sat a fat, fluffy, white rabbit. The poor thing was frozen in fear, its little, pink nose twitching.
“I just got home,” said my roommate, “and saw THAT.”
We were on the cusp of calling the RSPCA because neither one of us had any idea how to properly care for, never mind secretly contain, a rabbit, and just then, the Princess came sweeping in with her shopping bags and books. She walked right past the rabbit, clunking everything down on the kitchen counters, whinge-ing to us (as if we would listen) about her falling GPA and how everything was so “haaaaaaard,” that we had been so “haaaaaard.” Grand Duchess had been trailing her, of course, and had seen the rabbit on the floor. She shrieked and swiped up the trembling fluffball, holding it out in front of the Princess. “You LEAVE it on the FLOOR? I got you a CAGE! Why innit inna CAGE?”
My roommate quickly remarked that no one but the Princess and her buddy would be responsible for having a pet in the flat, breaking yet another one of the rules of the building (and one that would all but guarantee an eviction).
Still, the Princess was most neglectful of her angora bunny, an Easter gift apparently given to her by her doting friend, the Grand Duchess. The fact that she had the bunny out of its cage on the first day was a sign of things to come. My roommate and I, with the reluctant assistance of our often MIA other flatmate, found ourselves slaves to the rabbit, making sure she was fed and watered, and if we came home from class and found her “mysteriously” out of her cage, her “mama” nowhere around, we’d keep an eye on her. That, of course, also meant cleaning up the trail of turdlets the fluffy critter often left behind. The poor little thing would often burrow behind our sofa when there was more than one person lingering in the living room, making it difficult to coax her out. It got to the point though where she recognized me and my roommate moreso than the Princess and the Grand Duchess, and neither one of them could stand that.
A couple of weeks after I’d left the flat, readying to go back to Georgia, I got a call from my roommate, who was awfully excited about the events that had transpired since. Our MIA flatmate from NY had called the RSPCA AND the landlady of the complex about the Royal Rabbit and the fact the poor baby had been neglected. An RSPCA member, the landlady, and a health inspector demanded to be let into the flat. The Princess, panicking, had quickly stored the rabbit cage away deep within the musky confines of her room and had then let them in. They told her that someone had reported a rabbit being kept in the flat, and if that was the case, the owner of the rabbit would have 48 hours to leave the premises.
And how did the Princess react? Easy. She told them her flatmates were the most disgusting, filthy sows she’s ever had to live with, that due to their terrible hygiene, their dirtiness, their leaving garbage everywhere, the place smelled of animals. Apparently, she’d felt responsible enough that she’d had to clean after them, the nasty swine, unable to clean up after their lazy selves.
It’s worth it to note that both MIA flatmate AND my roommate were there during all of this as well, and they insisted the group search the Princess’ room.
They didn’t have to though.
The RSCPA member found rabbit pellets near the corner of the sofa.
The Princess insisted that due to our filthiness, we’d had a “rat infestation.” Seriously. That those were rat turds caused by, you know, rats.
My roommate told me the health inspector had held his finger up at the Princess — the NERVE! — and he and the RSPCA member shoved the sofa away from the wall. Apparently, the reason why the little doe had burrowed behind the sofa was because she’d been pregnant and had given birth to her babies there. There was a nest of them in a giant hole in the sofa itself.
It was a turning point then and there, that her Highness no longer had any clout and wouldn’t be able to bribe her way out of her lies and ludicrousness.
She was, to put it bluntly, royally fucked, at last, at last.
(Drunk Disney princess art courtesy of fanpop.com; memes and gifs from memebase and giphy.com)