The thing about putting up a “Housemate Wanted” ad on the Internet is that the first responses you get are always from Nikolas from Greece and Adriano from Sicily, both of whom declare that yes, it’s funny you mention making a house a home because they love nothing more than cosy nights in drinking wine on the sofa and chatting until it’s late. Winky emoticon.
Urgh. Yes. You’re beautiful. But also? No.
Dear All The Foreign Men: it’s a rubbish idea to shit where you eat, and the one thing The Barrister and I agreed on before we picked a housemate was that it couldn’t be a fit man because inevitably one of us would end up shagging said fit man. Probably, because we’d made the promise, we’d both end up shagging the fit man and then not mention it to the other because PROMISE BREAKERS ARE HORRIBLE PEOPLE and so for months, if not years, potentially we could be in a situation wherein three people live together in a sort of poly-amorous relationship except it’s quasi not proper because not everyone has given their permission to bend the rules that way. Just you, Pedro, will know the dark secrets within. And that’s not okay.
What we decided to do instead was to screen the applicants for the room via email, then get them over in a Hunger Games-style approach to housemate survival.
(Australians, of course, being an automatic “no” as the nightmare flatmate I broke my last lease to avoid forever and ever amen was Australian, and yup. That is the kind of passive-aggressive arbitrary ruling that means never shall I share a bathroom with one again. I’m not sorry.)
You meet some really weird people off the Internet.
One guy asked us nervously what kind of background checks the estate agent issues. I think we can all agree that if you have to ask that question, the answer is: all of them.
One girl told us about the fantastic relationship she and her current housemate have, because she works 9-5 and her housemate is out in the evenings because she works as a masseuse. An evening masseuse. I snorted and said oh, wow, that’s… political, because she’s a call girl. Obviously. After 8 p.m. it’s not a massage, it’s a hand-job. And if you’ve lived with a call girl you’ll probably struggle with the amount of time I spend doing jigsaws in my pyjamas in the living room. Different worlds.
The first girl we saw seemed to think she was moving in, failing to realise that we also had to actually like her, and the way she wagged her finger telling us the room would need to be painted so who could she get confirmation of that from and yes, she does go to the gym twice a day and NO. GET OUT. GET OUT OF MY HOUSE.
By 9 p.m. we were knackered. There were some “okay” people who came by, but we both agreed that we felt the bar for awesome flatmates was quite high, on account of the fact of how much we both rate each other.
The Barrister can work very erratic and long hours, so it'd be interacting with the third housemate the most, in all likelihood. Although it crossed my mind to simply find the least offensive person out of our selection to take the room, somebody who wouldn’t mind my thrice-weekly impromptu dinner parties but wouldn’t throw any of their own, really I want somebody who you can grab a pint with after work. Somebody who you can say “cunt” in front of. Somebody with some stories.
‘Fuck,’ I said. ‘I’ve just had a text from somebody wanting to come round now. OH GOD I’M SO TIRED.’
‘What have you text him?’
‘I said yes… he’s only round the corner and it won’t take long.’
‘What’s his name?’
‘VETOED. Gary is a shit name. I’m not living with a Gary.’
‘Well he just rang the bell, so be nice- in ten more minutes you can go to bed.’
A petite dark-haired man in a lovely knit jumper circled the corner. He had a seductive Irish lilt, cited a break-up with his boyfriend as the reason for his move, and declared, ‘Oh, I’m like, lady clean. Even the bathroom I wipe down when I’m done.’
We sat for an hour and half chatting and getting to know each other. At one point, I told the story of how I once farted in my Pilate instructor's face, because why wouldn’t you tell that story to somebody you’ve just met, and in riposte Gary revealed how he had farted in his bum waxist’s face only last week.
GUYS. HE SAW MY FART STORY AND “TRUMPED” ME WITH HIS OWN.
The Barrister and I looked at each other across the room.
‘When can you move in?’ I said.