I am a college sophomore and my roommate’s oblivious to the fact that he is a slob. We were friends before we moved in together and I’d like to protect our relationship but he leaves dirty dishes and pots lying around as well as half-eaten meals. When I broach the subject, he apologizes and claims he honestly doesn’t notice his surroundings that much. He says he’s oblivious, but I think that he is passive aggressive because somewhere in his head he knows I will clean up eventually. Thoughts?
Who is right?
Welcome to the wonderful world of living in close quarters, which exposes you to horrors you’d never otherwise know about your friends and loved ones. And rest assured, no matter who your roommate is – best friend, perfect stranger, Michael Jordan – after a while, you’d want to cut out his entrails and stomp all over them.
Years ago, I would have told you that you were one hundred percent right and your roommate was indeed avoiding taking responsibility for cleaning up his share. However, after being married for over a quarter of a century, I have come to see obliviousness up close and honey, my husband wouldn’t see the laundry basket at the bottom of the stairs if Michael Jordan were sitting in it, smoking a cigar and holding up a signed ball. When he absent-mindedly asks me where the towels are, even though we all know they are in the linen closet, I usually say “try the oven.” His closet is far bigger than mine and yet, he must leave a pile of clothing right outside its door. Would it be so difficult to kick them one more yard? Nay, I say, it would not. I have screamed and yelled, beat my chest and come ever so close to self-immolation. But what are you to do, if you want the place to be cleaner, and he’s happy to live in squalor?
The time has come to sit your roommate down and draw up an agreement that may resemble a toddler’s chore chart, complete with stickers and smiley faces. Or maybe just a grunt and a handshake. Maybe you wanna straighten up together (for an hour every other Saturday), maybe you wanna have a bonfire and burn the entire contents of your room once a semester. Let’s say you make your bed with hospital corners and he hasn’t changed his sheets since orientation week. That seems surmountable. BUT! I believe there is a big difference between messy and dirty. Messy is disarray. Dirty attracts insects. Talk about what you both can and can’t live with. My guess is, if you can live with his messy, he should be able to clean up his dirty.
My friend and I, both parents, disagree over the Nature/Nurture debate. Care to weigh in?
I’ve never met a subject that I didn’t want to weigh in on! So here goes. I believe that when sperm meets egg, that’s basically it. What can I say? They seem to come out with the same anxious cry that you hear when they are fourteen and ghosted by their crush, or chill sensibility that turns them into a Middle East peace negotiator. I leave this argument with a quote from my mother who had a few Groucho-like bon mots about child-rearing like, “the years fly by!….But the days never end.” And more topically, “When it comes to your children, take all the credit!….Because you’re going to get all the blame.”
My house is so full of sentimental objects from my parents’ house and my husband’s parents’ house that we barely have space for things that are our own. Our parents are all gone, and we just can’t bring ourselves to give more away of what was theirs. We keep hoping our kids will one day want some of it, but what 21-year-old wants antique British china?
Marie Kondo isn’t working for me. Any other ideas?
Buried in treasure
They say we spend the first 50 years of our life accumulating things and the last 50 years trying to give it away. I myself have a basement full of crap (I mean wonderful treasures) from my in-law’s house and more coming from my childhood home. I feel ya! My husband is convinced that these wonderful treasures are worth a fortune. I am not. But, this is one of the times in a long marriage when the three little words that save the day aren’t “I love you,” but “Yes dear, sure.”
Fortunately, there are professional valuators who can come in and quickly give you an idea of whether anything is of (monetary) value or not. You may even make some of their fee back if you decide to sell the decorative Dresden porcelain figurines or bizarrely expressive Toby jugs. The kids may be less sentimental than you are or pride themselves on living on air without material things. This can be a psychological hump to get over. But start climbing baby, cause it’s okay! They will build their own memories (and have the exact same problem in 40 years). Save only the bare minimum. Donate the rest. Ruthlessness shall set you free.
Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Friday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby here.