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Belching strangers and the roommate who subjected me to them

I stared at the burley, sleepy-eyed stranger who was on my couch, scratching his crotch. “Hey,” he said, TV remote in hand. “You’re out of soda.”

I frowned.

“Two comments,” I said. “One: thanks for the heads up on the soda. Two: who the hell are you?”

The stranger introduced himself as Dave. When he didn’t elaborate, I was forced to ask, “And. Why. Are. You. Here?”

“Oh,” he said. “Your roommate Allie…”

“- Abbie.”

“—Abbie, brought me home last night.”

“Brought you home? Like a puppy she found nosing through a trash bin?”

“Nah,” he said. “She was the filthy puppy. We met at a frat party and she was totally wasted.”

“Sounds like a good story for the future grandchildren. Go on.”

“I heard her belch from across the room—one of those belches where you think the person just threw up a little. I was like, gross, dude, but then I turned and saw her smile and thought she was kinda cute. Drunk off her ass but cute.”

“I guess Disney films can come true.”

“She kept touching my shoulder and telling me what big feet I have. She brought me home. Then we got biblical.” He grinned. “If you get her going just right she sounds kinda like one of those squeak toys people give to dogs.”

“Is that what those sounds were last night?” I said, horrified. “I thought a rat had fallen into a heating vent again. Christ, man!”

Dave cheerily explained that although my roommate had gone to work, she had graciously invited him to relax and spend the day in our apartment. I cheerily explained to Dave that her failure to notify me of this might have resulted in me impaling a perceived burglar with a Nintendo controller. Dave stared at me vacantly and then said, “You’re also out of bread.”

I stared at my television screen, where Zach Morris was staring dreamy-eyed at Kelly Kapowski. As he pulled out a cell phone the size of an iron, I said, “I didn’t know they still showed Saved by the Bell reruns on cable.”

“It’s on every day from 2:00 to 4:00. Then again at 6:00.”

“Uh huh…”

My roommate Abbie had a carefree spirit that extended all the way to her vagina. This wasn’t the first time I had entered our living room to find a strange guy lolling on our furniture, but because this one had not introduced himself with “Nice boobs—I can tell they’re real” or “Last night I had an epic burrito and, well, I couldn’t find a plunger so you may want to have maintenance come fix your toilet,” I decided he could stay for now. Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I sat down in the armchair near the couch.

When I moved into a two-bedroom apartment with Abbie, I thought there would be unspoken rules: No pilfering the other person’s chocolate unless it’s a PMS emergency. No leaving crusty pots and pans on the counter until they resemble Petri dishes; and no leaving one-night stands/potential serial killers alone with the other person.

Abbie had broken all of these rules, devouring my Snickers stash like crack, encouraging mice just passing by to build condos around our sink and take advantage of the food-smothered dishes, and most importantly: She had invited guys with names like Spike to get to know me sans an introduction, leaving them like sweaty presents in our living room. As Abbie’s latest paramour reached for a bag of (my) chips that rested on his stomach, I decided that this guy—Dave, was it?—would be my moment to take a stand.

“Here’s the deal, Dave,” I said as he channel surfed. “You know how vampires have this thing where they can only enter your home if they’re invited?”

“Vampires kick ass.”

“I think you’re missing the—”

I paused as Dave set the remote down, satisfied with his new television selection. I turned and stared at the TV. The Family Guy theme song hummed merrily. Slowly I began to hum along.

“You like Family Guy?” I asked.

“Best. Show. Ever.” He stared into my eyes, unblinking. “Ever.”

I found myself drifting to the opposite side of the couch.

“They rerun it every day for two hours at a time,” he said.

Slowly I sank into the couch cushions. As Peter Griffin sauntered onto the screen my mood became buoyant.

“Do you mind if I turn up the volume?” Dave asked.

“Of course. Family Guy should always be enjoyed at full volume,” I nodded. I paused, and then said, “Now pass me my chips.”