Thursday, November 17, 2011

Old fiction...that could also be nonfiction?

I found this old assignment I did in a 200 level fiction course. It's a not very serious (or is it) how to. I reread it, decided that I still like it, and spruced it up slightly.

Because of my last post regarding stretching the definitions, I have also decided that how to's are nonfiction.

I wrote this particular piece in the fiction mindset. It's content is not meant to be taken seriously, and I cannot verify for sure that following everything in this how to will work because I've never tried it. However, Several things in here are based on what my roommates have actually done AND I am also not claiming that I have tried these steps. Unless, you read that in as an implication of all how to's. BUT these steps very well could work...and I think they most likely would. (let me know if you try it out). And I'm sure that many tested how to's don't work for everyone following them. So, it's fiction. It's nonfiction. It's both? Neither? Coming across a writing that is either both or neither is new territory for me. I think it could be successfully argued either way. It probably goes back to how far you are willing to stretch away from fact or proven fact? or documented fact? and still claim nonfiction.

Anyway, here is what I wrote:

Get Rid Of A Roommate, How To.
It’s better to start out slow with normal, smaller annoyances. Start in the kitchen. Cook big meals without cleaning up after yourself. If someone says something to you about the crumbs they found on the counter, brush the crumbs onto the floor for them to step on. If they complain about crumbs on the floor, suggest that they vacuum. Leave milk in the fridge for long periods of time. Act like you don’t notice the smell.  Eat their food. Tell them someone else did it. Call them a lying, food-stealing whore. Enjoy the fight.
Make desperate coughing noises in the kitchen. Don’t cover your mouth. Leave used tissues everywhere. Tell them you have tuberculoses. If they aren’t sympathetic and say that you’re gross, call them racist. It doesn’t matter if you’re white or not.
Play loud music in the middle of the night. Take out the batteries of the smoke detector so that it chirps. When your roommate replaces the batteries, take them out again. Comment on how the batteries keep disappearing. Blame it on somebody. When  they say they don’t know what you’re talking about call them a lying, battery-stealing whore. Enjoy the fight.
When it’s cleaning day and your roommates request your help, tell them you cleaned last time and you refuse to be their maid. Suggest that there is a mouse running around because no one cleans up after themselves. Buy a mouse and set it loose. Name it Mini Me. Feed it your roommate’s food.
On the weekends, only talk in a Kermit the frog voice. On Wednesdays, talk like Yoda. Leave the heat off when it’s snowing out. Walk around with a huge coat on. When your roommates ask if anyone is cold, tell them you don’t know what their talking about and suggest that they dress warmer. If they turn up the heat, turn it back off and tell them it bothers your tuberculosis.
Get a tape of a crying baby. Play it randomly three times a week. Tell them you have a baby daughter. Never let them see her.  Get a pet, but only if they are allergic. Tell them your grandma left it to you when she died and you can’t get rid of it. Let the pet poop on their rug. Don’t clean up after it.
            Set your alarm for weird times and leave it outside their door. Tell them you don’t know how to turn it off. Let it beep for an hour. If they leave their doors unlocked, invite your boyfriend over and do dirty things in their room. Don’t clean up after yourself. Have parties on week days. Make extra-loud vomiting noises at four in the morning, again at five. Clog all the toilets. Pretend you don’t speak English. If they try to argue that you do speak English, call them racist.
            When their mom comes to visit tell her you love having so-and-so as a roommate, but you’re a little concerned about their frequent drinking habit and drug use. When their phone rings, answer it. Tell the caller that your roommate is in jail and will no longer be accepting calls. Put their phone down the food disposal. Tell them you don’t know why the sink is broken. When their significant other comes over, exclaim, “wow how many boyfriends/(girlfriends) do you have?” Then walk away. Enjoy the fight. When it’s time to pay the rent, offer to turn in their check for them. Throw it away. When they ask what happened, act confused. Call them an irresponsible, rent-avoiding whore.
 Look sad when they leave. 


  1. I would be gone in a flash. A former roommate of mine constantly blew out the candle in my room when I left, even if I was just going to the kitchen for a drink-which she was driving me to do. Hmmmm... But that is mild compared to these tactics. Your writing is hilarious-especially the smoke alarm part! I'd take my baseball bat to the device. A "How-to" find a new roommate piece could make a worthy follow-up.

  2. Think this would work on my sister? ha-ha

    You're hilarious. I love the repetition of "enjoy the fight" and all the different types of whores to call the roommate.

    The last line...I heard the "boom" Prof. Downs talks about. ha-ha

    Wonderfully done :)

  3. Due to the fact that I've had many roommate disasters and can relate, I really enjoyed this:) I wish I had read this sooner haha. So funny and entertaining :)

  4. Hahahaha. So funny! The tone is perfect and the ideas... creative :p

    I agree with Reggie that you could do a How-to for finding a roommate. I also agree with Meghan that the ending is perfect!

    Great job, Lauren!

  5. It's nonfiction if on some weekend you did indeed talk in a Kermit the Frog voice. Or Yoda's.

    These genre-bending questions are interesting, and they lead me to wonder whether you've read Lydia Davis's stories. Those stories sometimes read like fiction, and sometimes they read like nonfiction. Sometimes they are stories that seem like poems, or poems that seem like philosophy, or philosophy that seems like stories. Lydia Davis doesn't seem to care about genres. She just wants to write interesting stories. By stories, she means "narratives". "She said" is a narrative, according to Lydia Davis, though it isn't interesting. Anyway, I think you might enjoy her work.

    I don't know whether Lydia Davis ever had a roommate.