My Husband and I Live With a Slob!
How to get rid of a messy, drunken roommate without ruining the friendship.
Dear Friend or Foe,
Ten months ago, my husband and I signed a yearlong lease with an old friend of mine—"Mac" —so we could all move out of our parents' houses. He has been very inconsiderate of our time and space: He brings friends over to drink loudly until early morning, he never cleans, and he uses our belongings without asking. We feel that we need to remove ourselves from this situation when the lease ends. Since there are two of us (and we both have stable jobs) and one of Mac (he works as a server), I understand that this puts him at a major disadvantage. Since Mac is never home, I recently sent him a text message asking when we can get together and discuss the various options.
He sent me back a series of messages accusing us of going behind his back and trying to send him to the street because he has no other accommodations lined up. He also keeps saying there's nothing wrong with the living arrangements. He thinks that everyone is getting along fine, and he doesn't feel like moving his stuff again. I can see this meeting turning into World War III. Please help me figure out how to talk with him so that our last few months are not filled with angry stares.
Well, if Mac is never home, there shouldn't be too many death stares to deal with—unless, of course, you have to pee at 3 a.m., just as the party's getting started. Sometimes life is an inconvenient bummer, and hard-drinking, jam-filching, rarely mopping Mac is just going to have to deal with it and find himself some new roommates on Craigslist if he wants to stay put.
When you signed a lease, you agreed to occupy and pay for said quarters for 12 months. After that time, you were always free to move to Tahiti. Moreover, since you two are married (and probably desirous of your own pad), surely Mac realized that this apartment was merely a way station for you guys, rather than a family home in which you'd all grow old together. Even if you'd all gotten along famously—and he'd left your Smuckers alone—there was going to be a strong chance of you two announcing that you were striking out on your own after a year or two.
Mac has two months to find new roommates. Suggest he start looking now, or, if you're feeling charitable, put up some notices at work yourself and/or spread the word on Facebook. * You'll realize that 60 days of stink-eye from Mac are worth it once you're settled into a new, clean, and quiet home.
Friend or Foe
Dear Friend or Foe,
I just had a deep friendship end after 30 years. "Margie" is a fanatic workaholic who never makes an effort to see or talk to me. We live on opposite coasts, but when she comes to my city, she's always "too busy" to hang out. I'm also unwilling to share her rose-colored—to the point of delusional—outlook on life. One of her feet was messed up last year, and she was largely unable to walk for four months. But she never went to see a doctor because she couldn't see a reason to and "rarely leaves the house." (She works from home.) More urgently, her mother has dementia and recently lost several teeth because she'd stopped brushing them. Margie doesn't seem to realize that it's up to her to ensure that her mother's basic needs are taken care of.
Despite my own experience with a mother with Alzheimer's, she's rebuffed all my attempts to talk with her about her mother's care. It got to a point where Margie told me I was being "bossy and critical" and that it was "human nature" to avoid me. I've bitten my tongue a lot, but Margie has honestly frightened me with her neglect of both her mother and herself. Furthermore, I fear that Margie, now in her 50s, may be experiencing cognitive decline as well. This opinion is based on interactions where she seems out of it in ways that seem similar to my mother's early dementia. Should I contact her daughter, who's a medical student, and express my concern? I've known Margie's daughter since she was born but haven't seen much of her in recent years. Or should I just put Margie out of my mind?
Dumped for Not Being in Denial
Lucinda Rosenfeld is the author of four novels, including I'm So Happy for You and The Pretty One, which will be published in early 2013.
Illustration by Jason Raish.