Friday, January 13, 2017

Gay Panic and the Obnoxious Roommate

Long Island, September 1997

When I first started out in grad school in New York,  I couldn't live in Manhattan right away: everything there was frightfully expensive, $900 to sleep on someone's couch, $1000 for a walk-in closet in someone's bedroom.  So I moved into a graduate student apartment near the campus on Long Island: four bedrooms, a bathroom, and a living room-kitchen area.

You were assigned roommates. Mine were all heterosexual: Huang, a slim Taiwanese guy who talked on the telephone loudly at 4:00 am; a beefy Turkish guy who mostly stayed in his room, and Max from Brooklyn.  Cute, rather muscular, and THE MOST OBNOXIOUS PERSON ON EARTH.

1. He played VERY LOUD rap music all day and all night. He would leave the apartment with the music still blaring from his room.

3. He smoked -- in a nonsmoking apartment -- got drunk every night, and had the annoying habit of calling everyone "Negro," when they weren't black.

For that matter, it was annoying to hear Black English coming from a white guy: a'ight, I axed her, word, I'm a bust a cap, chill out, peace out.


4. He brought girls into the apartment to spend the night, and in the morning  they walked around in bras and panties.

5.  When there were no girls, he invited eight male friends over, to smoke, drink, call each other "Negro," have LOUD discussions of the "tits" on various "honeys," and eat all of the food in the refrigerator, including my food.


6. He never cleaned anything. Imagine this place with a dozen plastic bags full of decaying leftovers, piles of dirty dishes, 23 magazines, 16 beer cans, three pizza boxes, and miscellaneous shirts, pants, and underwear.

7. Once he went home for the weekend, and forgot that there was an open can of tuna fish in his room.  We thought somebody died in there.

8.  He put a pot of water on the stove to boil and forgot about it.  Three hours later, the water had boiled away, and the pot was on fire.

9. He walked around wearing only a towel.

Well, that part was ok.

But I wanted this guy out!  I called management, but they said that being loud and messy was not grounds for re-assigning him.  Now, if he asked for a re-assignment himself....

Why would he do that?


"Well, maybe if he was uncomfortable with you.  You know, if you were a homosexual or something."

Gay panic!  The perfect roommate repellent!

I staked out the living room until Max walked past wearing only his towel, talking on his cell phone to someone: "Naw, her tits ain't nearly as big as her sister's...."

I ripped his towel off, revealing his penis -- very impressive.

He slammed his cell phone shut. "Yo, Negro, what up?" he asked in surprise.

"What up is, you're really hot," I said.

Any second now he'd run shrieking to his room, slam the door, and call management to request a new apartment.

Any second now...

He grinned.  "Thanks, man."

"Um...I like them big.  The bigger the better.  There's not a guy alive I can't handle."

"Glad you like the view."  He swung his hips a bit, then retrieved his towel.  "Any more than that, and I'd have to charge."

Time to bring out the big guns.  I lay my hand flat against his chest.  "You want to...you know, get together sometime, like on a date?"

Asking a naked straight man for a date!  Any moment now, he'd run away screaming...

"Naw, naw, sorry, man, I ain't play like that. It's all good, though.  I got a homie that be into dudes.  Whyn'cha give him a holla, yo?"

"Um...sure, that would be great."

He wrote the number on my notebook, then turned and sauntered to his room, leaving me in a stunned silence.

Obnoxious but not homophobic.

See also: Why My Nickname is Boomer; Trapped in a Dorm with Kids

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