As I hopped out of the shower, I could hear my phone going crazy in the other room. The incessant ‘plinks’ and chimes made my anxiety rise, making me feel even less excited for the upcoming dinner.
Tonight’s dinner felt like a prison sentence. My roommate had a Groupon, to a local Indian restaurant, for four, and it was expiring tonight, so she had texted me earlier for an impromptu weekday dinner. A kinder person might have hid the fact that the only reason for this dinner invitation was an expiring coupon, but my friend and I were close, so I disregarded the demanding nature of her earlier text:
“I really need to use this Groupon tonight. Can you meet for dinner at six? And bring your friend, the one with the curly hair, because we need four people.”
When I looked at this text message, during my lunch break, I groaned. Not only was I being punished, but I now had to punish my good friend to come along with me. My friend ‘with the curly hair’ was a trooper, she changed her workout schedule and said she could happily accommodate my friend’s demand.
I quickly threw my hair up, put on a sundress and was out the door, before reading any of the texts. I started my car and flicked on my phone and read the most recent text from my roommate, “Don’t be late, me and Carla will be there are six. I hope you and your friend will be on time. I am exhausted and want to be done dinner early.”
My roommate could be a real piece of work, especially when she was in a bad mood. I understood though and could be grumpy to her, when I was stressed, so I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. When a friendship morphs, over the years, from friends to family, you can sometimes remove pleasantries because you know that the person is your person and can treat them badly from time to time.
A part of me wondered why she was pushing this dinner so much, especially when she clearly was not in the mood for it either. Why not bite the cost of the coupon and let it die?
“I am on my way sista, relax,” I texted back, intentionally putting in the ‘relax,’ because I know how much it pisses her off. ‘Fuck this damn dinner,’ I thought to myself, as I followed ‘Becky’s’ voice, my car navigation’s directions, to the restaurant.
When I got to the parking lot of the restaurant, my curly haired friend pulled in, at the exact same time. I braced myself in the car, and forced a big smile on my face. She was doing me a favour and I had to turn ‘it’ on for her. Why punish her by association? I needed to be a good friend and make this night as enjoyable as possible.
“Hi sexy!” I said cheerily, as we both locked up our cars. I put my arm around her shoulders, and we walked, side by side, into the restaurant. “Thanks so much for making the time, I know how busy your weekday evenings can be,” I said smiling at her. She smiled back, “For you, the world.”
She was not reading into any of my stress, anxiety or frustration towards the evening. ‘Good,’ I thought to myself, ‘Maybe this will be a fun dinner, of four wonderful women.’
As we strolled into the restaurant, linked together, I scanned the booths for my roommate and her friend. I saw them, in a corner, and steered my friend in their direction.
“Hello ladies,” I said, as we both slide into the empty booth seats, “You both remember Jane, right?”
They both nodded encouragingly and everyone exchanged pleasantries, as we gazed over the menu selection.
“We have to spend at least eighty dollars for the Groupon requirements,” my roommate said sternly to the group, “so let me know what you want to order, before telling the server.”
How tacky, I was so embarrassed for my friend and by association, for myself. Why was she being so bloody terrible? She should have just ate the cost of the damn coupon, if she was going to be such a, such a….bitch.
I snuck glances at Jane, who was sitting across from me, but she did not seem to phased by the strict rules for dinner ordering, or she was playing up her nonchalance very well. She really was a trooper and I was grateful for her presence.
We all ordered dishes, within the approved price range, and as the wine was uncorked and poured, the conversation started to flow as well. I did not know my roommate’s friend Carla very well and this was the first time she was meeting Jane, so I thought that this might be the blossoming of a potential great friendship group.
‘Maybe this will become a thing, and this will be my very own Sex and City group of women,’ I thought to myself jokingly. I had these odd dreams of this becoming a real thing, a monthly meeting, where four wonderful women would get together and build each other up. I had always wanted that, and had never before had a girl gang, so the dream was a nice one, in the (potential) making. I was enjoying myself, my girl gang dream, and the drinks and appies were being well enjoyed by all.
“How did you and your boyfriend meet?” Carla asked me, refilling everyone’s glasses.
She was always that girl, searching for the secret to finding a man. She was a serial dater, but nothing ever chalked up to anything meaningful and I think she thought she was doing something wrong. She was always looking for advice or truth’s in other people’s journeys, to somehow explain her own missteps.
“Well, we met at the bar, Social Haven, a few years ago. I was there for a girls’ night out and he was out with a friend of his. We started talking and it kind of…just happened from there,” I said as I spooned some more curry onto my plate. I was smiling a bit, remembering that first night and how far we have come, since that first simple exchange.
“Ugh…..” my roommate looked over at my, slightly sneering and rolling her eyes, “that is not what happened at all.”
Jane and I looked at each other, slightly confused, as my roommate bulldozed on.
“You were looking for a one-night stand, because you had been single for a year, and hit on him,” she was talking as though she was making her final pitch to a jury before they left for deliberation.
“Umm…hang on,” Jane, trying to cut in, before shit hit the fan, but do not worry, my roommate surged on, with a vengeance, from deep inside. She was not aware of Jane’s attempt to stop and redirect the conversation or she simply did not care.
“You brought him back to our house, on the first night that you met him. I was so angry at you. He could have stole something. I cannot believe you brought home a total stranger. I would never do anything like that. You were reckless and so depressed; god, you were such a mess.”
I sat there, shocked, and completely silenced by her verbal assault.
What the fuck just happened? Had I just been slut shamed? That was not what happened, the night my partner and I met, or what I thought happened, but why would she divulge this to almost a total stranger? I barely knew Carla and now, here she was, exposed at all of my dirty laundry, slapped right on top of her dinner plate.
I looked over at my roommate. I was looking for signs of pain or embarrassment, hoping that she realized that her verbal diarrhea was wrong or hurtful, but I saw nothing. She stared right back at me, like she was relieved or powerful, like she finally had lifted a large weight off of her shoulders. She looked relaxed and pretty self-righteous.
“Well… we are still together, so whatever your version of the story is…is your version,” I said shakily. I am never good at the comeback. If you give me three hours, I would come back with a vengeance, but in the moment, I am crap with the comeback.
“My partner is lovely,” I continued, desperately defending my life, “he is wonderful and caring. I am so lucky to have him in my life.”
I do not think anyone was listening, or I do not think my roommate was listening. She was eating and staring at a text on her phone.
I wiped my mouth, covered my uneaten food with my napkin, swallowed my remaining wine in one swig and waited for the server to walk by, so I could ask for the check. All I wanted was to get away from my roommate and the lingering smell of curry.
I did not care that the dinner was not done; I was boiling inside. I was overflowing with anger.
How dare she judge me?
How dare she slut shame me?
The girl, whose single life was risque enough to make even the most sexually advanced person blush, but she, like many others, forgot her sultry ways, once she hit the reliable road of monogamy.
Am I a slut?
Do I really fucking care?
I had never been slut shamed before and really did not know how to deal with the accusation. I thought that women did not do this to one another anymore…how simple I was.
Finally, the server walked by, “Please get us our bill, split in four,” I said, clearly pissed off and far too cold to the innocent server, but my roommate seemed completely oblivious. Jane could see my fury and was poised, ready to pounce and protect, if I lost my shit.
Good friends are priceless.
My roommate seemed quite proud of herself and her tragic tale of living with a slutty roommate was finally out there. I kept running through all of the words she had flung my way, only moments ago.
‘What would he have stolen?’ I wondered to myself. Our Ikea dishes? Our ten year old television? The hand me down furniture? My seven year old laptop?
We owned nothing of value, and even though we were not in university anymore, we still lived like broke students. However, all of a sudden ‘the apartment’, where we hardly locked the door, even when no one was home, was now filled with infinite treasures, unknown to me…the slut.
I also started down an even darker path. Did she make the theft comment because he was black? What the fuck was she getting at? Is my roommate a racist?
Between asking for the bill and it arriving, I had reached a state of complete and utter anger, which I had never felt for anyone before in my life, and I have been divorced, so this is a big thing.
This woman, my roommate, who had so many notches on her bedpost, that it had been whittled down to a toothpick, was judging me? There I was, now being just as ‘bad’ and as judgemental as she was to me, but she started it.
“Here are your bills,” said our server, smiling far too cheerfully, for the tense tone of the table.
“No, not four bills, please split the bill in three,” said my roommate, like the server was an idiot.
As he walked away, she definitely explained, “I cannot be expected to pay for dinner, when I bought the Groupon.” She enunciated every word, like we were a bunch of dummies, who did not understand.
‘What the hell is wrong with this person?’ I thought to myself. She is going to absolve herself from the bill because she bought a coupon for a dinner, which no one at the table wanted to be at? A dinner which was ending in such a tragic state and had put a wedge between us, which we have yet to resolve.
No one spoke for the rest of the evening, except for my roommate; she kept chattering away like an idiot, completely unaware of the discomfort of the dinner.
The three bills were returned to the table, by a much less chipper server. We all paid our bills, to get out of this hellish state. I dropped my cash and walked away, not saying goodnight, not saying anything and stormed out of the restaurant.
Jane called me shortly after I drove off, “Are you okay? What the fuck was that? Have you two been fighting? Why did she attack you like that?”
I was so glad for the call; I really needed a friend at that moment. I had no answers for her, I did not know where the attack came from.
I felt hollow and exhausted. I felt embarrassed and I hated that someone defined and diminished my beautiful relationship into something tacky and tragically desperate.
I wanted to kill my roommate. I never wanted to see her again, but I knew that both of us were driving on the same road, in separate cars, in separate mental spaces, but to the same physical destination.
I would deal with her when I got home and she had no idea the pain I was going to send her way.