The summer between my junior and senior year in college, I helped my friend Sally move out of her apartment.
It was an insultingly hot and humid summer in St. Louis, and moving Sally out of her second floor walk-up had been a butt-ache of a job. My butt literally ached from going up and down stairs.
Standing in her empty bedroom/living room, we looked around at the holes in her walls from art and fixtures, and contemplated what to do. Her landlord was coming by any minute to inspect the place, and we knew that if the walls weren't patched he'd behave like the bully he was and wouldn't give her her deposit back. Being young and inexperienced in apartment dealings, we didn't know what rights she had.
Yes, she should have handled it before this moment, but it had slipped her mind. Again, young and inexperienced.
Sally's landlord was horrible; belittling, condescending, suspicious of women. When her apartment was broken into, he asked her, "Well, are you having wild parties? Are you coming and going at all hours of the night? Who comes home with you?" Then he took his sweet time fixing her front door.
But she really needed that deposit back.
"Do you have any toothpaste?" I asked.
"Nope, it's at the new place."
"What's in your fridge?"
We opened her fridge to see a bottle of ketchup, a bagel, and a tub of cream cheese.
"We're using cream cheese," I told Sally, and grabbed the tub.
We speedily spackled Sally's white walls using cream cheese and index cards. The result was amazing — the cream cheese matched the color and texture of the walls perfectly.
No sooner had we finished than Sally's landlord showed up. He frowned around the apartment, checked the front door, and gave her her deposit back. She thanked him, and we hurried out before the lack of air conditioning caused the walls to melt...or worse.
Sally actually never heard from that landlord again. For the next couple days, all I could think about was the walls in Sally's hot, empty apartment.
What would the smell be like? Who would have to clean it up? Some poor maintenance person? The landlord himself? Would the neighbors be tortured by cheese stink?
As much as I hated Sally's landlord, I felt like such an asshole for doing something that might, in the end, have punished someone else.
I drove by the apartment one night about a month or so later, there was the glow of a lamp in the window. So I guess someone moved in. I wonder if from time to time they smelled phantom cheese.
I still cringe at the "Cream Cheese Incident" more than a decade later, when I can't sleep. I flip-flop between embarrassment at what an immature, dick move it was, and thinking maybe it wasn't so bad? People have done way worse.
What are the asshole things you did when you were younger/dumber/angrier that you wish you could take back? Do you lie awake and cringe about them too?
What are the things you still feel perfectly justified in doing?