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Ever wonder how a grown adult ends up with a teenage boyfriend? Me too.
Since college, I’d always lived with men. Men are easy roommates. They’re dirtier and leave small man-hairs over everything, but there’s never a problem and they take out the trash -– eventually.
I found my last roommate on Craigslist and got lucky; he was great. After he moved out, I thought about getting a one-bedroom, but it wouldn’t be any cheaper. My spare room just sat empty, mocking me.
I posted an ad. Most of the responses were from students (I’m 31), one from a “very fit couple” and one from a guy really curious what I looked like. (No, if he found me attractive he wouldn’t pay more rent just to look at me every day; I asked.) My favorite response as from a woman who wrote:
My situation is a little odd, but basically you wouldn’t see a whole lot of me. I might be there 2-3 times a week but it would mostly be during the afternoons … I would probably spend the night once a month at the very most. I’m basically trying to avoid paying [more] a month for a 1-bedroom apt that I would rarely use, so I thought the roommate situation might work out better. I think I’d be a good roommate because I’d pay half the rent without being in your way!
She used her real name and work email. I Googled her, I Facebooked her, I had a PI friend look into her. Finally I responded, “May I ask why you’d only be here a few hours a week?” She responded:
The situation is that my boyfriend and I both live with family members…..for a variety of reasons, we are not in a position to live together right now. However, it’s a challenge for us to be able to spend time just the two of us because we both always have lots of other people around at our houses. Between my work schedule … and his school schedule, and the fact that he has to be at home most evenings to take care of his elderly grandmother, a couple of afternoons a week is usually the most we see each other. We might be there an occasional evening or Saturday, but that’s about it. And we would very rarely be there overnight, because I have two kids at home and he has younger siblings who live with him.
But I already knew her “family” at home was really a (slightly) older husband with two kids from a previous relationship. I knew they had only been married five years, that she’d given a kidney to a stranger (the ultimate guilt assuagement?) and she was heavily involved in her church.
I also knew that her boyfriend was 17 and his “elderly grandmother” was his guardian. I figured out that they met at church, probably when she was an assistant youth pastor.
I also knew that she was 37.
When she asked to see the apartment over lunch the next day, I wanted to make an excuse. Although sleeping with a 17-year-old in my state is legal and he would turn 18 days after they would be “moving in,” I also knew he was a senior in high school and if the genders were reversed, I would probably see if I could turn her in under the law that protects students from teachers.
Over lunch, she quickly looked through the apartment, and offered $100 cash for me to hold it for her until the next month. I was put on the spot and I caved.
For the first year it was great, aside from the slight nagging guilt I felt for facilitating their relationship. But we weren’t friends, I’d found out her personal information online and if she wasn’t renting my apartment, she would be paying half of someone else’s rent.
And true to her word, she was only over a few hours a week, mostly during the day, and stayed maybe one night a month, watching a movie in my living room and shutting the door of her bedroom early.
I dubbed them Scandal and Jailbait.
Let me mention that her bedroom consisted of my chair, a mattress with sheets, a towel, a bottle of lotion and a bottle of lube. PERIOD.
At different times I found lingerie, a Valentine’s Day stuffed animal, and a poorly written high-school assignment marked 70 percent. What I did not find, ever, were condoms. (Are there no cheater ethics?)
Then they broke up. Scandal tearfully told me that Jailbait had dumped her and she wouldn’t need the room anymore. After a full year of avoiding her, evading any personal conversation, I had to fight myself not to hug her as one human to another. I didn’t.
A month went by, and again I had to decide what to do with my empty room. But then Scandal texted. “Did you rent out that room yet?”
Scandal wanted to live there while she closed on a house to move in with Jailbait. I needed the money. It was just her; Jailbait was going to stay home and finish high school or do whatever Jailbait does while not banging my pervy roommate. Sometimes he came over and they watched movies, because she doesn’t drink or smoke, probably because she only has one kidney and her boyfriend can’t get into a bar.
And I again thought about how there was more to this. How you can screw someone in your car; you don’t need a whole separate apartment for it. (I also thought about how I was living full time in her shitty shag pad.) There’s a reason they watched movies in the living room, and not on a laptop in her bedroom. She wants these rituals, but I haven’t figured out why.
Scandal works longer hours than me and goes to bed early. She tolerates my smoking, my drunken friends and she’s always paid rent on time. Jailbait just turned 19 (because that makes it better?) and I stopped thinking so hard about their relationship.
Then she asked if Jailbait could move in. He wasn’t getting along with his mom. She would pay more rent. I still needed the money.
I decided I was already involved. He was already over. And although she’s professional 24/7, never acting embarrassed or ashamed, he’s shy. He knows it weird. He knows we’re adults and he hasn’t even turned 20. So I said fine. For two more months.
He’s only been here a few days full time. I now have pizza rolls, ice cream and Hostess rolls in my cupboard. He’s unemployed and is home all day. I don’t know what he does. I don’t have cable or Internet. Under “favorite books” on Facebook, he wrote, “i can’t think of any rite now.” Yesterday I walked past them while they had a movie paused, an action movie; she was explaining the plot.
In the morning, I have a 19-year-old boy with bedhead and braces eating cereal at my kitchen table. I don’t want children, but I have one in my kitchen. And bathroom. And possibly in my bedroom while I’m at work.
Part of me wants to find out if what she did was illegal. I’m sure it’s still prosecutable. The other part of me wonders: If she’s not out in April, will continue letting her pay most of my rent?