WORST ROOMMATE EVER: My 93-Year-Old Roomate Read My Diary and Walked in On Me Masturbating

My first encounter with my new grandma-roommate was through the open crack of her apartment door. Inside I only heard yelling… in French! How metropolitan.
Avatar:
Glennis
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
394
My first encounter with my new grandma-roommate was through the open crack of her apartment door. Inside I only heard yelling… in French! How metropolitan.

Simone was old.

Simone was so old that she came to America on a boat. She was so old that she was a full three-quarters of a century older than her oldest roommate. Simone was SO old that her daughter was in the hospital with a broken hip.

Simone may have been old at 93, but she was “New York” old. She was feisty and nimble and, as I’d soon come to find out, powerful enough to throw a phone across the room. A rotary phone, which still displayed the original pre-WWII exchange, KL5… Simone was old!

I was young and naïve. I hadn’t even made it out of my teens when I took off from Colorado to make it in New York on Broadway. Simone was my ticket to skipping college and, at 93-years-old, I had already decided she would be starring in my new life as My Grandmother.

New York City was overwhelming; Simone would make it less so. She would stroke my hair and call me her little cabbage. I felt safe flying into the arms of Simone. 

Soon, with her support and guidance, I would have a blossoming stage career. I knew all this, yet I knew absolutely nothing about Simone, and I couldn’t dance for shit. Simone was just a friend of a friend of the family, the rest was blind optimism and a dash of denial.

Glamour shot from the 90's.

Glamour shot from the 90's.

My first encounter with my new grandma-roommate was through the open crack of her apartment door. I knocked timidly, my 5 suitcases I’d lugged from the cab to the West 77 Street apartment surrounding me, but no one answered. Inside I only heard yelling… in French! How metropolitan.

“Merde! MERDE!” someone shouted. I pushed open the door and saw my tiny grandmother waving her fists in the air as she circled a disheveled young woman. The girl snatched her sweater off the kitchen chair before rushing out the door past me hissing, “Good luck.”

Immediately I was on Simone’s side. I listened to her complain about the rude girl who had previously occupied my room. 

Poor Simone!… I thought as I surveyed the apartment: avocado green carpet that you could see around the perimeter had once been shag; French doors leading into a sunny eat-in kitchen; my own bathroom, and my sweet little room with a view of the very top of the Empire State Building. 

As a girl obsessed with all things vintage, and all things New York, I was in heaven.

That Sunday I accompanied Simone to her favorite Chinese restaurant on the corner for lo mein and free wine. She was not impressed with the limited French I knew even though my favorite phrase, “Le ciel est couvert” applied to the stormy night. Still, I was sure our bond was eminent and looked forward to feeling the love.

The love never came. Instead, she read my diary, snooped around in my room, accused me of bringing in cockroaches, and walked in on me masturbating. You don’t know shame until a 93-year-old French woman walks in on you and a beer bottle.

Still, I tried. I watched PBS with her, and borrowed her novels by Sue Grafton. N is for Not Interested in getting to know a 19-year-old kid. 

So I stopped. I focused on finding work, auditioning, and familiarizing myself with my new city. I cared for the children of three families, and walked the streets of New York until my pleather Payless shoes were filled with blood. I did anything I could do to avoid Simone.

One day I returned home to find that Simone had rented my room. I had $300 and five days to find an apartment. I was a mixture of devastation and panic. Where could I turn? 

Going back to Colorado was not an option; I’d vowed that to myself the minute the wheels tucked into my eastbound plane. This was the first lesson Simone taught me: innovation. Within an hour I’d found an old classmate who was moving to New York and we planned on moving in together.

With three days to go I felt my optimism return and started to pack my room.

Maybe it was the heat that broke our brains. It was August in New York and it was a humidity I’d never experienced growing up Rocky Mountain high. I froze washcloths to lay across my body at night; I thought New York was broken. 

Maybe in another season we would have left on good terms, but we were in a pressure cooker with 75 years, a language barrier, and too many misunderstandings between us to ignore.

Two days until departure I was met with an angry Simone at 10 pm certain I had stolen her 50-year-old towels. There used to be seven, but now there were three and I had stolen them. At this point I felt nothing but exhaustion. The heat had drained the fight out of me and Simone was apparently soaking it up.

I counted the towels for her. “Seven towels. I didn’t steal your towels.”

“I never said you stole them,” she said so cavalier that I momentarily lost my mind and said the one thing you should never say to anyone over the age of 50:

“You are a liar!”

With those words Simone flew into a rage. A phone-throwing, face-slapping, door-slamming rage. She locked me out of the apartment for hours, only letting me in when a woman down the hall I occasionally babysat for came to help.

I moved out of Simone’s apartment the next day and slept on a 5x7 pool air mattress in an apartment without electricity in Jersey City. I had never been happier and I’m happy to say that through a string of truly loony roommates over my 15 years in New York, Simone holds the gold.