The Saratoga Sun -

Roommate Influence

 


I believe our personalities are a cumulation of exposure to different people that have impact on us. Family is usually a given. My family definitely has influenced me as well as friends.

Then there are the roommates. I don’t know how many the average is for most people, but honestly, I have had 49 roommates since I left home for college. Many of the ones I had before I got married shaped me strongly, so I decided to recount a few.

The First

I had my own room since I was about seven and when I went off to college, I admit to being a bit nervous about who I would be living with.

I had moved in mid-semester and my roommate Tony had thought he was going to have a single. The roommate before me, had literally been taken out in a strait jacket. He was driven crazy by Tony by all accounts. I am sure the guy had issues before Tony. I walked in and told him I was moving in, he made it clear, he wasn’t happy. He left the room. Guys from the dorm popped in and wished me luck.

Tony had his own bookie. He hailed from New York City and made no secret, University of Maryland was not in his long term plans. He was two years older and somehow, I don’t remember how or why, I became like his little brother. The fact I hadn’t been driven insane or beaten up fairly early on, gave me a bit of status on my dorm floor. When it became known, Tony even liked me, I never endured any hazing that accompanied new guys moving onto the floor.

Tony was my first real example of learning not to judge a book by its cover. He was Italian American, through and through. He gambled and played hard in the adult world. But there was a kind side to him, most had little clue. The tough guy, who would pick a fight in a heartbeat, was considerate and did treat me well. The one downside, my girlfriend Smitty and Tony did not like each other and neither kept it secret, but I dealt with it. I was sad when he moved out the next semester to get his own apartment.

The First Girls

After Tony, I had a couple more male roommates, but I was in a fairly serious relationship with Smitty, where I spent the night at her apartment quite a lot.

When I graduated, I immediately moved into a house with three friends. My sister joined the house for a few months before she went into the air force. I bounced around a couple more houses and roomies the next three years before deciding to go back to college. I ended up living with two women. Kit and Alice were fantastic people and we all worked together at the restaurant where I learned to bartend. I had gone back to school to get an English degree my first degree is in Advertising. It was an interesting time for me. I got to put my life on pause as I went back to school. I got my degree in one year. I had all the general requirements from my first degree, so I only had to take 21 credits a semester. Note the sarcasm on taking 21 credits (that is seven classes). Fortunately, Kit was pre-law and a 4.0 student. Alice was studying viticulture (the study of wine growing) and took mostly botanist courses. I had never been around such driven students and their good study habits rubbed off on me. I also learned more about “General Hospital” than any man should be forced to.

Peto’s Cottage

I went to work in the resort town of Ocean City the summer I went back to school. Smitty and I had just broke up. A friend from college rented this shack with three rooms that was on a great stretch of beach. Countless friends crashed at “Peto’s Cottage” when coming to town. A lot of friends visiting cleaned the place for us. It was great. My college friend Eric and I are still buddies to this day. The best part, I met another future roommate who became one of my best friends ever.

Alternative Roommate

Alice moved out. Kit and I needed someone to move in. There was a guy we knew from other friends who moved in. Kit and I were not sure about him but we needed to get someone in there. Steve was openly gay and I guess there was a lot of prejudice on my part. I just wasn’t sure I could handle different gay guys coming through the place I lived. Kit wasn’t sure either. It turns out, Steve turned into an excellent roommate and friend. If I was on a date, Steve had to make sure I looked okay. Another thing about Steve, he came from a ridiculously wealthy family. He worked, but didn’t have to. He was the great grandson to the largest family held jewelry chain. In the U. S. Steve treated Kit and I well. Kit moved out and for a while it was just Steve and I. He took over Kit’s payment and we had a guest bedroom. Steve became such a good friend, he was an usher at my wedding.

Second Set of Female Roommates

Patty and Beth took me in after I had just come back from Hawaii the first time. I had been gone six weeks. I had left my job and moved my stuff into the girls large townhouse in downtown D.C. I came back and started hunting for a job. It took me about two months to find something stable. During that time, Patty and Beth made extra dinner to make sure I was getting fed. I had worked with Patty before and knew her fairly well, but I didn’t realize what a gem I had as a friend. Beth was in media production and because of my advertising background, we had a lot to talk about. In a way, those ladies saved me. All I could afford was rent and utilities, so if they hadn’t fed me, I don’t know what would have happened. When I did get a job, I celebrated with those ladies first. They had really believed things would work out for me and it did. Beth went to move in with her boyfriend, so at 26, I was moving in with my 21st roommate.

A Brother

I had met George in Ocean City at the restaurant we both worked in. Uniform was tuxedo and waiters wrote nothing down. I barely survived the first week, but George was smooth. He had been a scholarship athlete until he hurt his knee his senior year in the last football game. For some, bitterness might fester, but George was just happy he had played as long as he did. That was his personality. Look at what you have and don’t worry about what you don’t.

Everyone loved the guy. Women melted on a daily basis because besides a good looking guy, he was charming as hell.

We hung out all the time in Ocean City and later, he moved to Maui. He was the person I stayed with durning my visit. So when he came back, the timing worked for us to be roommates.

We found a place outside Annapolis right on the water. It was a magic place. We could crab off our pier along with swimming. He also had me on the basketball court almost every day.

George’s high school basketball team was ranked #9 in the country when he played. Needless to say he was good, hurt knee or not. My game improved dramatically.

He got along with my girlfriend, who would later become my wife, so that made life easy too. George was the best man. His influence on me was gold. I learned to be much more optimistic and it was a fun two years.

To this day, I still talk to him a couple times a month.

I thought my roomie days were over. I moved out from the place in Annapolis to live with my soon-to-be wife.

I don’t count her as a roommate in my life for some reason. But this is where I will pause in recounting my roommates. When I got married, I thought I was done having any more very roommates in my life.

I was very wrong.

But the roommates just featured cannot be understated on how important they were in helping me get to that point in my life.

I think anyone who has had a good roomie, knows what I am saying.

 

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