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Too Close for Comfort

A hilarious short story on the Lighter Side of Sharing Expenses



Too Close for Comfort



t wasn’t supposed to lead to this.  It should have been a simple three-week visit.  B.K. comes home one day and asks me if it would be O.K. for Brian Murphy to come stay with us for a while, while he relocates to our area with his company.  I thought, “Sure, Murph is a pretty good guy.  Just another one of those Colby people I never really knew very well, but always did like.”

Brian arrived the second week in March of 1989 and stayed with us for about three weeks.  All of which was just fine with both B.K. and me.  We enjoyed having Brian there and even made a bit of extra cash in the process.  You see, we charged his company for his living expenses and made three hundred dollars apiece.

As it worked out, Murph had to bug out quicker than any of us thought he would.  Apparently he had met this Hungarian “girl” while traveling in the Soviet Union some time before and she was coming to visit him.  Well, Brian was very thoughtful in feeling that it wasn’t right to ask us to put up his guest so he found some dump in Waltham, Mass to live.

Quick character sketch of Brian’s friend:  Keep in mind throughout this character sketch that Brian is about five foot six inches and weighs, maybe, one hundred and forty five pounds. 

The visitor came from far away.  She stood a magnificent five foot eleven inches tall, maybe six feet, tipping the scales at an impressive one hundred and eighty pounds (conservative estimate).  Confidence is high that she could have taken me handily two out of three falls in a wrestling match.  Anthropological studies came to mind as I gazed upon her enormous head.  The small cranium, protruding super-orbital ridge, three hundred CC brain, over-sized lower mandible.  I was sure I was face to face with some form of prehistoric female.  Perhaps the missing link itself!!  

Her alarming attributes go far beyond the physical, as will be discussed later.  She will, from now on, be referred to as either Luca or, more affectionately, as the Hungry Eastern Block Heifer.

Now try to work with me on this part.  You meet a girl from a different country while traveling in a third country.  The two of you seem to hit it off pretty well and spend a lot of time together.  So upon parting ways, you leave her with a means of getting in touch with you at a later date.  You tell her that if she ever comes to the United States, the Boston area, that she should look you up.  You’ll give her a place to stay, show her the area and reminisce old times.  Well, Luca did just that and never left!

She lived with Brian in that Waltham dump on a month-to-month basis, never signing a yearly lease.  B.K. and I gave Brian a hard time about this beast he had for a pet/girlfriend/visitor.  He claimed there was nothing between them, strictly platonic, just friends.  However, they lived in a one-bedroom dive with; you guessed it, one bed.  Still though; there was absolutely nothing going on.

Well, throughout this, B.K. and I were trying to decide whether or not to renew our lease in the People’s Republic of Cambridge.  Somehow, the option of Brian, B.K. and I, getting a place together, and having the Hungry Eastern Block Heifer stay with us (Brian) until her departure date sometime in late November, came up.  With hindsight being twenty/twenty I must have been heavily sedated, but all parties agreed.  At best it meant only about three months of living with what turned out to be the least attractive, laziest, most stubborn example of humanity I’ve ever encountered.

So the stage was set.  I didn’t know it but I was all bent over and primed to take series of red-hot pokers right up the old pooper.  My personal investment prior to our living together was simply staggering.  Calculating in the first and last months rent, and the security and oil deposits, we needed to come up with approximately three thousand, six hundred and ninety seven dollars and sixty-three cents, APPROXIMATELY!!  All of which came from my personal savings account and a thirteen hundred dollar advance on my visa card.  I had fronted all the money for us to move into a place, that I also, was the only person to put in a search to find.

It all seemed well worth the effort in time and money, as I was able to find a great three-bedroom townhouse condominium in Newton Upper Falls at a very reasonable price.  Our new lease was to open up on the first of September, however, our new landlord, Frank Quinn, told us we could move in any time.  B.K. was on a visit home to Penang and was scheduled to return in mid-August.  We decided to move in the day after B.K.’s return.  The burden of the move was just another responsibility that mysteriously fell upon my shoulders.  I borrowed my brother’s truck and his assistance, took a day off from work, and moved everything B.K. and I owned from the People’s Republic to Newton and everything for Brian and Luca from Waltham to Newton.  At this point, for all my efforts, I received only a small thank you from B.K., who, in his defense, was absent for most of the preliminary arrangements.  Brian and Luca said nothing.  Call me foolish, but if someone had done for me what I had done for these people I would feel indebted to them and attempt to show my gratitude with maybe a gift, or dinner, or a night out on the town.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not making an attempt to martyr myself.  I only need you to understand just how lopsided this relationship was.  While home in Malaysia, B.K. became disgruntled with the American way of life.  He decided he no longer wished to play our American games.  He began to spend a lot more time with what is known as the Malaysian Society in Boston.  He also found himself a woman.  Due to his new affiliations we very rarely saw B.K.  In fact, I saw him only about five times between early November and April.  This left me alone to deal with the terror that lay with the disguise of the tandem of Ozzie (Brian) and Harriet (Luca).

The original arrangement of living with Brian and Luca seemed to go pretty well.  But, it soon became apparent that we would be two separate entities sharing the same abode.  We never ate together, never shopped together, never cleaned together, never even spent any “quality” time at home together, and certainly never went out together.  Brian, B.K. and I all shared the rent, and then we split all utilities four ways.  Because Luca was not responsible for paying any rent I felt she would make up the difference and earn her keep by cleaning and doing some general housekeeping.  I learned at a later date that she refused to do housework because she did not want to feel like or be treated like a maid.  She probably should have considered splitting the rent to be an equal tenant

Kitchen Mess

I came home on night to the most horrific mess I had ever seen engulf a kitchen.  It looked as if someone had cooked a meal for Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves and left it to fester on the counter, the range, and in the sink.  There was absolutely no room left whatsoever to even make a sandwich.  Even if there was, you could not find a clean plate or utensil anywhere.  I was a little pissed, but, giving them the benefit of the doubt, I figured they must have been in hurry and would clean up later.  Well, I went out that night, and upon my return, the mess was still there.  I went to bed and when I awoke for work the next morning, it was still there.  It lasted through ‘til the next day when I could have sworn that some slop that was on one side of a plate was now on the other, and I can’t be sure someone spun the plate around.  Now I was flaming pissed. So I left a suggestive note that read, and I quote, “A dish or pan left in the sink to soak is one thing, but this is completely disgusting, and renders the kitchen totally useless.  I think if we all clean up after ourselves and exercise a little common courtesy things will run a bit smoother”.  I returned later to find the mess cleaned and a small addition to my note that read simply, “F#@& you D-Cal”.  I didn’t like the appendix to my note, but took it in the humorous note I believe it was meant.  Also the mess was cleaned, so I was happy.

Brian asks me one day if I would mind if Luca had a friend come stay with us for a few days.  Paint me red and call me a barn!!!  I should have seen this one coming.  Luca had a friend from Hungry, ironically, also named Luca, who was about the same height, quite a bit wider, a whole lot less attractive, couldn’t speak a stitch of English, and ate everything that was not nailed down, come stay with us.  As our guest she was given free rein of the condo, which she appropriately exercised.  She managed, all by herself, to commandeer the entire first floor of our home; I can only imagine by what she felt was her “Right of Eminent Domain”.  I don’t know why I complained so much; after all, she was only there a mere five weeks.  During which time the only things I saw this wildebeast do were; eat, sleep, eat, knit, eat, and watch TV.  Did I mention EAT!!?  Maybe it is customary in their country to leach off your friends for as long as they will put up with you, I don’t know.  What I do know is that I saw no compensation for the inconvenience I was caused.

Now I’m not anal retentive about cleaning, I can even handle messy.  In fact, I often just throw my clothes around my room.  I do, however, know that nothing is growing within the piles.  I can’t say the same for food messes in the kitchen and mold and mildew in the bathroom.  It took a lot for me to stand idly by and watch the house go to hell but I needed to see just how far they would let it go.  I continued to pick up after myself and keep my own properties in order.

Household Cleaners

Then I couldn’t take it any longer.  I brought home some industrial strength cleaners from the health club and proceeded to whitewash the upstairs bathroom.  Upon their arrival home that night Brian and Luca could obviously smell the permeating odor of chlorine bleach from the cleansers.  They asked me what it was from and when I told them they began to congratulate me as if it were about time I got off my ass and did something.  I damn near lost it and bore into them with the old,      “. . . when the hell was the last time either of you cleaned the bathroom or even up after yourselves.  And you Luca don’t even pay any rent.  You should be doing a fair amount of cleaning just to earn your keep!!”  Well, both heads dropped and the conversation ended.  It turned out to be only a small victory for me in an insignificant skirmish within a war that would eventually have no victors.

I was now counting the days until Luca would be leaving us to return and terrorize Hungry again.  The first of December rolled around and I was elated at the thought of her departure some day soon.  My dreams and aspirations were all at once dashed one evening while just sitting down to dinner, when Brian announced to me, while hand in hand with the Hungry Eastern Block Heifer, that he had good news.  Having speculated for some time about this possibility, I new what was coming next.  Even when I was informed that they were to be married, I tried, I tried real hard to reach deep and wish them the very best and congratulate them.  The best I could do was say, with all the sarcasm I could muster, “GREAT!!”  I was now truly miserable.  As the story went, Luca’s visa was soon to run out and they both really wanted her to stay.  This seemed the best for everyone.  Yeah Right!!

The best thing for me was that I had just become involved with Donna and could spend quite a bit of time with her.  Life on the home front was to get no better and in some regards to deteriorate even further.  With no forewarning there would be guests showing up for big, family style Sunday dinners.  There were times when I would get up on a Sunday looking forward to spending a relaxing day in front of the tube, watching football and dozing off into occasional cat-naps.  Only to find that the Minister from Brian and Luca’s local church and his wife were on their way over for a day of Hungarian Goulash and stimulating conversation.  I mean is too much to ask for a little advance notice?  I could have and would have been happy to make alternate plans to spend the day elsewhere.  I’m sorry to say that once or twice I seriously considered not moving from the couch.  By following through on my day’s original agenda I felt I would be making a statement.  However, it is just not in my nature to be so callous.  So once again I would end up bending just enough to let Brian and Luca have their way with as few waves as possible.  Since I neglected to nip this situation in the bud, these unannounced dinner parties did continue to occur from time to time throughout our tenure together.  Each time placing all parties involved in an awkward and embarrassing situation.  I was often reminded of the analogous story of boiling a frog in a pot of water.  You can’t simply toss the frog into an existing pot of boiling water; he’ll just jump right out.  However, if you place him in a pot of cool water and slowly turn up the heat, he won’t realize the injustice being done to him and before long he’s boiled.  Well, the burner was on and it was getting very warm at the Newton Upper Falls Condo, this place I called home.

Word came down that the wedding was to take place on the twenty eighth of January 1990.  The same day the San Francisco Forty Niners were scheduled to destroy the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV.  I told Murph, “I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, what religion, race, color, creed you are, none of it matters.  You simply do not get married on SUPERBOWL SUNDAY!!!  You might as well go to India and have a beef barbecue”.  The whole wedding scene was to get way out of hand.  Luca’ family, the Horvacs from Hungry, spent all they had just getting to this country, so now they needed a place to stay, fairly inexpensive if possible.  GEE!!  Why not have them stay at our place?  Everyone currently on the American Youth Hostile Travel Circuit already knows we have plenty of room.  So here they come, Mom, Dad, and sister Hanna.  When I first laid eyes on sister Hanna I began to question what the average woman in this country looks like.  The suicide rate for married men must be staggering.  This Hanna was a human characature.  She had the facial features of a five foot two inch one hundred and six pound girl, yet built around and over this was a being more gruesome than Luca revisited, the five week beast from hell that ate our home.  The Harvacs, also, completely commanded the entire first floor of our condominium for the three weeks they remained with us and relations with my freeloading Eastern Block tenants were at a constant standstill, as they also spoke no English.  I had more right than anyone to be comfortable and at home in that condo in Newton Upper Falls.  However, as time passed, I increasingly felt like the unwanted guest who had outstayed his welcome.  I was the one intruding on this band of squatters reaching for their small piece of the American Dream.  Brian did come through with a bit of a rebate on that month’s rent.  Just goes to show that he must have realized, at least a little bit, the injustice he was bringing upon his housemate.

With the wedding and the visit from the Traveling Hungarian Zoo comfortably behind us it was time to continue with my all expense paid trip down the River Styx.  The relationship between Donna and I had fizzled but I was now spending upwards of eleven or twelve hours a day at the Wellesley Racquet Club just to pass the time.  As I told my boss, “It’s a damn good thing I enjoyed my job so much or I would have been truly miserable”. 

Conversation was nil between Luca and me and Brian and I conversed only when necessary.  I came home one Thursday night to find the entire condo cleaned spotless from top to bottom and Luca sitting down to a bowl of soup.  I commented on how nice the place looked and thanked her.  She grumbled, without breaking stride in her soup consumption, something about it only taking her nine hours to get the job done.  I never actually said anything, but I couldn’t help thinking that if she had kept up the cleaning all along then it would not have been such a gargantuan task.

Well, the next day I received an explanatory phone call at work around six pm from Murph asking me if I would like to join him, his parents, and Luca for dinner that night.  How unfortunate that I had to work until eight on Fridays and simply couldn’t make it.  Expressing my sincere apologies and deepest regrets, I respectfully declined the offer to spend such quality time with roomies and family.  At least I now had a firm understanding as to why Luca had busted butt to clean the house.  It was now time for the Murphy nuclear family to take their turn through the revolving door at the Hotel Newton Upper Falls Condo – this place I called “home”.

During that Friday night phone call with Brian I was again assured of something I had speculated for some time.  Brian came right out and asked me if I knew that Luca was pregnant.  I told him I had kind of figured; what with the way she was gaining weight at an exponential rate and getting off the sofa hips first.  So I asked Brian, if he didn’t mind my asking, “How far along was she?”  He confirmed my belief that she was approximately five and one half months along.  A few quick calculations on my part and I figured she had been pregnant since early November.  Since I knew they had not decided to get married until mid-December I asked Brian if the wedding plans had anything to do with the arrival of the impending nugget.  He denied the accusation and told me they had made their decision prior to the knowledge of the baby.

During a conversation with a friend at the club I asked him if I had mentioned that my roommate was pregnant.  He said he didn’t even know I was living with a girl!  I told him, “Sure I was, with Brian and Luca!”  I guess I had told him nothing about them because he said, “Brian and Luca, What fish?”  I got a real kick out his analogy, equating my roommates to goldfish.  Someday I may just get some guppies and name them Brian and Luca.

Knowing the baby would arrive before our lease ran out I decided Brian and Luca had to go.  I called Brian at work the following Tuesday to see if he and Luca would have time to sit down and talk about our futures that night.  He agreed it would be good idea.  Luca was in and out of the conversation but spent most of her time upstairs.  Brian and I had a good talk about how things had not worked out the way any of us had anticipated

I didn’t really leave them much of a choice.  I simply asked when he thought they might move out.  At that point Luca came back downstairs devouring a quart of ice cream.  Brian mentioned to her about moving out, and with a heaping tablespoon of Rocky Road in her salivating mouth she barked out her intentions to stay in the Newton Condo.  I jumped in at that point and asked her if she had any sense whatsoever.  “Would you rather move now or at the end of August when your baby will be five weeks old?” 

Having spoken with my folks about this whole situation my father told me that if they were to move out he would help me by subsidizing their portion of the rent so as not to ruin my credit or get me evicted.  I made the mistake of mentioning this point to Brian, which would soon come back to haunt me.  It took some time, but they finally found a place to move to.  The time, as far as I was concerned, could not come fast enough.  B.K.’s girlfriend had since gone abroad to study in England, so he was back residing with us.  His return did little to change the deteriorating situation.  We were now all waiting for Brian and Luca to give the word that they were vacating. 

The end of June was fast approaching and Brian and Luca said they would be moving out around the first of July.  Happiness and anticipation are words I used to describe how I was feeling at that point.  They moved the bulk of their stuff out of the condo, but left things, such as their dinning room table and a tremendous mess in their room, behind.  At this point in time, B.K. was M.I.A. in the U.K., he had up and gone to England to see his lady friend.

Brian was under the impression that he did not have to pay rent for July and August since he and Luca would not be there.  I could not afford July’s rent of eleven hundred and fifty dollars myself, but if Brian paid his third I felt I could cover B.K. until he got back from England.  Brian paid, I guess figuring he would get his third back along with his portion of the security deposit.  Once everything was set for July, I found out from our landlord, Frank Quinn that we did not have to give him a check for August since that had been paid up front.  Both B.K. and Brian had reimbursed me for the rent I had paid up front but I had never asked them for any of the deposit money, figuring I would just keep it when it was returned.  With all this factored in, Brian was under the impression that he would be getting back three hundred and eighty four dollars for July’s rent and the same when the last month’s rent was returned.  I had to explain to him that we all signed a one-year lease to pay so much money in twelve monthly installments.  Since we all paid for July and August had already been paid for, everything was set, we all satisfied our lease.

Brian then brought up the offer my father had made to me. He somehow misconstrued the offer and understood it to mean that my father was offering to pay their rent when they left.  I tried to explain to him that the offer was made to me for my benefit, not his.  He insisted that I ask my father for that rent money.  I explained to Brian that there was no need for that since all moneys due had been settled. Brian was complaining that he needed that money to pay for bills he had incurred through Luca’s pregnancy and her dental work. I told him I could not sympathize with him.  I did not knock up the wildebeest and it was not my fault her teeth were falling out and I certainly was not going to help him with those bills simply because he needed it.  Brian still insisted that I ask my father for the rent money.  I figured sure, I’ll ask him; Pop enjoys a good laugh just as much as the next guy.  For good humor, while having dinner at my folk’s house, I did mention the request Brian made and we all sat around and laughed at how naive some people can be.

Now Brian is all pissed off because he is not getting approximately eight hundred dollars he was counting on.  The next time I saw him he was trying to scam me out of money I guess he felt was rightfully his.  He showed up with a list of past bills due.  He figured I owed him about three hundred and fifty dollars.  I itemized and calculated everything myself and came up with a total just over two hundred dollars.  I said nothing and simply wrote him a check for what I felt I owed him.  He took his check and left.

A few days later I met with our landlord and walked through the condo to see in what kind of shape it was.  He and I agreed it was in pretty good condition so he just wanted to be sure all parties would be out by the end of the month.  I told him I could make no promises but I had been assured the place would be empty.  I left for Utah a day later and only got the rest from our landlord, Frank Quinn, on the phone.

Upon my arrival in Utah, I was anxiously awaiting a healthy reimbursement check from Frank Quinn.  Time was passing very fast and I had heard nothing from him.  Around the end of September I gave Frank a call to see whether or not he had mailed the deposit money.  He was busy, but returned my call later that day.

Frank and I had always got along very well and he wanted to make sure I understood he was not upset with me.  He was, however, flaming pissed at Brian and Luca.  I’m assuming B.K. had all his belongings moved out on time since his name never came up in the conversation.  Frank informed me that he was, in fact, just sitting down at that time to itemize all deposits to be returned.  He also expressed his dissatisfaction with both Brian and Luca and the state of shambles in which the condo was left.  He told me that he had a Realtorâ in there on the first of September to show the place to a potential buyer.  The Realtorâ did not even let the prospective enter because she was so embarrassed by the condition of the condo.  Brian and Luca had never returned to remove their remaining things and clean up.

Upon further inspection Frank discovered the place was in un-rentable and un-sellable condition.  He claimed there were holes in the walls, ink stains on the carpets, ants and cockroaches running around, and the place needed to be painted.  Frank and I both agreed we were curious as to how this could happen in a month when virtually nobody was living there, since he and I had gone through the place just before I left.

Extending his sincere apologies, Frank informed me that he was going to have to charge me one half of a month’s rent since the premises were not vacated on time, and for all the repairs and bug bombing.  I would not be charged for the painting since that is considered general maintenance.  Sure I was pissed off!!  I had been expecting a check for approximately thirteen or fourteen hundred dollars.  Instead I would receive just over five hundred dollars.  There was really no way I could then go ask Murph for that money as he felt I owed him near eight hundred dollars.  So rather than give him the opportunity to laugh at me, I just swallowed the loss and went my own way.

Figuring this whole mistake was now behind me, I set about concentrating on bigger and better things.  However, my excursion to purgatory would rear its ugly head one last time.

I had gone home to Massachusetts for about a seven-week hiatus through the Holidays.  While there I received a package that had originally been sent to Utah then forwarded to Mass.  I recognized the envelope as being from Brian’s company, so I knew it was from Murph.  Enclosed was an itemized list of more bills he felt I owed him.  I had to laugh!!  The testicular fortitude of this man was unreal.  For humor sake I went through and itemized and calculated all sections myself and figured Brian was again attempting to overcharge me approximately eighty five percent.  I, without haste, mailed him a check for zero dollars and zero cents, along with a note explaining my gratitude for his vacating five days late and for the general hell it was to have lived with him and Luca.

Zero Dollar Bill

As of the writing of this story I have heard nothing more from him.  I am now afforded the time and the opportunity to kick back and reflect on the whole affair.  I can’t, by any means, say I enjoyed even one day of it, but it does make one hell of a story.




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A Soft Heart


A True Relationship


Be With Someone


Be Your Priority


Any Guy Can Spoil You


Changed Just Like That


Cheat Yourself Out of Loyalty


Damage No Longer Controls You


Defined By Your Past


Don't Feel Sad


People Don't Know Good


Feelings For Granted


Feels Appreciated


Friends for Life


I Don't Want a Perfect Person


I Forgive People


I'm Here For You


In Order To Love Who You Are


It's a Beautiful Thing


The Right One Will Lead You To Peace


Leave Your Past in The Past


Life is Too Short


Light a Lamp


Living Well and Longer


Make an Effort


Make Them Laugh


Never Forget Who


Never Give Up


Never Regret Anything


No Matter How Old You Get


Nothing Again


One Day You're Gonna Miss Me


One of The Best Feelings


If You Push Me Away


Respect People Who Find Time


Self-Discipline


Silence is The Best Answer


Strong Enough To Live It


The Best Things


The Most Beautiful Things


The Seven Wonders of The World


Treat People


Wait Until You're Ready


What The Heart Already Knows


When Your Past Calls