I used to work with this guy who had to be on the other side of every conversation, so everything felt like an argument. Every day he would saunter over to my desk like a cockroach wearing an ill-fitting suit, squinting through his cloud of negativity, and describe another reason the Universe was out to get him.

“My mother told me she’s moving and I can’t go with her” he pouted, then waited for a reaction.  The suggestion of another roommate caused him to spit “what, I’m just supposed to live with some stranger?” all over my morning bagel.

I was young. I didn’t yet see that he was a serial killer of energy and should be avoided, so I forged ahead.

“Get your own place, then, a studio or something.”

“I can’t afford that!” he shouted, incredulous. “She’s abandoning me on the street, she doesn’t care what happens to me” he moaned moan-fully, wearing a pained expression like he was explaining something complicated to a child who couldn’t possibly grasp his emotional depth. There was a long, dramatic, pause. My eyes found a magazine on my desk facing the other way, and I tried to read it upside down to pass the time.

“I asked her if I could sleep on the couch at her new place, but she won’t even let me do that,”  he breathed, defeated.

“I’m sure she doesn’t want you to be homeless” I said, foolishly still participating in this madness, “tell her you really need to live with her, I’m sure she’ll reconsider.”

“Don’t you think it’s about time for me to be out on my own?” he hissed, disgusted, and walked away in a huff.


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