ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 18 May) – My sister Anthea had been my roommate since I started college. That is, until she passed the chemist licensure exams and moved out to “make her way into the real world” or as I like to call it, “subsist under the oppressive capitalist system”. It was all well and good. I did not mind being alone and holy shit, I had the whole place to myself. Okay, not actually the WHOLE place, only our room. The boarding house we’re—I’m—in has three floors with five rooms each. Nevertheless, I was quite pleased with the whole arrangement. I practically never go outside the room unless I have classes or I’m hungry anyway. I’m like an extremely watered down hikikomori, because I still do maintain interaction with humans. And dogs and cats. More or less.
This introverted bliss did not last long though. One evening, about two months since my sister moved out, there was urgent knocking on my door. Annoyed because I wanted to chill after a stressful day in class, I ignored it. I knew it was one of my landlady’s minions. It stopped for several minutes but came back stronger and more annoying too than ever, so I caved. That was when she (the minion) told me I had new roommates coming over. LIKE, THEY WERE ON THEIR WAY AS WE WERE SPEAKING. Walang alarm, walang anything, Bimb. A bombshell was dropped on me, just like that. I wished she just came to collect the rent like she always does, even though I always turn her down and tell her I’m going to directly pay to the landlady (hehehe).
But like Oedipus, I could not avoid the inevitable. They were on their way. I wonder if this is what it felt like for soldiers during the medieval period when they were waiting for their enemies to approach the battlefield.
And so the two of them came. And Rome burned.
To be fair, they’re not all bad. In the end, they’re just two ordinary girls who happen to have many differences from me.
For one, they love to drink. Sometimes I think they came out of their mothers’ vaginas just to drink, as if it’s their number one purpose in life. Being born to drink consequently made them born to throw up. This birthright has enabled them to develop quite an impressive skill set.
Skill One: Collaboration. In the seven months of being each other’s roommates, they have thrown up on our floor nearly ten times. They usually take turns. Sometimes only one of them is drunk and she throws up. Sometimes it’s the other one and she too throws up. But one time it was both of them who threw up, and I literally just finished cleaning the floor before they came and launched a full-blown attack. And it was not some half-assed cleaning. Oh no, I swept and mopped and scrubbed away; and because I was feeling fancy, I conducted an alcohol blessing. You know, like that spectacle priests do with holy water during a special mass as if they’re rock stars on a concert. I thought I was going to cry. IT WAS 70% SOLUTION ETHYL ALCOHOL, MAN.
My neighbors three doors away “adopted” me and we watched movies in their room until I was no longer upset. When I returned the floor was partly cleaned thanks to my roommates’ friends who brought them home. But it was too late for my 70% solution spree. R.I.P.
Skill Two: Physics. I remember the first time it happened. It’s still so vivid in my brain, I bet it will be more memorable than what I’ll impulsively buy with my first paycheck on my first job. This particular skill is going to haunt me for the rest of my life. It has scarred me in ways no tragic film or book ending, childhood trauma, and romantic heartbreak ever did.
You see, our room has two double-decker beds. I use the lower deck on one and they use both decks on the other. Unfortunately, between the two of them, Upper Deck Girl seems to have a lower tolerance, which makes the whole affair messier than it already is. Her vomit free falling from her mouth, splattering on the point of impact, would have made Newton’s apple cower in shame and fear. I bet that apple did not splatter, which makes it inferior to my roommate’s vomit. This vomit is the alpha. It loves to mark its territory. It will destroy your crops, molest your spouses, slaughter your children, and terrorize the whole village.
Since the first time it happened, I have always known when it’s coming. I can tell. The nonverbal cues have made its mark like a stubborn stain on a white shirt. It starts with an ominous guttural sound, like she’s warming up her engine. Like she’s brewing a storm. And then comes the quick yet tense silence before the storm. And then the storm. The wake left by the storm smells like. . .Mr. Chips?
And then it’s over for her, because she passes out. But not for me. I still have to spend minutes lying in the dark, wondering whether or not I should pack my things right then and there and live out the rest of my life as a hermit in the woods. But I decide not to, because this will be a good story to tell at parties. (This is the part where you scoff because I don’t really go to parties, but you know what I mean.) And I’m very good with impressions. If we meet, ask me to reenact because no amount of onomatopoeia could ever capture the glory and and gory of Skill Two.
Skill Three: Self Love. There was a time Upper Deck Girl got sot so drunk, she ended up in the hospital. But she had it coming for her. Anything can happen when you’re drunk. At least, that’s what she thought. The truth is, she spent the night in our toilet. The white walls and her subdued brain function tricked her. When she returned from her “graveyard shift”, she went directly to the toilet to throw up. For me, this was character development. No free falling vomit? Yeah. The tides we’re changing! History was being written! So I let her do her thing. But she was starting to take an awful lot of time in the toilet, and she was not even throwing up anymore.
Two movies later and she was still inside the toilet, and I needed to pee. I opened the door and there she was, her body comfortably sprawled in our cramped toilet, a pool of vomit beside her like it’s her lover. Seeing her state, I decided to hold my pee. She looked peaceful, her mouth slightly open. For someone who just spilled their guts out, this was laudable. This was catharsis at its most raw. I have never been intimate with another person the way she was intimate with her own vomit. Damn. Maybe this is what they meant when they said “love your own”.
Bonus Skill: Aesthetic. In a parallel universe where, like my Deck Girls, I also love to drink, Lower Deck Girl might just be my role model. She knows her priorities. Despite her drunken mess, she still insists on doing her skin care routine. And let me tell you, she does not f_k around. My skin care routine is basically to just wash my face with some random soap and hope for the best. Maybe I’ll moisturize if I’m feeling fancy, like how it was with my 70% solution ethyl alcohol. All these while I’m sober.
But Lower Deck Girl does one of those multiple step Korean skin care routines. She even maintains consistent upward strokes when moisturizing. All these while she’s drunk. People who still have archaic patriarchal biases will insist on the supposed inherent weakness of women but I don’t think they have ever seen Lower Deck Girl do her skin care routine while drunk before.
I will no longer be roommates with the Deck Girls next semester. They’re graduating high school students, going to different universities from mine. Whether or not they will level up their skill set in college, I do not know. But I am free. (Alexandria M. Mordeno studies Political Science at Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology.)