California is the home of passive-aggressiveness. This is a well-known fact. Everyone here knows that the true meaning of “whatever” in Cal-speak is “go fuck yourself” or “kindly impale yourself on a jagged rusted chassis of a 1992 Jeep Cherokee,” depending on the context. “Whatever” does not mean that the speaker is indifferent or even ambivalent about the situation. It means that the speaker is infuriated by the circumstances, but lacks the gumption, the proverbial balls, to speak out directly. Instead, he (or she) chooses to speak cryptically while secretly reserving the right to be upset later and forever more. Things fester – and not like the silly and loveable but moronic uncle in a certain morbid family which shall remain unnamed. No, this is a bad festering.
Perhaps the worst festering occurs with people in close proximity, and what could possibly be closer than the (unfortunately necessary) roommate? This is because there is ample opportunity to quietly sit on the couch and scrutinize the bastard, wondering if he was the one who left the bowl full of vomit on the coffee table, if he was the one who upper-decked the toilet, if he was the one who impregnated your girlfriend, or if all of those things were done by you last week after that sloppy night of Sake-bombs. Still, you persist in perpetual resentment.
There are hundreds (maybe billions) of reason to begin hating your roommate: jealousy, boredom, race, religion, pubic hair clogging the toilet, and the list goes on. Once the hate starts, it snowballs and even assembles itself into a snowman with an uncanny resemblance to Winston Churchill, complete with cigar and ruffled eyebrows. It is at this point that even the smallest things begin to bother you. These may include, but are not limited to, the sound of his electric toothbrush (which sounds suspiciously like your sister’s vibrator), his veritable forest of foot-fungus, the knowledge that he has had sex on every piece of common furniture he has provided to the apartment, his worryingly obsessive love of the Oakland Raiders, his “I Love Your Mom” tattoo on his ass cheek, and the frequency with which you are exposed to his “I Love Your Mom” tattoo on his ass cheek. Suddenly you friendly banter turning to angry snarkiness. Yo momma jokes become lazier, going from “yo mamma so fat, she makes the radio skip” to “I had my way with your mother using the dismembered handle of a Swiffer Duster.”
Then the passive aggressive behavior begins. When he leaves your beautiful $300 cutlery soaking in the sink for 8 days, notes like “Hey man, next time you use my decorative spoons to hot knife, please wash them afterward… also lay off the Heroin” (left on the front door of your apartment on the day of your landlord’s inspection) are definitely appropriate and even necessary. Of course, he will respond in like, curiously asking your girlfriend if you still jerk off nine times a day.
While fun, this back and forth is detrimental. You will find yourself consumed with hatred and thinking of ever more passive (and aggressive) ways to get back at your living partner. The cycle will continue until one, or both, of the parties explode like a two liter bottle of Diet Pepsi stuffed with Menthos candies, resulting in a horrific scene of gore in the form of a murder suicide (the suicide thrown in just for good measure).
Here are some way to avoid such a gruesome ending:
- Sparring, preferably (but not necessarily) with proper equipment. Plus, a little homo-erotic grappling never hurt anyone – although it may hurt your chances at getting laid… by a member of the opposite sex. If your roommate is a member of the opposite sex, be sure to lay some ground rules. Like “nothing below the belt” and “no sex”, since movies have led us to believe that most fights between men and women result in angry sex (see, A History of Violence)
- Make it a point to release some anger, daily. A simple “you prickless bastard” or “the homeless guy on our stoop is wondering if he has enough nickels to buy a blow job off you again” will do wonders.
- Get angry at someone else, together. Ridicule them openly. Whether it’s the overweight furry-lipped cat lady downstairs who only ever leaves her apartment to collect her disability check, or the guy with the fancy Bluetooth with no phone (he has no pockets and his pants are held up by a rope that was previously used as a noose), diverting hatred away from on another will ease the tension. It’s a good thing.
- Pranks! Pranks are a creative and fun way to let your roommate know you’re thinking of him – thinking of him floating face down in a rooftop Miami pool, but nevertheless thinking of him. So go ahead, leave a flaming pile of dog shit on your on doorstep! Give him pink eye! Poke tiny holes in the tips of his condoms, then laugh uncontrollably when, months later, his girlfriend runs out of his room bawling. It’s healthy!
The bottom line here is that, while passive aggressiveness is all too prevalent, especially here in San Francisco – the global home of subtlety and sarcasm – it does not need to be so. Let’s all do our part and do away with the “passive” in passive-aggressive!
[I hope my wording wasn’t too complicated, I wouldn’t want to confuse any of my kind readers]