I clean up after all your meals. You fall asleep on the couch. You never leave the house. You bark when someone knocks on the front door. You have your own personal trash disposal under the couch. You shed. You are my best friend.
No, you are not a 250-pound Newfoundland, but my lazy, randomly assigned freshman roommate, Brian Mitchell Smith III, from Short Hills, N.J.
We are very different, you and I.
While you might like to sleep in, drink directly from the faucet, and, even though it has been five months, have yet to do your laundry, I set my alarm for 6:51 a.m. every morning, drink from a clear glass, and have my laundry sent out every two days.
While I have created a routine for myself, including how long I brush my teeth in the morning to how many pieces of lettuce go on my afternoon sandwich, I do not even think you know that you have classes or that our shower is down the hall and not in our kitchen sink.
While many people with my particular lifestyle are medically advised to live alone and be put on several doses of different medications, I prefer not to.
Brian and I are the Felix Unger and Oscar Madison of the 21st century. I have tested many theories in the physics lab as to how the school concluded that we would be comparable living mates. Through countless probability tests, calculations, and bar graphs, I have come up with the only possible theory: This is a bet between the rich, retired gambling addicts on the University Board of Trustees who wish to feel alive again.
That said, even though I do not know how Brian feels about our situation, and sometimes I think he doesn’t even know I am his roommate, he has once called me Mom and tipped me for helping him with his luggage on move-in day — I have learned to look on to the bright side of the trash.
I have taken extensive notes as to why this living situation has worked out to my advantage:
1. Natural science majors like myself, look out! Such a mess can help you gain the research project you have been waiting for. Because the beastly living mate cannot throw out the trash nor clean up after meals, meat sits in a bowl and trash bags pile up, festering for about a fortnight. Both trash and food remain untouched, resulting in a maggot neighborhood beginning to colonize, hold elections, and run a mini country, Maggotzlovia, on your kitchen counter, and you can record what kinds of mutations form when they try to expand their empire by conquering and mating with the flies.
2. For any of you, like myself, double majoring in film and media studies, you have literal take-home projects that you can document without leaving your room. I have documented a man able to eat three-day old pizza and uncooked pasta, wash it down with juice straight from the pickle jar, and manage to not move from the couch for approximately five-and-a-half days. I star as the underdog protagonist who, by sifting through trash, finds triumph.
3. Filling a dozen trash bags everyday and taking them out to the dumpster in one trip, in addition to lifting the couch above my head in one hand to vacuum with the other, has made me toned and buff. Walking around and cleaning up after the mess is great exercise and helps the circulation in your blood flow better, giving you a natural glow before beach season.
4. There will be communal blankets, towels, and unfortunately, underwear that you will have to wash and you will only have time to do laundry at night, which is great because who does not love to fall asleep to the background noise of the dryer which sounds like a middle school band practicing a drum acoustic version of Bohemian Rhapsody. This constant hum and rhythm will remind you of being in the womb and rock you fast asleep. But don’t worry about oversleeping because, like clockwork, Brian’s mom will call every morning to check up on him, and you will have to answer the phone and talk to her for an hour or four. However, this gives you great people skills, and Mrs. Brian’s mom is also in charge of a major laboratory in New York City and is very interested in your maggot experiment. She also owns a movie theater where she can screen your documentary.
5. Lastly, the sink. Now as I said earlier, I like to drink out of clean, fresh glasses. Brian prefers to drink out of old, musty jars. When you first look at the sink, you will see a mini landfill. A 2-by-2 foot tub of week-old mashed potatoes, chicken fingers, something that I think used to be a soda of some sort, which has been knocked over by a mountain of plates with rusty food stuck on them, flooding the entire sink. And then there is a family of cockroaches using a toothpick to kayak through the soda-tsunami and to safety. Because I am the only one who will do the dishes, I have very nice-lemon-fresh-smelling hands and very soft and clean skin because of course you will begin to moisturize if you want to keep those pruney, dried up, grandma-fingers smooth.
I have to say Brian, though the whole school, including the board of trustees, may have been skeptical of our relationship, I think it worked out perfectly. I like to say that I made the best of the situation, but I think that would be an understatement. I am now a well-known celebrity, with my own brand of lotion, with skin like a baby’s bottom. I have been called to the U.N. on account of being the only person to understand the new fifth world country — Maggotzlovia. I have written and sold books and videotapes about how to stay toned by doing work around the house, and I am, overall, a natural babe-magnet.
And you, Brian, never gave me a hard time, still live with your parents, and got to watch this all happen — you lucky dog. So if any of you have doubts about your living mate, have no fear. If you stay positive and play your hand correctly, you never know, you could become like me, Bradley Cooper.
Stern is a member of the class of 2013.



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