by Slo Mo
So I got a brilliant idea the other day, and it went something like this:
A. I could use some extra money.
B. I don't like to work.
C. This house does, however, have a spare bedroom that's not being used.
D. And people pay money to rent rooms.
E. And I like money.
Ergo, C + D = A, B and E
Perfect! Why didn't I think of this sooner?
Dog and I drove directly to the community center and posted a rental notice on the info board.
"Room for rent in private home. Beach access, pool, good neighborhood. Smokers okay. Must like dogs. $400/mo incl. utils."
In retrospect, I should have sought my cousin's permission before I tried to rent out a room in her house. More importantly, I could have been waaay more specific in the rental notice about what Dog and I were looking for in a tenant. Or, rather, what we weren't looking for. I mean, the part about "no psychos, please" should have gone without saying, right?
The phone started ringing that same afternoon. And ringing. And ringing and ringing and ringing. Most of the callers were immediately put off by some of my comments, like "yes, your monthly rent would be due every month" and "no, this isn't a casting call for Big Brother" and "gee, I really don't think we have space for your entire extended family."
But from this deluge of roommate rejects I did manage to select four individuals who sounded reasonably sane, and so I invited them to come over and look at the spare room. Meanwhile, Dog and I devised a standard set of questions for each candidate:
Where do you live now?
Are you employed?
Have you ever owned a dog?
Are you a neat freak?
And would you agree to a background check?
First up was Enrico. Enrico works out. Enrico works out a lot. In fact, Enrico works out so much that he has to have his tank tops custom-made so as to accommodate his bulging manliness. Enrico also apparently can't read, because our rental notice clearly stated "must like dogs" yet when Enrico saw Dog he almost peed his little custom-made jogging shorts. Nevertheless, I managed to persuade him that it was safe to come inside.
Unfortunately, we only got as far as the first question (Enrico lives with his mommy - gee, why am I not surprised?) because when he saw the size of the spare room he was immediately dismayed that it wasn't large enough to accommodate his gargantuan Nautilus machines. Also, he wanted permission to redo the walls in a jungle motif. And he suggested we convert the garage into a Gold's Gym franchise. I told him that might conflict with my plans to knock out the front wall and turn the kitchen into a Dickee Dee ice cream stand. Haaa! That's when Enrico got so upset about "evil high-fat dairy products" that I had to ask him to leave. You can bitch about the house all you want, man, but don't be talkin' smack about my favorite food group.
The next person to arrive was Tiffany The Beauty Queen. Now, let me just say that I was totally ready to lie and tell her the place was already rented when I saw her standing on our doorstep wearing that stupid pageant sash and tiara, but Dog seemed to like her, so I told her to come on in. Tiffany declared the room to be perfect. And the house is perfect. And the neighborhood is perfect. And the beach. And the pool. And my shoes. Basically, Tiffany is a perfect, perfect girl who lives in a perfect, perfect world. She's looking for a new place to stay because her current roommate, Miss Southern Charm 1999, is getting married. Tiffany doesn't have a job, but that's because she's on full scholarship to a local university and devotes all her spare time to children's charities. Her father is a champion breeder so she's used to being around dogs. She prefers to keep her own room tidy but isn't a stickler about common areas. And would she object to a background check? Gosh no! As a matter of fact, she brought a neatly typed list of character references to help get me started.
By the time I'd finished with my questions Dog had fallen completely in love with Tiffany and was trying to fit his big, hairy body into her teensy-weensy, perfect little lap. Heck, I was starting to fall in love with her, too! So why didn't I just take a deposit and rent her the room on the spot? Well, let's just say there was something odd about her. Miss Perfect just seemed a little too... perfect. I said I'd get back to her. Then I tackled Dog so she could leave.
Contestant Number Three never showed up. Well, she did show up, just not at this exact house. I got a few calls from her saying, "I'm in your driveway, but no one answered the door." Each time, I explained that she must have the wrong house, as no one had rung my doorbell and I was now standing in the middle of my driveway, and she sure wasn't there. Then she'd call back a few minutes later and say, "Okay, now I'm in your driveway. Is this your driveway? Hello?" I gave up after a while and unplugged the phone. Wherever she is, I hope they rent her a room. Or at least a spot in the driveway.
So there I was with an unplugged phone and lingering jock odor and a dog that was heartsick over a beauty queen, and I was starting to have some serious doubts about this whole roommate idea, when...
Of course, I didn't know he was a vampire when I let him in the door. All I saw was a tall, well-dressed, vaguely handsome thirty year-old guy with a charming smile on his face and a small cooler in his hand. Dog immediately put up his hackles and bared his teeth, which should have been a Big Huge Hint that something was amiss. But I ignored him. Maybe I was too busy obsessing over well - dressed - and - vaguely - handsome - with - a - charming - smile to bother asking myself why Dog would react so viciously to a guy who looked so harmless, never mind why someone would bring a cooler to an interview. I guess I just assumed the cooler was for Phillipe's beer, or a snack, or fish bait, or something - call me naive, but I'm not really up on my Satan stuff.
Phillipe got the grand tour and then we sat down to talk while Dog stood guard over me and growled menacingly in Phillipe's general direction. "So Phillipe, tell us a bit about yourself. Do you work?"
"Uh, yes. Do you just have one refrigerator?"
"The one in the kitchen is pretty big. So anyway, what sort of work do you do?"
"I sell life insurance. But my real passion is... the occult. You don't have a bar fridge?"
"No. We don't have a bar fridge. When you say occult-"
"Would I be able to put a small fridge in my room? Because I have... stuff. And I need to keep it fresh."
"I'm guessing you mean beer."
"May I use your restroom?"
In retrospect, this is the part where I should have directed Phillipe to the nearest public pay toilet, but like a total dipdoodle I directed him down the hall to our guest bathroom, instead. When I turned back around I noticed Dog had gone over to the cooler. He sniffed at it and then stiffened.
This couldn't be good.
All I knew about Phillipe was that Dog hated him, his passion was the occult, and he needed to keep stuff fresh. And whatever stuff he was keeping fresh in this cooler was putting Dog on red alert. Hmmm... Occult. Stuff. Red alert. Red, occult, stuff. Red occult stuff. What the-- "Oh my god, Dog! Do you smell BLOOD in there?!?!?"
I'd like to tell you I resolved this crisis in a calm and responsible fashion. But what I actually did was go totally exorcist and freak right the hell out. I tried to scream but no sound would come, just a lot of hyper ventilating. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a string of garlic cloves to put around Dog's neck. Then I broke a wooden picture frame and used the pieces to make a little crucifix for myself. (I may not be up on Satan stuff, but I sure know from horror movies!) Then I phoned my neighbor, Joolz, and told her to come right over and bring a goddamn bible for christ's sake because there was A VAMPIRE NAMED PHILLIPE IN MY GUEST BATHROOM.
And then, my friends, I did the most logical thing I could think of - I fainted.
Which explains why Joolz and her fiancé found me lying on the floor with a crucifix clutched in my fist and Dog curled up on the sofa with a string of garlic around his neck, chewing on a man's shoe and still growling to himself. Phillipe and his cooler were long gone, thank god, without so much as a drop of blood. I checked my neck in the mirror, just in case, but there were no puncture wounds. Dog must have used some blood-sucking fangs of his own, god bless him.
I'm still not sure that Joolz really believes me about Phillipe. And you know what? I don't care. Just so long as the rest of you believe me when I tell you there are two things you really need to know in life:
a) it's better to be poor than to have roommates
b) always keep some garlic handy.