Friday, August 10, 2007

A(n Almost Entirely) True Story About Bed Sharing

When I first decided to share a room with Trevor, the idea seemed exciting. In our mutual interest of cheaper rent, Trevor agreed to be the fourth person squeezed into our modestly sized three-bedroom apartment. The immediate benefit was obvious — our already inexpensive Carrboro apartment had become inexpensive even by 1970’s standards, and since I was to be sharing a room with him, the bulk of the savings fell in my lap. A month’s rent would become about the price of 10 large pizzas.

“Of course, we’d have to share a bed,” Trevor said.

If people actually did spit-takes outside of tired comedy gags, I’d have done one. Trevor seemed to pick up on this.

“Well your room isn’t big enough for two beds,” he started, “and I’m not paying for bunk beds, and I doubt you are either. Besides, it’s only for a few months.”

He had a point. And, I had to admit, the idea of two unrelated and sexually uninvolved men sharing a bed piqued my interest in the name of novelty. The comedic jewel of this scenario was Trevor’s girlfriend, living 500 miles away in New York City. It would be a good conversation piece, I thought, an icebreaker. I could regale people with hilarious anecdotes about it at parties. It was exactly the kind of madcap sitcom frolic I was looking for in my life. Only how would we explain things to Mr. Roper?

“Alright,” I exclaimed. “Let’s do it!”

Our friends were unsurprisingly nonplussed. “Wait, this is insane, you can’t do this,” they would say. “What about his girlfriend?”

“Not a problem,” I would reply without hesitation. “She lives in New York. She’ll probably never even come down in the few months we share a room. And besides, she doesn’t mind.”

She really didn’t. In fact, Beth was veritably jubilant over the idea. “Aw, that would be so cute!” was her response to our proposal. “You just make sure to snuggle up close to Trevor on those cold nights.”

This didn’t satisfy my still aghast friends. “Well, what if you were going to have sex?” After a skeptical and hearty, “Ha!” from me, however, my friends nodded and acquiesced. “Okay, point taken.”

The newfound presence of Trevor in my room went relatively unnoticed. His spartan decorative style did little to disrupt my room’s meticulously designed layout, save the addition of a few extra sweaters in the closet. His droll and unassuming persona was at its worst unobjectionable, and at its best mildly pleasant. He was unable to be embarrassed — everything he needed to do in the bathroom he felt comfortable doing with the door wide open. (This was a quality I found strangely admirable at the time but would later come to regret.) Though Trevor would sometimes mild-manneredly mumble on about computer programming or the latest episode of This American Life, he typically remained silent. Trevor was, essentially, furniture. It was like having a nightstand with a dry wit. Sharing a bed wasn’t even odd. We could both sleep comfortably in our roomy, Queen size bed and someone could still park a motorbike between us.

A couple of months into our new living arrangement, I took a long weekend up in Indianapolis to attend an academic conference. I returned tired and cranky from all the 5:30AM mornings I’d just endured and determined to get a long night’s sleep in my own bed. It was to my not-so-pleasant surprise that I opened the door to my apartment to find Beth and Trevor sitting on the couch. All three of us immediately attempted to mask our horrified shock with enthusiasm.

“Hi, Beth!” I shouted, trying to bare all my teeth with my grin so that the next thing I said wouldn’t seem rude. “What are you doing here?”

Trevor spoke for her. “Welcome home!” he said in an unconvincingly chipper singsong tone. “Beth is in town visiting. You’re back early!”

“Nope, right on time!” My cheeks were starting to burn from the strain of my exaggerated smile. For a moment, we quietly looked up with quizzical expressions, all calculating the best strategy for getting dibs on the bed. I pounced first. “Well, I’m beat. Night!” I briskly strolled to our bedroom, flushed but smirking.

Sometime around 2:00AM, that imaginary motorbike had finally arrived at its parking spot, and it felt uncannily Beth-shaped. I dreamily pushed the Beth-shaped motorbike out of my mind and returned to saving my high school from a swarm of locusts and Lord Voldemort.

Come 7:30AM, the Beth-shaped motorbike had become increasingly difficult to ignore, as it had begun to emit girlish gasps and moans amidst a din of smacking lips. My eyes sprung open. “This is not happening,” I thought. “This is not happening.” It was happening. I hugged the wall as tightly as possible and squeezed my eyes shut, trying to drown out the noise by humming “Show Me the Way to Go Home” in my head.

A few minutes later, what had been difficult to ignore became impossible to ignore, as the rhythm of a bouncing bed joined the chorus of gasps, moans and smacking. My entire body was rolling with the undulations of the mattress, bobbing in time with their thrusting. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a leg askew.

Sure, I could have simply left to go sleep on the couch, but my stubborn pride wouldn’t let me. I felt entitled enough to the bed to lay there in silent protest.

Looking back, I wish I had thought of all the ingenious ideas my friends had come up with later. I wish I had sat up, turned around, and stared unflinchingly at them. I wish I had started jumping up and down, belting out show tunes. I wish I had feigned masturbating. Instead, I turned to the only tool I could think of: my mother. I grabbed my cell phone and, trying to steady my hand against the jerking of the bed, text messaged my mother that I loved her.

Somehow I thought that surely nobody could have sex next to someone communicating with his mother; to do so would be indecent. I was wrong. “Who are you texting?” Trevor calmly asked, mid-thrust.

“My mother!” I huffily replied.

“Oh, neat.” Trevor and Beth continued, unfazed.

Moments later, the situation climaxed with a call from my mother. “Hi Mom!”

Bounce, bounce, bounce.

“Nope, no reason.”

Bounce, bounce.

“Just wanted to say I loved you.”


“Okay, I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.”

The bouncing had stopped. I lay there, livid, yet simultaneously impressed with their unflappability.

Beth left the next day, only to return once more during the unusual living arrangement. This time it was directly on the heels of a camping trip she and Trevor were on that was cut short by a cold snap. Upon seeing them, I quickly resumed my phony enthusiasm. “Hi! Good to see you guys! You’re back early.”

“It’s freezing out there,” Trevor said, him and Beth both visibly shivering. “We couldn’t take it anymore. We just want a hot shower and a warm bed.” Both dashed off to the shower and a sly smile crept over my face as I came up with a clever ruse.

A few minutes later, a scream came from within the shower. Trevor popped his head out of the bathroom door. “Is the hot water heater broken?”

“Oh yeah,” I lied. I had turned the washing machine on and flushed the other toilet as soon as I heard the shower come on. “It’s been like that the last few days.”

“Nevermind this,” he said. “We’re going to a hotel.”

I smirked to myself as I walked back to my room and settled down for the night all alone in my roomy, Queen size bed.

The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent, lol. :|

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