I sent the following e-mail (which I've since edited) to friends and family on September 22, 2001. -- rpj

The Deal with my Roommate

[I feel compelled to write this. I can't keep track of who does or doesn't know my roommate so I'm sending it to everyone. If you're not interested, please press the delete key.]

When my roommate showed up on our doorstep in April, homeless, Jeremy and I said we would be willing to take him in indefinitely (but not permanently), provided he:

1. Followed the house rules (which are very simple)

2. Held down a job that paid him money.

3. Helped out significantly around the house (i.e., wash the dishes, help clean up, take out the trash, do laundry)

4. Contributed to the grocery fund

Before Jeremy passed away my roommate adhered to Nos. 1-3 and we never made an issue of No. 4.

After Jeremy passed away, my roommate went into what I now see is a standard mode for him, i.e., he ran away, both physically and emotionally. He went back home to his hometown (a couple of hours from Houston) repeatedly, usually with no advance warning and little or no indication as to when he would be back. (And I've never known his mother's telephone number.)

Likewise, when he returned to Houston he spent his time sleeping or watching television or talking (endlessly) on the phone or went clubbing. Helping out around the house became sporadic at best; eventually I was picking up after him more than he was picking up after me.

Ditto, he wasn't doing anything substantive for his employers, friends of ours who live nearby. When he worked, he did a good job. But doing any work, apparently, was more than he was willing to do. Eventually, sometime in mid-August, they told him not to bother coming back.

Two weekends ago I told my roommate that things needed to change. With half my income gone, I really can no longer afford to have a nonpaying roommate. I definitely can no longer afford to have a nonpaying roommate who doesn't have a job and who doesn't help out around the house. I told him that he needed to find another place to live by the end of October. I even gave him a check, dated October 31st, to help with his moving expenses and said that I'd be willing to write a new check for an earlier date if he found something *before* October 31st.

My roommates's response was, by this point, fairly predictable. Two days after I broached the subject he said he was going home to take care of his mother (who is two years younger than I am) who was "sick." And that he'd be back Friday night or Saurday.

The week passed and, as usual, the phone rang off the hook, friends of my roommate calling to find out where he was, what he was doing, etc. Eventually, the weekend arrived and it passed, too. No word from my roommate. Finally Monday evening a friend of his called in a panic saying that the DVD my roommate had rented on his Blockbuster card was way overdue and that he was being hounded by Blockbuster to return it. A friend who stopped by shortly thereafter was kind enough to take it back for me.

Two days later the same friend called and wanted to know why my roommate wasn't back, what had I said to him, what was going on, etc. I lost my temper. I pointed out that my roommate was the one who appeared to have abandoned his friends, not me, and that I wasn't his social secretary, or his dad. Said friend proceeded to give me an earful about how my roommate, who is 22, is just a child who needs to be supported and guided and doesn't have a job and needs a break etc.

Well, I'm not having it. My children are in Atlanta, not Houston, and other than myself I don't support anyone but them.

As of today I have boxed my roommate's stuff up and taken it over to the home of a mutual friend, where my roommate can retrieve it when it's convenient for him and that person to do so. I have sent a letter to his home address in his hometown indicating that that's what he needs to do, that he's no longer welcome in my home, and that I want the key back.

I'm sorry it's come to this but I won't be put in a position of having to explain to my roommate's friends (yet again) where and why he's gone. I wish him well but he needs to do his growing up on his own time.

Thanks for listening...


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