Monday, December 23, 2013

the best of the BLOW OFF: my cousin almost got stabbed

Editor's note: This week, as we approach the end of the year, we'll be sharing some of the best BLOW OFF personal history posts you never read.  This is the story of how my cousin nearly got stabbed by a girlfriend he started living with by accident.  Bitches be crazy:

This whole story starts when I began living with my girlfriend by mistake. “Sure,” you think, “That’s what every asshole guys says,” but I’m not kidding. I mean, plenty of people consider moving in together a mistake after the fact, but I actually had no intention of living with this woman to begin with.

You see, at the time I was a student at UC Berkeley and Berkeley, at least in the ‘80s, had the most draconian rent control laws in the known universe. As a consequence, nobody ever built any new housing in the city and a strict seniority system grew up around apartments near the campus. Units were passed down from graduates to their friends and siblings without the rent ever going up. By 1990, after 5 years of paying my dues, I landed choice digs: a 2 bed/2 bath for $395 a month *total*. Yes, for less than $200 a month I got my own room and bathroom three blocks from campus. Even in 1990 dollars that was an unbelievable deal! On top of it, my roommate and I got along great: listened to the same music, had the same cleanliness habits, hung out together, had many of the same friends but enough non-overlap to keep things lively. In short, life was awesome.

Fast forward a few months and I am planning a couple month sabbatical to Russia (a story for another time) with my only concern: how to make sure my primo pad is available when I get back. I had started dating a woman just a few months earlier (let’s call her G) and she was in the world’s crappiest living situation: she lived with her much older brother’s ex-wife in a West Oakland drug neighborhood (I am not exaggerating – just a couple of weeks earlier the cops had come and searched the house and arrested her step-cousin for dealing crack). She had just moved to California from Michigan a month or two before and didn’t really have the lay of the land yet. My brilliant plan: why doesn’t G move in and hold my spot? By the time I get back, she will be settled into the Calif groove and can find a place of her own and I can return to the lap of student luxury.

A couple of months later (and after much drama that again is part of that other story), I come back home, ready to return back to normal life in Berkeley. I figured a couple of weeks of sharing a room with G and then she would find a place of her own and things would be back the way they were before I left. Unfortunately, fate had a slightly different plan – a couple of days after I got back, my roommate let me know she was moving out to live with her boyfriend. G’s response: “Yay! That means I can stay here and we can live together!” Uh, what? I was in no way ready to start living with this woman and never would have suggested it. The list of friends upon whom I could have bestowed the honor of this apartment was long and distinguished, and her name wouldn’t have been on it. We had only been dating for a few months before I left and I had just been back for a week or two; this was not the time to begin my first cohabitation (that's right - I had never lived with a girlfriend before). Even worse, she wasn’t even a student at Berkeley – the benefit of the three block distance was completely wasted on her! But what could I say? I wasn’t ready to break up yet either – again, it had only been a few months. And saying no to that idea was definitely a relationship guillotine. So there you have it: we ended up living together by mistake.

As you might imagine, a relationship born out of such a thoughtful and well-considered process was bound to last about as long as your average subatomic particle. By the end of six months, the writing was not only on the wall, it was on the ceiling, the floor, the windows, and the doors and on Halloween night after an argument about petty jealousies I told her that this just wasn’t working out and we had to break up. Her response? “Well, I am sure as hell not moving out and there is no way you can make me leave!”

Unfortunately, she was right. While I was off gallivanting around Europe, she had gotten her name added to the lease so it was in both of our names. The way that rent control worked in Berkeley was that the rent stayed fixed unless there was a new lease (also why everything was always handed from person to person – as long as one name remained on the lease, it wasn’t considered a new lease). So I couldn’t really do anything to kick her out and even if I could the rent would skyrocket making it unaffordable anyway. Thus began my very own War of the Roses.

After a month of icy glances, slamming doors, and mostly just avoiding each other, the situation was exactly as intolerable as I am sure you have all, dear readers, imagined it to be. To make matters worse, in the interim a friendship with someone else had blossomed into something more. It was time to do something.

Now, I will not pretend for a moment that I handled this situation delicately. There was no Hallmark moment, no gentle agreement to part but remain friends. The scene would NOT star Jennifer Anniston and Matthew Broderick or Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. Nope, this was pure assholiousness but I claim the ludicrousness of the situation as my only defense. More of a Helena Bonham Carter from Fight Club and Gary Oldman from Sid and Nancy situation. The conversation went something like this:

Me (Gary Oldman): “G, I know you don’t want to move out and I can’t make you move out, but this situation is ridiculous. This was my apartment before you moved in and you have got to move out.”

Her (Helena Boham Carter): “Fuck you.”

Gary: “Fine. Well, I’ve met someone else and if you aren’t going to move out then I am going to feel free to bring her over whenever I feel like it.”

Helena: “Fuck you you fucking asshole!”

Gary: “Whatever. I’ll be in my room.”

At which point I did exactly that: I went into my room, locked the door, and tried to ignore the mass destruction that was going on outside. There was pounding on the door, screaming, and much breaking of glass (goodbye my full set of Newcastle Brown Ale pint glasses that Chris gave me for my 21st birthday). I knew I had been an asshole, so I figured this was the price. I could cope with some noise and destruction for an evening. Yep, all was relatively fine right up until the moment my door popped open. There was G with a bit of a shocked expression standing there with a knife in her hand.

The door, unfortunately, was one of those typical interior doors with the little button next to the knob that you poke in to lock it and, of course, the little hole on the other side for a paperclip or something so you can pop it open in case your kids lock themselves in the room or something. G had managed to pop it open, but I think she surprised herself as much as she did me that she was successful. I jumped up and slammed the door back shut and jammed my foot against it. Luckily it is a lot easier to hold a door closed than it is to force it open when someone is really trying (which I was now wholeheartedly doing). I managed to reach over to my desk and grab the phone while still holding the door shut and called 911, which might be wimpy, but HOLY SHIT! I mean, she had a knife! I’m pretty sure this was not the time for heroics, not that I had either the temperament or the build to do anything but curl up in a ball and cry.

After about five terrifying minutes while G taunted my manhood through the closed door and continued trying to pry her way in, the doorbell rang.

G: “Kian, I think there’s someone here for you!”

Me: “No, I think they’re here for you!”

Followed by slam slam slam “Open up, Berkeley police department!”

She went to open the door and I instantly popped out of my room yelling “I called you, I called you!” (I am no idiot – domestic disturbance call, who is most likely to end up in handcuffs?) The cops basically separated us and calmed her down and listened to us talk about it at which point, Berkeley being Berkeley, they called in two volunteer psychiatrists as part of their "family crisis response team." There was lots of “I bet that made you feel hurt and angry, didn’t it” but in the end they asked me if I could spend the night elsewhere, which was a definite “you bet!” The culprit knife was conspicuously sitting on the ground right behind the door, which she had answered while the cops saw me come out of my room, so there was no question of blame on that front, thank god.

Epilogue: I came back the next day (with a large friend just in case things hadn’t calmed down yet) to get some stuff and figure out what status was. G was there and quietly said that she would be moving out the next weekend. Phew. All in all, a fairly prosaic end for a very dramatic BLOW OFF!

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