At the end of my anarchy/vegan/warehouse days in Emeryville, when things had fallen into drug use, drinking and, God forbid, college rock, I invited my high school friend Eileen to live with us. Bobbie, or King Anarchy as we called him, had moved out in a huff due to our lack of commitment to the cause. We had only four months left on our lease before we were legally evicted, so it didn't really matter that Eileen 1) had a penchant for dried flowers and Stevie Nicks; 2) dressed hippie-ish, not in the standard-issue torn black and 3) was only a vegetarian. We compromised our pristine values and invited her into Bobbie's old room.
Late one Friday night, while Amir and I were responding to the record label mail at the dining room table, we heard the front door open. It was around 3 a.m. and we assumed it was Eileen. The trap door to the kitchen creaked opened and slammed shut. Eileen, or whomever, was in the kitchen fixing a snack or going to the bathroom. After a few minutes, she hadn't come in and said hello, which was odd. Eileen was very outgoing and friendly.
It sounded like water, falling water. Somehow I knew water was cascading down the stairs from the kitchen to the bedroom hallway. I jumped up and found Eileen with her pants down, ass in the refrigerator with the crisper pulled out, peeing. Standing in the doorway, more concerned than appalled, I said, "Are you all right, Eileen?" The blank look on her face scared me. "Eileen, are you all right!!" I said with more force.
Like a fire alarm in the middle of the night, she clicked backed to reality, finding herself with her pants below her knees and her bare ass resting on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. She quickly pulled up her wet pants and ran passed me, down the stairs, and out the door.
Amir joined me in the kitchen. "Brotha? Is she okay?" Amir was one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet. He came to the US from Iran in 1979, had problems with plurals ("Brothers, I got new pair of shoe!") and hated the police, specifically BART police. I loved him for the latter. "Brotha, did she pee in the fridge?" Amir asked incredulously.
"Sure looks like it." I was still a bit stunned and not sure what happened. I was almost sure that she had drank too much, drove home, and blacked out somewhere in-between. The anarchist side of me — the sensitive side, in tune with women's issues — thought that maybe she might have been assaulted and this was a result of the assault. Of course, I was completely wrong, but it made me feel important to show empathy for the oppressed, even if it was my white roommate from Pleasanton.
Amir and I did our best to clean it up. Luckily the majority of her urine formed a rather large puddle in the bottom of the crisper, with an old head of lettuce. The rest of the pee splashed on the floor, forming a urine trail to where the trapdoor and concrete floor met, falling about six feet to the bottom of the stairs and then to the hallway. She had a lot of pee in her.
We dumped the pee in the crisper in the toilet and wiped down the floors, fridge, and stairs. It wasn't spotless, but neither were we, so it didn't really matter.
The next day I called Eileen's mom's house. I figured she was hiding out there until it all blew over. She knew that I lived for moments liked this and it would never be over; although; she knew that I really didn't care either. It would just be another story that I would bring up years from now.
It went to voicemail and I left a message: "Eileen, this Greg. It's no big deal, we all pee in the fridge every once in awhile. Come on back, nobody cares."
After watching The Simpsons with her mother, Eileen returned late Sunday evening with a grocery bag full of food. TV was unacceptable and considered brainwash and she knew it, so it was odd she mentioned it. It almost appeared as defiant, like she was testing us.
She apologized for the fridge incident, shrugged and said, "Watcha gonna do?" There really was no right answer to explain peeing in a fridge. It was new, untested ground.
That night Eileen cooked Mexican food for us: corn tortillas, lardless beans, veggie rice, avocadoes, and sour cream. Amir and I looked at each other and mouthed "sour cream." Sour cream contained diary and dairy came from cows and that was a big no-no in the anarchist book of right and wrong. She was testing us.
Since she had just peed in the fridge, we gave her a break by not saying anything. We cleaned up and Eileen nonchalantly put the leftovers in the fridge. She never asked if the fridge was clean.
A thick wall of eighteen inches divided the fridge and bathroom. I posted a sign on the wall that said "Fridge left; bathroom right." Closing the fridge, she noticed it. She looked at me, shaking her head and said, "Fuck off." We all laughed. The elephant was out of the bag.
That night Eileen went out and didn't return until after we were asleep. The next morning she didn't get up until late in the afternoon. This was not uncommon except in front of her bedroom door was a pair of red men's shoes and a wet towel. We all were very intrigued. Around three o'clock Eileen and her mystery guest appeared. His name was Vance. They met at a bar the night before. Vance was one of many guys that left his shoes and wet towels in front of her door.
Later that week, Steve (other roommate) and Amir approached me and said they were really upset about the sour cream. We came to agreement that I would ask Eileen to leave for bringing dairy into the house.
The next day I pulled Eileen aside and told her we were all upset about the dairy and that she needed to find a new place by the end of the month. She took it well and moved out without fanfare.
Years later I would live with Eileen again in a small one-bedroom in the Mission. Things had gone downhill, sliding into alcohol abuse, relationship problems, and lots of late-night boys. It got so bad that she seemed to be bringing a different boy home every night. I asked Eileen for a favor: "Eileen, I can't keep all these guys straight. Would you mind if I just called them all Larry?" And from that day on, every boy that came into our apartment after midnight, smelling of booze, was introduced to me as Larry: "Greg, this is Larry." They would look at Eileen and she'd reply, "I'll tell ya about it later, Larry." And off they'd go into her bedroom.
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