I looked up from my cereal. Shannon, my rarely-seen, quiet-voiced roommate stood at the head of the dining room table. Her dining room table. Most of the furniture in our apartment--the plaid, countrified stuff of craft malls--was hers. Given a chance, I would have donated it all to the Salvation Army. Or set it on fire.
"Sure. What's up?"
"I just wanted to talk to you about Kirby." She blinked wide doe eyes at me. I waited, spoon poised over my cereal bowl. "Kirby doesn't like it when you keep your door closed."
I would have choked on my cereal had I been chewing. "Kirby...doesn't like it?"
She nodded. "Kirby really doesn't like it closed. It makes him feel left out. Maybe you could consider leaving your door open for Kirby."
At that very moment, Kirby wound around my ankles, purring.
This was not the first roommate conflict that Kirby and I had, mediated by Shannon. My conflicts were never with her. Only her cat. A Manx, to be specific, a tailless breed of cat that often behaves more like a dog. They love attention, hate moving, and are much more social than the typical independent feline.
Since I had moved into the apartment with Shannon, a friend of a friend who became a roommate out of my financial desperation, Kirby had been acting out. Kirby didn't like that our apartment didn't have a balcony. Kirby didn't like that Shannon had a new boyfriend and was often gone long hours. And apparently, Kirby didn't like closed doors.
First Kirby ate all of Shannon's house plants, throwing them up in various places around the apartment. Including my bed. Then he began plotting his big escape, hiding beneath a pink and gray flowered chair by the door. When I came in or out, Kirby would bolt, sometimes making it down all three flights of stairs outside. He was an inside cat, which meant each time he escaped, I had to hunt him down.
I neglected to tell Shannon about the recent conflict Kirby and I had. The one where I held him by the scruff of the neck over the railing after his latest Houdini.
Kirby had grown immediately still, perhaps sensing the distance between him and the sidewalk three stories below. "I will drop you," I had said, leaning close into his face. (For the record, I would not really have dropped him.) "If you keep running away, I will drop you right over the side of this balcony."
That heart-to-heart seemed to work. Between my threat and my closed door, Kirby's acting out became focused on Shannon. And apparently, Shannon didn't like it. She also did not like, I suspected, feeling like she was sneaking into my room to "borrow" my straightening iron, which I often found still clutching strands of her curly hair. The open door gave more of a sense of common property, an okay to use my things when I wasn't home. Both to her and to Kirby, who for his part, liked leaving his hair (and hairballs) on my bed.
I looked at Kirby, still nuzzling into my legs adoringly. I looked at Shannon, still blinking at me with wide eyes. Then I spoke very slowly.
"I'm sorry that Kirby doesn't like it when I close my door. I don't like it when Kirby spits hairballs up on my comforter. So I am probably going to keep my door closed, whether Kirby likes it or not."
She pursed her lips and went back to her room, but Kirby continued to purr underneath the table, pressing his wet cat nose to my calf in a kiss.
Linking up with Yeah Write this week, with the least passive aggressive bunch of online roommates you could find. Stop in to see what all the noise is about. Kirby likes it.