10 Tips to Living On A Couch Rent-Free And Not Being Killed by Your Roommate
My parents came to visit two months ago. I was a good lad. I showed them my apartment, did the walk around Central Park, took them to the inestimable P.J. Clarkes for burgers and Guinness. For a full weekend, I acted like a hyperactive cruise director, both because I genuinely wanted to provide a good time during their limited stay in New York, and because I was doing everything possible to avoid a particular conversation—this ONE thing that I really didn’t want to discuss. It was broached several times, yes, but I’d swat the advances each time, like a Dikembe Mutombo directly beamed in from the 1997 Atlanta Hawks. In Times Square: “Hey, is that Al Pacino?” In front of the Empire State Building: “Hey, did you know a plane hit this in the ’30s?” In Chelsea: “Hey, I tell you I think I might be gay?”
Finally, the weekend ended. They hugged me goodbye. My mom grabbed me by the shoulders. “We know your lease runs out this month. Where are you living in June?”
Broaching the Situation
I’ve now lived on a couch for almost a month. It fucking sucks. I’m not going to say I feel homeless or anything over-dramatic—both because that would trivialize the shittiness of actually being homeless, and because I do have Internet and said couch—but you really do feel unmoored. Even a bro used to living in the dumpiest of senior-year dumps begins to feel that closing-in feeling. That feeling that someone is always peeking over your shoulder. That you’ve invaded your buddy’s palace, and that you’ll ultimately get your Red Wedding for storming his King’s Landing.
Anyway, when you’re broaching the subject of an extended sofa crash with a friend, don’t actually bring up this inevitable psychic toll. You will come across as bizarre and slightly insane, even though, if my current mental state says anything, this will be an inevitability after two weeks. Tell your friend your situation in as emphatic a manner as possible. Use the phrases “In this economy,” “Rental situation is brutal,” and “I’m just figuring things out.” Pull up an online list of new apartments you’re looking at. Grunt. Point at one place that looks reasonable. He’ll understand.
Do not talk about paying. The onus is on him.
(NOTE: This is very lame, and you should actually try to work out some sort of payment.)
Bringing Shit In
You’re allowed two trash bags, not including bedding. That’s it. Bringing anything else—lamp, chair, collection of vintage pornography—gets more frowned upon than living in the corner of a living room. You’ll stow these bags in your Special Corner, alongside what quickly becomes your dirty clothes pile, which will grow rapidly because you never figure out where the laundry room is located. At this point, you’re really just trying to model your life off the dirty, bearded guy from Oliver & Company. And if you get that reference, well, sweet.
You will not be able to cook. Crashing a couch is one thing, crashing a kitchen, and getting rice stuck in the corner of the stove, is a whole different level of degeneration. Stock up on the microwavable dinners, and offer every now and then to grab take-out for the “house.” Pitching in on beer will be a necessity, and, at soon, life will seem like an extended sleepover—you two will drink nearly every night. This is really unsustainable.
Through the magic of centralized cooling, air somehow doesn’t reach the couch-level quite like it does a queen-sized bed. Your nights will consist of kicking off and putting back on sheets, and you’ll look, to an impartial observer, like someone suffering from a 102-degree fever.
Invest in a sleeping bag (at least it’ll commit you to sheets or not), and look into buying an air mattress. The human back is not meant for 30 days straight sleeping on a sofa. It’s fun every now and then when you’re drunk and just need a place to pass out, but that same logic applies to unprotected sex.
Spending Too Much Time on the Couch
You’re going to want to really commit to being the Guy on the Couch (see above). You’ve got to stave off those feelings. You’re a guest, and that five-season Breaking Bad binge should maybe wait till you have your own place. (Also: Would you swipe the remote from Dad when you were a kid? Well, obviously, because his taste in reality TV sucks, but don’t do it here.)
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Paying for Things
This is an awkward situation. Do you pay for utilities? Cable? How much rent do you cover when you’re really only taking up eight feet of space?
What I propose is a giant rulebook for all situations like this. A modern-day guide to etiquette that would encompass: paying for a concert ticket your bro gave you; how often you should fill up the tank of a car you’re borrowing; and when to bring beer to a house party. Stuff like that. Because when crashing, it totally depends on whatever price you think is accurate. That price is not set by market prices or anything logical. A man needs a code.
Guys in the military come back from overseas with stories about this all the time: A long night out on patrol, an eight-hour window of crippling boredom, a hasty and dumb decision to jack off while standing in the desert sand. Your whack windows will mimic our fine heroes in Afghanistan. The key is VERSATILITY. Your special 11 p.m. time is gone. Be prepared for 8 a.m. weekday sessions, or 5:30 p.m. Saturday retreats, or standing over a shower while desperately trying to remember that one girl that one time in college. It’s the only way.
They will be very good. If you live in New York, you’re looking at potentially $1,500 saved in rent for a month. This will all be very tempting at the beginning of your stay.
Overall Mental State
It will be very poor. Your overall self-worth won’t be… high. And you’re really going to have to emphasize various career prospects in those calls back home to dad. (For God’s sake, don’t Skype.)
Is on your call. It’s…
Hahahaha, who are we kidding. YOU’RE THE COUCH GUY. You’ll be kicked out after a week.
Post-Sad appears every Tuesday.
[Happy man image via Shutterstock]