by Margot Leitman

I am a firm believer that there are two types of people in this world: those that live in fear or bumping into their enemies, and those that LIVE to bump into their enemies. The latter can categorize me. Clarisse, my first roommate in New York City, however lived in constant fear of her enemies. Her biggest enemy was Ed Lauder, A.K.A 'Fatass,' due to his huge, shapely, womanly ass. Apparently his ass wasn't the biggest part of him, because Clarisse hated Fatass because she claimed he had stolen all of her rent money in college for a breast reduction. The war with Fatass was the first in a series of Crimson flags that I should NOT move in with my college acquaintance Clarisse.

The apartment was on Ludlow Street in an old tenement building. The building was far removed from the cool, artsy, and trendy, part of Ludlow Street. Instead, it was located on the part where lots of Chinese men lug dead fish in and out of a building constantly. It was a three bedroom, the third bedroom being kept open for the owner, Heshie Liebowitz (his real name was equally cartoonishly Jewish) who was allegedly a millionaire songwriter, who wrote songs for divas such as Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson and Paris Hilton. Supposedly he lived all over the world and just needed a place to crash when he was in NYC, which was just a few days every six months. Clarisse said we wouldn't even notice he was there.

A week later, I found myself living in a run down tenement, with a sixteen year old super and Heshie Liebowitz home 24/7 shitting with the door open. He was overweight, spoke with a lisp and a click, and referred to me only as "Megan" no matter how many times I corrected him. After showers he dried himself off with my dishtowel. Most days would start by weaving through the dead fish carts in the street trying to shake off the sight of once again witnessing Heshie's bowel movements.

I thought that Clarisse and I would end up best friends by default. After all, nothing bonds two people better than a mutual hatred of another. Instead, I slowly discovered that Clarisse was both unstable and abusive. When Heshie blew a fuse for the third time by plugging in both air conditioners at once, rather than asking him to stop, Clarisse took a soldering iron to his ac plug and made it impossible to work. She would scream at me for not washing a glass with the same intensity as if I had left a baby in a hot car. On days I got yelled at, I would come home and there would be fresh cup cakes baked for me on my bed or sometimes even a new outfit.

Clarisse also had a boyfriend, who was constantly sitting on a $100,000 record deal. Shortly after Clarisse lost her job and Heshie had been gone for a few months and I had been bought off by yet another carrot cake, she asked me if it would be ok for her boyfriend to stay with us for a week. She told me that he had just gotten back from a tour, and that he just needed one week so he could look for a place while his record deal was all being solidified. She said he would even help out with rent. I told her that if it was just a week that would be ok.

When the boyfriend moved in, I became unwelcome in my own home. They dominated the living room and ruled the apartment. I came home one day to find a full drum set in my living room. "What's this?" I asked rhetorically. "Umm" she paused. I think it's a drum set. The only positive about our place was that it had a squishy toilet seat, like my Jewish aunt had in the eighties. One day, after the boyfriend had been there for over a month with no rent paid, I went to use the bathroom and it felt like I had fallen in. I jumped up and saw that the squishy toiled seat had been replaced with a cheap white plastic one. I ran out to yell at Clarisse. She told me that "Ass stuff pieces could get stuck in the squishies" and this was much more sanitary. Besides, it was a gift from her boyfriend. "See, he can't help out with things like rent, but he contributes in other ways, like the toilet seat." I told her I didn't want the toilet seat, I wanted rent money.

My temp agency at the time had a policy that you could come in on standby and sit and wait for work. It was called "Ready2Go!" and it made me wish I had made very different choices in life than to sit in a temp office all morning reading US Weekly and praying they wouldn't call my name. If nothing came by noon in they would pay you a little and then send you on your way. This snowy day they sent me home, which normally would have been a dream come true. But I hated home so much that at noon I went to go see the creepy movie about Hogan's Hero sex addict starring Greg Kinnear and Willem Dafoe called "Autofocus." As I sat there alone slowly listening to lonely men masturbate to the creepy Willem Defoe sex scenes onscreen all I could think was, "This is so much better than home."

The movie finally ended and I realized I needed a plan B. I made a few calls, and by the time I got home I told Clarisse and her boyfriend that I was going to housesit for a month and the boyfriend could sublet from me. I would need a full month's rent in CASH now. The boyfriend walked away and then returned, sat down in a big fluffy chair and fanned out $650. I didn't know where it came from and I didn't care. Suddenly I wasn't on Ludlow Street anymore, I was in "Carlito's Way" and screaming things like "Where's my money?" became completely acceptable.

I left telling them I had to go work things out with my photographer friend I was housesitting for. When I came home I found Clarisse, her boyfriend, and Heshie all sitting on the couch waiting for me, as if it was some sort of intervention. Heshie started, "Megan, you're going to have to leave. I've been speaking with Clarisse and she told me that she is scared of you and that you have been abusive towards her. She's told me everything and I've decided for her own safety that I will have to sign the apartment over to Clarisse and her boyfriend."

"Scared, scared of what?"

"It's just that you're such an angry person," said Corinne.

"Angry!" I said, and then I punched a door so I didn't punch her in the face, "What the fuck are you talking about!"

She slyly looked at Heshie and said, "I rest my case."

I then laid into her and said, "You manipulative bitch. You wanted this apartment for you and your boyfriend. But you're both unemployed and knew you'd never get approved for one. So you made up some story about me being an abusive monster when I wasn't even there to defend myself."

"Maybe so, but that's just how it has to be right now."

"Congratulations Heshie, you've just signed your apartment over to two unemployed conniving assholes. I'll be out in a few hours."

Just then my cell phone rang. My friend whom I was about to housesit for was calling to tell me that his darkroom was flooding and I was the only person who had keys to it. Could I please go there and take care of it? I told him it was a bad time but that I would do it. I told Heshie, I had to go help a friend and that I would be back in an hour to get my things. He followed me out.

"Hey Megan, are you really going to help your friend out in the middle of losing your apartment?"

I answered honestly, "Yes, what else am I supposed to do? My friend needs my help."

Heshie looked as if I had just punched him in the stomach. He then looked me in the eye and said, "You're a really good person. Do you want the place?"

"No!" I said. "That space is tainted. Clarisse deserves to live there. Let her handle it. I've got to go."

After I helped out my friend I came back, through all my stuff into garbage bags, and called a guy I knew had an unrequited crush on me to help me move out. I then went on to fantasize every single day about bumping into Clarisse and telling her exactly what I thought of her. I imagined that I would be holding some sort of cake and would see her from behind. I'd gently tap her on the shoulder and say:

"Clarisse? Clarisse? don't turn around you know who this is. You really hurt me Clarisse. I thought you were my friend, and you completely deceived me. You are a horrible person Clarisse. You can turn around now." And then I would hand her the cake, tilt my head and say, "Happy holidays." And slowly I'd walk away, leaving her thoroughly confused.

A few months later, her deadbeat boyfriend did get a six figure record deal; he dumped Clarisse right after. I was elated.

Right around that time I received from Fatass, Clarisse's college housemate who allegedly stole her rent money for a breast reduction.

The email read:

"Hey Margot it?s Ed Lauder from college. I heard through the grapevine that you were living with Clarisse. I was looking to get back in touch with her. Could you pass my info along to her?" I clicked on his website and saw that Fatass was now working as a Neil Diamond impersonator and that sealed the deal for me. I wrote him back right away.

"Dear Ed,

I no longer live with Clarisse, but here is her cell phone number, home phone number, email address and home address. And please, please, please do tell her you got it from me."