So, I have a new roommate and we’ve been bonding over our mutual love of Six Feet Under (remember that show?). We’re about a season and a half into our binge and I’m starting to notice this super annoying habit of hers: She snaps her gum really loudly while we’re watching the show, and she is ALWAYS chewing that damn gum. I don’t feel like I know her well enough to bring it up, but at the same time, we’ve got about 40 episodes left and it’s driving me nuts! What would you do?
--C’mon Feel the Noize Terre Haute, Ind.
I could tell you to buy a pair of Bose Noise Cancelling 700 headphones, but how would you watch the rest of Six Feet Under, and even more important, who’s footing the $400 bill for those babies? You could turn up the volume on your Amazon Fire TV or, better yet, have Alexa tell her, "It’s a stick of gum, not a bale of hay, girlfriend! ” You could even say you’ve been diagnosed with misophonia, a medical condition that triggers a flight-or-fight response to certain noises, and that you’re actually allergic to sounds. For those who are afflicted with it (and it seems you might be), the sound of gum-chewing fills them with murderous rage. People have been stabbed for eating a banana within earshot of a misophoniac! While that’s a real condition, I’m going to actually advise you to suck it up and say nothing to your roommate, or you’ll risk never finding out if David marries Keith in the final episode.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, ever wants to be criticized for anything, least of all noise pollution. I made the mistake once of making fun of Paul Stanley’s noisy shoes when I went to interview him at his Tuscan-style villa at the very tip-top of Beverly Hills. He opened the door to his baronial digs wearing requisite rock-star attire: tight 511 black Levi’s, a black V-neck T-shirt, and a pair of shiny black pointed shoes. They were really very spectacular shoes, their glossy mirror finish trapping flecks of the early-afternoon light on the surface. He caught me looking at them and said, a little defensively, “What? I like patent leather.” But it wasn’t that at all! It was that his shoes made the most annoying sound as soon as we stepped off the plush pile rugs and onto the hardwood floors.
“Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak!” squealed his shoes as we moved from the family room into a more formal living room with a gleaming black grand piano. Oh, this was gonna turn out great on my tape recorder.
“Do you...” I started to ask. “No, I don’t know how to play,” he interrupted. I was actually going to ask him if he minded losing the footwear, but I left it alone and forced myself to concentrate. Still, there was that sound again.
“Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak.” We continued the tour, following the natural curve of his surprisingly homey house into a large dining room lit by a crystal chandelier. As I examined a painted mural on the far wall, the shoes continued their own conversation with me, Paul seemingly oblivious to it all. I thought of not including the squeaks in the story, but when I listened to the tape recorder, sure enough, it was all I could hear. Every single time I listened, I...cracked up. So I did what all writers have done since time immemorial: I put the shoes in the story! Before I left his house, Paul promised to send me a really rather fab painting of his—he had painted a similar one for Jimmy Page—but it never came. I soon found out why. The next time I saw him a year later, he made no mention of the story, or the painting, except to ask, “Were my shoes really that loud?!” Poor rock stars, can’t help but read their own press.
I got this new buddy at work and we were having beers the other night when the subject of ex-girlfriends came up. We were regaling each other with some real horror stories when I realized his last girlfriend—who he appears to still be really hung up on—was someone I also dated, like, five years ago. I probably should’ve said something, but for some reason I clammed up. Do I cancel this budding friendship to avoid some awkward shit down the line or what?
--Put the X in Ex Orinda, Calif.
As much I hate to be the one to break it to you, buttercup, you’re going to have to unclench your jaw and spew out that secret like Lance Ozanix puking at the end of a Skitzo show if you’re planning on continuing this bromance. What we have here is a lie of omission, which on the scale of untruths is just short of a ticking time bomb. Or as they say: “The truth stays in the undergrowth, waiting to be discovered.”
Say, for instance, the friendship progresses. You and your new pal are at the Ohana Fest together, and right before Jack White is about to go on, whom do you spot but Miss Thing working her way toward you both? She’s probably got her latest victim, er...beau trailing behind her carrying her four bottles of VOSS Water, and she spies the two of you and starts snickering. Yes, snickering. Narcissist that she is—remember all those early horror stories?—she tosses her magnificent blond dreads back and squeals, “How the hell do you two losers know each other?!” There’s going to be a lot of ’splaining to do if you don’t tell your cubicle chum right now that you used to date the same girl. Otherwise, he’ll think you’ve been laughing at him all these months. Or worse, pitying him.
Maybe, just maybe the two of you will bond over your mutual pain-cum-animosity toward this Slayer of Hearts. Or if your pal really isn’t over her, maybe you can give him some insider tips on how to win her back. Stranger things have happened, and believe it or not something good might come out of it. Like the time 1 was attempting to interview the pre-Leather Tuscadero Suzi Quatro back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Roe v. Wade had just passed, and “Can the Can” was in the top spot on the U.K. Singles Chart. I want to repeat that: attempting to interview her. Women’s lib hadn’t yet hit the mainstream, and despite us both being from Detroit, we weren't sisters. I tried every journalistic trick to get her to give me more than an eye roll and a monosyllabic answer, but no luck. At least, not until we figured out we had dated the same guy in high school! The floodgates flew open, confessions were forthcoming, and factoids tumbled out of her mouth like coins from a winning slot machine. Yup, it was a real jackpot of rock-star arcana for me. From whether Jeff Beck wore a wig (he didn’t), to Gary Glitter’s workout regime (you don't want to know), to Alice Cooper’s grooming tips (nonexistent), to Eric Clapton’s junky eating habits (the other kind of junky: wolfing down chocolate bars in his car). As for the guy? He’s a world-renowned interventional radiologist, and yes, we both stay in touch with him.
My boyfriend and I just moved in together and all of a sudden he thinks it’s okay for him to pee with the bathroom door open. Not okay! I mean, I get it, it’s intimate, he feels close to me, blah blah blah. But...gross! I feel like I need to nip this in the bud before he takes it to the next level. (I’m not even going to elaborate on what that means, it’s too disgusting.) Help!
--No Open-Door Policy Cambridge, Mass.
Oh, my little shy flower, what bothered you the most? Was it just too early for this level of intimacy? 1 mean, you did move in together, so you knew the day would come when you would have to stop going to bed in Chanel eyeliner and Agent Provocateur undies. Sooner or later you’re going to have to grab your ratty bathrobe, not wash your hair for five days, and pass gas in front of him if this relationship is going to last. Your boyfriend peeing with the door open is his way of testing the waters of the relationship. And speaking of testing the waters: If he starts peeing in the bathtub while the two of you are having a soak, that’s something else altogether.
You should be glad you didn’t move in with Iggy Pop. The last time I interviewed the Ig, on the big grassy knoll outside his man cave in Miami’s Little Haiti, he announced at the end of the interview that he had to take a piss. “No problem,” I said, “I’ll be right here.” But he didn’t budge. He just unzipped his faded jeans, pulled out his infamous member, and began peeing six inches from my left foot! And no, I wasn't wearing sandals. So, in conclusion, peeing in front of someone always means something. You just have to figure out what. Before you ask: No, I never interviewed Pop again. But to quote “Stone Cold” Steve Austin: “It’s better to be pissed off than pissed on.”
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