Miles didn’t know very much about Iggy’s roommates except that they were both really weird, but in different ways. Both of them were artistic and creative, but while Mona was alarmingly strict and terrifying, Klaus was a mouse of a man. Every time he and Miles were in the same room, Klaus physically flattened himself against the nearest wall, as if he was trying to camouflage himself into the taupe paint as an iguana might do. Iggy had met them through an ad on the internet, like Robin had met Joey. Miles assumed, based on those two examples alone, that living with people found on the internet was clearly a terrible idea. Klaus was definitely the lesser of two evils, but he did play the clarinet at the most inconvenient times, usually at night. He was so pale, he was nearly translucent. Every shirt he owned was a ribbed, black turtleneck. He owned a regrettable number of berets.
But he was nothing compared to Mona, who was terrifying beyond all point of reason. Technically she owned the condo that they lived in, which, as she was oft to point out, meant that she got to make the rules, of which there were many. A few of Miles’ favourites included, but certainly weren’t limited to:
- No pets. This was, of course, excluding Mona’s beloved cat Judith, so named for Judith Butler.
- No noise, preferably ever, but definitely after ten o’clock. This was also excluding Klaus’ clarinet playing.
- No more than one houseguest at a time, which meant that Iggy couldn’t have both her father and step-mother over at the same time. The last time they’d stopped by, her father had had to wait in the hall for a period of time.
- No smoking.
- No “unnecessary” smells. Miles had once asked for clarification on what Mona considered unnecessary and she had simply glared at him until he retreated to Iggy’s bedroom in fear.
- No misogyny. Obviously, none of them had any qualms with this one.
- Always abide by the bathroom schedule. Mona had refused to carve out any more time for when Miles was over, which meant that he and Iggy had to share her allotted twenty-five minutes every evening. Miles had perfected the ability to shower in under five minutes.
- No romantic fraternization amongst roommates.
“Out of curiosity, which of you and Klaus does she think she has to be concerned about?” Miles asked one night, sprawled on Iggy’s bed. “I can’t work out which combination of individuals she thought would be an issue. I can’t imagine that Klaus would be interested in either of you, fantastic though your legs are.”
“Do you not think Mona has a little something-something?” Iggy snorted, wiggling her shoulders.
“Impossible to tell under the turtleneck,” Miles replied.
“I’m convinced she never takes her turtleneck off,” Iggy said. “Much like a turtle’s actual neck, it has become a part of her. I’ll bet she bathes in it.”
“Well she has to,” Miles returned. “Otherwise you might hit on her.”
Mona and Klaus were artists, which made sense. Miles had assumed that from the very first instance he’d met them, and not only because Mona had been painting Klaus’ naked body when that had happened. The sheer number of black ribbed turtlenecks alone was reason enough to assume they were artists of some kind. One of them was definitely a beat poet. Mona took every chance she got to shout sentences and arguments from texts written by Judith Butler and bell hooks and Audre Lorde at Miles. He appreciated her passion, but as he was already a fan of feminism, he did wish she would tone it down even slightly. Maybe she could just tell him in a normally volumed voice.
“I wouldn’t mind, except she keeps spitting in my eyes,” Miles told Iggy, yet again hiding out in her bedroom.
“Yeah, she’s definitely doing that on purpose,” she replied, which wasn’t overly comforting.
They spent a lot of time in Iggy’s bedroom. His apartment was even more of a minefield to navigate than hers was. His mopey roommate Liam was even mopier than usual, having been dumped unceremoniously by the third woman named Sarah that he’d dated in a seven-month period.
“He needs to stop dating women named Sarah,” Ramsay said when Miles had complained about Liam at work one day.
“He needs to stop dating women altogether,” Oscar cut in. “Encourage him to take up abstinence.”
Iggy’s bedroom was slightly bigger than Miles’. Plus, it had two windows, whereas his only had one. And sometimes, though he would never admit it out loud, not even on his deathbed, Miles found Klaus’ clarinet playing soothing. Iggy’s place was the better option of two uniquely terrible options. Until, at least, Mona broke one of her own, most cherished rules, and began dating Klaus. Iggy discovered their illicit affair when she returned home early from work one day to find them sprawled naked on the living room floor doing some kind of, as she put it, “eternally traumatizing tantric yoga”. Miles didn’t believe her until he showed up an hour later and saw it for himself.
“Who knows how long this has been happening,” Iggy ranted rapidly in her bedroom. “They didn’t even stop when I saw them. And I know they saw me seeing them because Klaus and I locked eyes. That was the single most horrific moment of my life to date, by the way. That’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life.”
“I would’ve bet good money only both of them being gay,” Miles interjected, still a little stunned. He’d seen an unfortunate amount of Klaus’ scrotum.
“This might be, like, a prolonged, bizarre performance art piece,” Iggy offered, a sliver of hope breaking through her voice.
“That actually makes the most sense,” Miles nodded encouragingly. But when they emerged later in the evening to get a snack from the kitchen, Mona and Klaus were moaning uncomfortably and inappropriately loudly whilst rubbing each other with oil that smelled like hemp and dirt.
“You’d think they could at least do that in one of their bedrooms,” Miles complained, once again having seen a regrettable amount of Klaus’ unclothed genitalia.
“Well, I’ll you one thing for free, the next time my parents come to visit, I’m having both of them in at the same time,” she said it defiantly, as if she was making an enormous stand. Miles patted her head consolingly.
“I wish we would go to my apartment instead, but Mopey Liam’s unbelievably cruel mother is visiting,” Miles replied. “I tried to call her Mrs. Rowntree once, but she forced me to call her by her first name. Even Liam calls her by her first name. She won’t answer to Mom or even Mother. It’s Sarah or nothing.”
“His mother’s name is Sarah?” Iggy asked, looking appropriately horrified.
“Yeah, I know, Freud would’ve had a fucking field day,” Miles replied.
“I spend so much time in here that I’ve actually begun memorizing the cracks in the ceiling,” Iggy said, which was really quite the feat from a woman who couldn’t remember if someone ordered tea or coffee.
“We should just move out and live together,” Miles suggested, not really thinking it over. “That way we can avoid all of our terrible roommates. Maybe Mopey Liam could move in here and the three of them could be some kind of turtleneck-wearing, hemp oil-covered throuple. That might actually be good for Liam. Mona’s downright terrifying, but Klaus seems like he has a gentle touch.”
Miles looked over at Iggy, who was staring back at him with a mixture of terror and shock on her face.
“What?” He asked.
“You seriously want to move in together?” She returned. Only then did he realize what he had flippantly suggested. At first, it was a tad alarming, but the more he thought about it, the more it didn’t seem like such a bad thing.
“Yeah,” he nodded. Iggy’s facial expression stayed the same and, for a moment, Miles was afraid she was going to bolt. But then her face broke into a tentative smile.
“Okay,” she nodded as well.
Miles broke the news to Oscar and Ramsay the following morning at work.
“Iggy and I are going to move in together to escape our terrible roommates,” he announced.
“How romantic,” Ramsay rolled his eyes.