Living With Monkeys: The 10 commandments of co-habitating with other primates.

Living With Monkeys
The 10 commandments of co-habitating with other primates.1995
Caleb John Clark

I ‘m in my mid-twenties and sometimes I think I was born and raised by a different species of monkeys than my roommates.

Here’s the problem. Some roommates simply break the laws of communal living, and like serial killers, seem to have no remorse and just go on doing it. When I protest I get flack for being stuck on petty details and penny pinching, usually by my other roommates who know I’m right but don’t want to deal Mr. Conflict, evil incarnate for us twenty somethings who’ve lived through their parents’ divorce. Instead we just smile and fight with ourselves. I guess when we’re all retired and sunning in Florida we’ll just spontaneously combust.

But guess what? I’M RIGHT, the petty details are important. And Mr. Conflict can be your friend, especially if he prevents you from blowing up on a bench in Florida.

It’s not the money, it’s the concept. Let me take you through some sample logic: Since the days when we swung from trees eating bananas, it has not been cool to eat someone else’s food without getting permission. It strikes a deep cord when someone opens a refrigerator and eats something they didn’t buy, or ask for. It’s like being in a restaurant and having a total stranger walk up and take your slice of cheese cake.

In the old days you would simply take a big stick and beat the shit out of someone who messed with your kill. Nowadays, you say something weak like “um Joe that was my broccoli, I’d appreciate it if you’d ask before you steam it next time.” Which might be replied to with, “sorry dude, I’ll give you the thirteen cents it cost, got any change?” You wish for a big stick, but you just shake your head instead.

Another common problem is that some monkeys seem to operate on the principle of doing only the dishes they use, but you’ll notice that the sink miraculously fills up if everyone does this.

Call me arrogant, call me egotistical, but I think I know how monkeys should try to live together. Living with other monkeys is like being married. It means that everyone should feel like they’re doing too much all the time. When you live with other monkeys you have to clean up their dirt, and they have to clean up yours. That’s the only way a house can stay sane.

Recently, I found my bananas mysteriously absent from their home and I was driven to my limit. With no stick around I decided to vent my anger by writing up the ten commandments roommates should follow. If you have a problem in your house, hang this on the fridge and see what happens.

1) If you didn’t buy it, and you didn’t ask, don’t touch it.

2) If you put things in the garbage/dishwasher, empty the garbage/dishwasher.

3) If you walk on the floor/carpet, sweep and vacuum the floor/carpet.

4) If you use a bathroom, you’ve got to clean it, and yes that means even that part behind the seat. And that means cleaning up other people’s pubic hairs. Suck it up – you’re momma ain’t gonna’ do it anymore.

5) If you want to be slob monkey, live with other slob monkeys. If you want to be clean monkey, live with other clean monkeys. If you want to be in-between, find in-between monkeys.

6) If you have a band of Bohemian gypsies coming to stay for a week, ask all your other roommates before you say they can come. Once they’re visiting they’re your responsibility. If they leave a mess and go back to Europe, you have to clean it up.

7) If you want to eat big healthy communal meals, you have to contribute to the shopping, cooking, and cleaning of the dishes and kitchen. If you can’t make the time, don’t eat the food.

8) If you use other people’s things, return them in the same, if not better condition, than when you borrowed them.

9) Everyone should pay for what everyone uses. Start a petty cash coffee can that everyone pays into when they pay rent. Then when you need more dish soap, toilet paper, paper towels, Windex, etc. you don’t have to stress about who pays.

10) If you can’t handle these rules, find your own tree.

Seems rather harsh, but don’t get me wrong, everyone is going to lapse and get lazy sometimes. We all have bad days, even weeks, and you’ll compensate when someone else is having a hard time. Sometimes the entire house will have a bad month and the place will get trashed. This is not a problem if everyone living in the house is part of it. Eventually a big clean-up will be organized out of necessity because everyone will have noticed that no one is coming over to visit anymore.

But when these kind of rules are consistently broken people walk around seething under polite smiles, fighting about who buys toilet paper, or compensating by cleaning up all the time instead of dealing with it. This makes for sad monkeys who have shorter lives because of internalized worry. Like the famous film director John Houston said, bloodied after loosing a fight with a bigot, “If you see something wrong you have to do something about it, otherwise your guts will turn to puss.”

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