I went to University to learn more than I had in high school so that I could eventually become a doctor. Since there isn’t much time to work at a job while in University, and since tuition is so high, I had to share a house with six other people in order to afford the rent.
Sometimes, it’s fun living with a lot of people. There’s always someone to talk to, someone to share a pizza with, and everybody has lots of friends to invite to parties. Of course, there are downsides as well, such as more people around to make noise when you’re trying to sleep — and I thought my little brother at home was bad enough — as well as the fictional notion that someone else will eventually get around to cleaning the washroom floors. All in all though, I really didn’t mind living with so many people while at school.
Until my very last day, that is.
You see, in University you have to write exams at the end of the year to prove that you remembered all the stuff they told you while you were asleep in the back row of your lectures. If you don’t pass the exams, you don’t graduate with a degree, which means that you don’t get to become a doctor.
I really needed to study before my last exam because I had slept through a few too many of the classes I was supposed to be learning in. Luckily, there were textbooks that had all the information I needed, if only I could concentrate long enough to get it all in my head. I studied all morning while everyone else in my house was out playing in the fresh spring air. It was hard: I had to ignore the sunshine coming in through my window and the birds singing sweetly, enticing me outside. I managed to stay focused though, and learned half the book by sunset.
At that point, I took a break for dinner, and watched some T.V. with Mole, one of the girls I live with. After my favourite program ended, I returned to my desk, determined to learn the rest of the book and write an excellent exam.
I had been reading for not more than 10 minutes when Jackie, another housemate of mine, came home. She closed the door behind her with a slam! Then trotted down the stairs to drop off her bag with a series of light thuds: thud-thud thud-thud thud-thud. Then she ran back upstairs thud-thud thud-thud thud-thud to make dinner. Being taco Tuesday, she was very excited, and danced around in the kitchen with a rhythm in her head that only she could hear. Thumpity-thud-thud, pause, thumpity-thud-thud went her taco dance on the floor.
I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt her taco fun, so I just turned on my fan to help drown out the noise. I went back to my book and read through another chapter — albeit a bit slower than I would have without the noise of the taco dance thumping in my brain — when Nick came home.
He had been out playing soccer with his friends all day. Not being in any hurry to get to work, Nick sat down in his desk chair and started talking to his friends on the phone. Since his legs were still all worked up from soccer, they started to jump around of their own accord. Bump-bump-bump-bump-bump, thump, bump-bump-bump-bump-bump, thump, went his feet, making their own little soccer-inspired tap-dance beneath his desk.
And since his room is right above mine, it sounded as though his feet were tap-dancing away directly on my skull. I don’t think there’s much I can do to stop feet that tap-dance on their own after soccer, though, so rather than making a scene I just put my earmuffs on my head. Even though it was nice and warm outside, the fan was making my room a little cooler, so it wasn’t so bad. I continued to read my book; tense and nervous about my exam the next day.
Stan came home after I had barely made it halfway through the next chapter. He had just finished his last exam, and could safely consider himself a graduate. Since he was too tired to go out and celebrate over dinner at a restaurant, he just sat on his bed and turned his stereo up to full blast. Thump thump thump thump do-do-do-bang, thump thump thump thump do-do-do-bang went the baseline of his music, which is all that carried through the walls. Even my earmuffs and fan together couldn’t drown it out enough to let me concentrate properly on my book.
After trying my best to read for several minutes, and not making it more than a paragraph into my book, I considered asking him to turn it down. But I thought that he had just been through a rough exam, and had been studying all night, just as I was doing at that moment, so I decided that I should let him enjoy his music the way he prefers to listen to it. Using a towel, I folded a pillow over my head and tied it in place. Even though it was a little heavy on my neck, the combination of the pillow and the earmuffs cut off most of the noise, so I went back to studying.
I could still hear all the noise, even with my fan, earmuffs and pillow doing all they could. Reading my book became more and more difficult. I started to incorporate the noise into what I was reading: “So we see that if the integral of thumpity-thump-thump is divided by Bump-bump-bump-bump-bump, plus thump, we get Thump thump thump thump with a remainder of do-do-do-bang.”
It was at that moment that Mole, normally the sweetest and quietest member of my household, decided to do her laundry. I’m not sure if her load was uneven, if she had filled the washing machine with rocks, or if the gremlins who live inside the washing machine decided to be particularly cruel that night, but it made a lot of noise. Boomboomboomboomboom it went, slowly walking its way across the floor as it cleaned.
That was the last straw, or if you will, the last decibel for me. All I could see when I looked at my book was a searing red sheet, probably the beginnings of a headache. I stomped away from my desk, out into the hallway and screamed as loud as my lungs were capable – I could take no more. Quite a sight I must have been, too, with my earmuffs on underneath a pillow held to my head with a towel while a fan blew my skirt up to my knees.
Just then Carrie, who had been so quiet I didn’t even know she was home all day, came out of her room and shushed me. “Please, I’m trying to study for an exam I have tomorrow. Could you stop yelling?”