Around this time of year, the resolve and character of many students will be tested. A challenge has emerged that will, in the end, separate the men from the boys, the strong from the meek. No, I’m not talking about trying to rush the field after the football team pulls one of its greatest victories against Michigan State in my four years as a student — thanks to the compassion of the Ann Arbor Police Department, you will be maced, beaten and arrested for trying such a simple expression of student pride — nobody has a chance in that contest.
I’m referring to the madness that is the Ann Arbor housing search, a process so competitive and emotionally charged that, in the final hour, will ultimately result in a shockingly excessive amount of erratic, ridiculous behavior and needless estrangement of many friendships. You think I’m joking? I wish I was.
Consider this: For the past month or so, dozens of groups of students have shown up on my doorstep to check out my humble abode: a seven-person house in a prime location on Central Campus. One group of guys told us that they really, really liked the house. They liked it so much, in fact, that they camped outside of our realtor’s office since Saturday morning, waiting, like a bunch of hippies gathered outside of Jerry’s shrine, in tents and sleeping bags. The realtor’s office opened on Tuesday. Tuesday!
Even worse, they weren’t the only ones fortified (NOBODY was getting ahead of them) at the office. At least four or five more groups were waiting in line, anxiously trying to seal the deal on their dream house. The only saving grace of this ordeal is the fact that Campus Corner was just across the street — if you’re going to camp out, why not have a little drink, right, canteen boy?
Aside from generating absolutely absurd behavior, the student’s terminal search for housing often results in soap-operaesque drama. You want to find out who your real friends are? Go hunt for a seven bedroom house on Greenwood. My original plan to live in my fraternity house (or crack house, they can be used interchangeably) fell through at the end of freshman year after the house was condemned and all of the sophomores living in it were evicted, so with three weeks left of school I had to find a house — and fast. With 22 of us trying to figure out where to live and with whom, the life was not easy.
After finally discovering a house suitable enough, we decided to draw room picks. However, one of my roommates and close friends decided at this time to inform us that if he drew the smallest room, he wouldn’t be living with us anymore, leaving six of us to saddle a seven-person rent or try to find a new house in the middle of finals week. Of course, I got last pick and landed the smallest room while he got the second biggest. If you’re reading this right now, buddy, I lied, I’m still mad at you, and I want my $20 back! Good thing for him, at the time I took the high road and forgave him for his incredible selfishness. Sadly, rapprochement such as ours does not occur often — I still know many girls who are definitely not as close as they used to be before they began looking for housing, even though their whole fiasco occurred a few years back.
In another development, a girl who wanted our house this year, after finding out that we couldn’t sign our lease over to her, handled the situation in the most mature, utmost respectful way — she had her mom call my roommate and bark at him to “give it up.” Unfortunately, he couldn’t give the poor girl anything but an invitation for a date, but, after losing her prospect of living at our house, she soundly declined. And she was so flirty when she thought she could have our lease …
All of this, of course, begs the question: Why do people care so damn much about where they sleep at night? My only guess is that many people have an idealized image of exactly what their dream house — like their future mate, except perfect houses don’t require dinners at the Olive Garden — should be like, and if someone gets in the way of their dream, it’s fair game to step over their face with a golf cleat in order to turn the dream into reality. Perhaps the guys camping out for three and a half days saw visions of beautiful women flowing out their front door, practically begging to enter “the pimpest house on the block.” Maybe my friend saw himself incapable of building the ultimate home theater system in my tiny room, and shuddered at the idea of being unable to host his nightly X-box tournaments. Maybe the group of girls who had one of their mothers call us liked the way our stained carpet matched their blinds. I guess in life, some important questions must go unanswered. Like, is there life on other planets? Or, whatever happened to Pauley Shore?
Adam doesn’t mind being homeless and giving up his house to a needy renter — as long as she’s hot and willing to date him. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.