Three minutes and fifteen seconds with someone I hate

I'd come out of my room to zap a plate popcorn chicken, hot-topping a green salad. It makes the chicken a little healthier and more filling than simply eating popcorn chicken like, well, like popcorn.

It was about 10:00 in the morning, and the kitchen was empty. Stepping onto the faded linoleum, by habit I tossed an evil eye at my flatmate Dean's bedroom door.

He has an amazing psychic ability to know when I'm in the kitchen. Three out of four times, even when I'm quieter than the house's mouses, he knows I'm in the kitchen and hurries out to talk at me.

My hope was that he was at work, because microwaving is loud. Every button beeps like a Biblical commandment.

Why is that? Why does every microwave BEEP when any button is pressed, and BEEP so damned loudly? 

Setting the microwave for three minutes and fifteen seconds would require four buttons to be pushed, and when the chicken was done, the microwave would beep five times more. With the final five beeps I'd be leaving, headed back to my room, but the four beeps at the start could be a problem. 

Can't cook chicken without beeping, though, so BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP, and the machine might as well have shouted DEAN! DEAN! DEAN! DEAN!

Answering the call, his door opened, the man came out in underwear, and started babbling about the football team. 

I ignored him, simply stood and watched the microwave tick down the seconds of my sentence.

With a minute remaining, whatever story Dean was telling came to an end, and he said, "So, how you doin'?"

He does this with our other flatmates, and it's the closest Dean comes to having a sense of humor. I never watched the sitcom Friends, but I'm supposed to answer like Joey, and say, "How you doin'?"

That's what Robert would say, though. They're kinda buddies. And that's what 'L' would say. "How you doin'?"

You know what Doug said, of course: Nothing. Dean waited for a few seconds of splendid silence, and when I didn't take his unfunny bait he launched into another story.

Like very slow clockwork, the microwave continued counting down. Dean continued talking. I continued not talking. 

Finally the microwave beeped loudly five times, and I took my chicken bits from the microwave and poured them onto my bowl of lettuce.

"You're having chicken tenders in a salad," Dean announced, as if he'd solved a mystery.

I didn't glare at him. I simply walked into my room, ate my popcorn chicken salad, and didn't even wonder about Dean. I'd wondered about Dean for my first several months in this house, but the wonder has faded.

Even the annoyance has faded. He used to make me want to scream or strangle him, but I've grown philosophical about it. Babies cry, dogs poop, rain makes puddles, and Dean always wants to talk.

My silence annoys him, I think (or hope), so more and more I have less and less to say to him. Not even Good morning or Go to Hell. I still hate him and always will, but it goes without saying.



  1. Isn't he the one that asked to borrow your spare key for a few days? Glad you didn't, as those kind always create needless problems that, if you're not careful, begin to propagate like...well, popcorn. He probably woulda LOST those keys by day 3. Do NOT give in, do NOT speak with him EVER or a whole floodgate of woes will open and spill all over your world. Like living right next to a still-functioning nuclear reactor that's overshot its designed life span by YEARS. Hope you're doing well these days, Doug, in spite of reality.

    1. People sometimes surprise you. He borrowed my key to get his duplicated, and returned it a few hours later.

      I have manners and nice guy at the genome level. I still speak with him when I forget to hate him, 2-3 times weekly, or perhaps weakly.


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