Lunch without talking

This house is an OK place to live, even with its rats and ants and lack of air conditioning. The rent is affordable, and I've grown accustomed to the boring neighborhood. It's a shared house, though, and the big problem is the people who share it with me, especially Dean.

It's 12:30 in the afternoon as I'm writing this, after an enjoyable morning of doing nothing. Suddenly I've become aware of hunger, so I've opened my door to step into the kitchen and prepare lunch, but...

Dean's old-fashioned noir hat is on the kitchen table, along with his briefcase. His jacket is over the back of the kitchen chair. And his bedroom door is open.

Whether the door is open or closed, any time he's home and I'm in the kitchen, he comes out to talk at me. When the door is open, though, it's a veritable promise:

If I begin preparing my lunch, Dean will come into the kitchen and start talking at me, about what I'm prepping for lunch, about what he's cooked at the restaurant recently, about what he's planning to cook at the restaurant soon, about unsalted butter (a story I've heard at least ten times), about his childhood, about whatever book he's reading, and football, and baseball, and soccer...

My choice is to listen to Dean talk, or begin an argument by telling him to shut up. Usually I former, sometimes I latter, and always I resent the choice.

What I'd prefer, what I pray for, is to step into the kitchen and prepare my lunch, with no talking at all. Dean is home, though, so lunch without talking is not a possibility.

Before Dean could step in and speak, I retreated from the kitchen, behind my closed bedroom door. I would rather wait an hour than see his face and hear his voice.

There's no time limit, though, and certainly not merely an hour. When he's going to leave the house, the very first thing Dean does is lay out his hat, briefcase, and jacket in the kitchen. It doesn't mean he's leaving soon. He might not leave until sunset.

Three hours ago, I passed through the kitchen to the john, and Dean's hat, briefcase, and jacket were in the kitchen, just where they are now, and his bedroom door was exactly as ajar.

He's not self-aware enough to know that his hat, briefcase, jacket, and open door lay claim to the kitchen; that if I step into the kitchen, it's an intrusion into Dean's territory. But it is. Any time he's home and awake, his door is open, and it opens directly to the kitchen. The open door means that it's not 'the kitchen', it's Dean's kitchen, whether he's in it or not.

Oh, how I hate the man, and his hat, briefcase, jacket, and door.

I hate knowing that if I walk into the kitchen right now and the floor creaks under me, he'll come into the kitchen and talk at me.

And if per chance the floor doesn't creak, if there's enough time alone to open a ramen envelope and add water, he'll come out as soon as the pan clinks against the burner, to say the same things he says every time he talks.

So I retreat, and stay in my room. I would rather go hungry for a while, than listen to Dean.

You'll think this paints me as a wimp and a victim, and it does, and I am. 

It's taken 45 minutes to write this, so far, so will he be gone? Very bravely I've opened my bedroom door again, to see whether Dean's hat, briefcase, and jacket are still in the kitchen. They are, and his bedroom door is still open.

I'm still hungry, so I'm taking a southbound bus to fast-food for lunch. I've done that before in this situation, and I can tell you what'll happen: I'll have a greasy, unsatisfying lunch, but nobody will be talking at me. That's not quite a victory, but it's better than listening to Dean.

And then I'll come home, and Dean's hat and briefcase will probably still be on the kitchen table, his jacket will probably still be on the chair, his door will probably still be open. If they are, he'll come out to talk at me, and I'll again have the choice to either listen or shout at him.

Probably I'll say nothing, simply step into my room, for an enjoyable afternoon of doing nothing, and talking to nobody.



  1. Some day you will miss him...no doubt due to bad aim with a frying pan.

    1. Arsenic in his spices is my current fantasy, but I fear he'd share the fatal dinner with my other flatmates, who don't deserve to die.


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