The Talk

It would be easier this way, they said. Simpler. So much less awkward, so much more honest. This way, during this potentially-very-awkward transition, no one would have any misconceptions. It could be much worse if you were surprised later. Much, much worse. Better to get the weirdness out of the way.

“So,” you start. You stare at your brand-new roommate as you try to remember what your UGA said about these conversations.

“Communicate openly with your roommate. Some people have never had roommates before, and some people are more shy than others and take longer to open up.”

Real great advice, Undergraduate Advisor.

Her back is turned to you. She’s unpacking her things from a big cardboard box that she could probably fit into. And you could tell by the room arrangement that she’d moved in first.

“So.” You start again. “What’d you think of our first floor meeting?”

She looks over her shoulder—small face with big eyes and a small mouth. “Kinda boring. TBH I didn’t really want to live here.”

“Oh.” Interesting. Did that mean she was going to move out? Did you even need to have this conversation?

“I mean, we’re so far away from the rest of campus and all the parties. I don’t want to get drunk and slip on ice or something coming home. If that happened, I would probably like, sue the school.” She shrugs. “I’m taking it up with the administration. And I didn’t even get a single!”

You do the math: a double all to yourself? You could get behind that.

“Yeah, that’s so true.” You nod encouragingly.

She starts making her bed, rearranging her Lilly Pulitzer “First Impression Hotty Pink” duvet and “Let’s Cha-Cha Turquoise” pillowcases. They don’t match your own brown and green diamond print. Your high school friends would be disappointed—photos of their matchy-matchy rooms have flooded your Facebook feed.

“I don’t think they’ll let me move out though,” she says as she starts lifting photo frame after photo frame from her box and setting them on her bed. “Like, that you have to have a serious issue to move out.”

“If you have any very serious issues with your roommate—or you think you just aren’t the right match for each other—please come talk to me or your dean. I can put you in touch with other resources to make the situation better for everyone.” 

Visions of a private double vanish from your head. You probably couldn’t do anything bad enough to get a dean involved.

“Plus I heard that they don’t let you move until the end of the term, but that’s ten weeks away.” She rolls her eyes at the ceiling and pulls out what must be her twelfth photo frame.

You definitely can’t wait ten weeks to have this conversation with her. Ten days, maximum. You’re stuck with her. Time to be blunt.

“So, do you think we could talk a little about private time?” you ask.

“What do you mean?” She picks up another picture and sighs adoringly: a poodle.

“Like, time when each of us just has the room just to ourselves?”

“Oh like you can’t study with other people around? I can’t either! Do you want to have like a weekly schedule or something where—”

“Vibrators,” you cut her off. “I’m talking about vibrators.”

“It’s best just to be honest with your roommate about expectations for public and private areas. If you feel like you need to, set up times when you know the other person will be gone, like at class or practice.”

Her gaze darts toward you, eyes Furby-wide.


“Vibrators,” you let the word buzz through the air again. It hangs there.

“Like for massages?”

“Like. Vibrators. You know? Private time?” You’d really prefer to keep it PG.

“OH. You mean like.” She looks around as if the word were written on one of the walls. “OH.”

“Yeah, like, you know.” You swallow audibly. “Just so neither of us walks in on the other…”

“Oh, you won’t have that problem with me,” her words audibly fall down the stairs. “I don’t do that, I don’t have one. That’s not really my thing, I’ve never gotten into…that.”

You just nod. You’re not sure how else to continue. She might not have gotten into it, but you did. She shuffles toward her picture frames and starts rearranging them, avoiding eye contact. It’s your turn to start looking around the walls.

“You…” You cringe, trying to figure out how to ask. “You don’t have one?”

“No, oh my gosh. Why would I need one? Do you not get enough?”

“Wow. Shots fired,” you say before you can stop yourself. “Maybe I don’t want to get it on with everyone I meet.”

“I don’t get it on with everyone I meet,” she snaps back.

“Yeah? So tell me how Orientation Week has been?” You weren’t going to mention the not-one-but-two-or-three occasions you saw someone half-kiss, half-slobber on her in the hallway. But this feels like justice. “What was the first one’s name? Jacob?”

For a second, she just stands with her mouth slightly parted, face blank. Thoughts are moving behind her eyes, but you can’t tell what they are. They’re camouflaged in Lilly Pulitzer.

“College can be a place where people push their boundaries, but some feel pressured to become an entirely different person. Only do what you’re most comfortable with, and make sure you’re making the right decisions for you, whatever that may be.”

“Wow, you’re seriously judging me? When you’re the one who wants private time because you can’t find a guy who wants—”

“Fifteen minutes with my vibrator is better than any hookup I’ve ever had.”

“Sounds like you’re doing it wrong.”

“You’re telling me you’ve never wanted to Netflix and Chill solo?”

You hear a knock at the door. “Hi, is everything okay?” You both freeze.

After a second, there’s another knock. You’re closer to the door, so you open it—your UGA tries to cover up his grimace with a smile.

“Hi guys,” he says. “Is everything okay in here? We can hear you down the hall,” he tries to smile again.

“Oops, must have been our television!” You laugh awkwardly. “Sorry, we’ll…we’ll turn it down.”

You close the door and turn back to your roommate, but she’s looking at you with her face squished up, as if she were trying to analyze a Monet.

“Solo Netflix and Chill?” she mutters, going back to her box.

Taking a seat at your desk, you pull out your laptop. “Maybe I can get my dean involved after all,” you think.

You open an Amazon webpage and place an order for a hot pink vibrator, the same pink shade as her comforter. At least you’ll have one matching thing.

“As you’re settling in, it’s important to know that when you’re trying to ship things here, you don’t send them to your dorm room, you send them to your Hinman box. All Hinman boxes are listed online, along with those of your classmates.”