When I would tell people that my roommate was Beth, it was like telling them that my family member was dying of cancer.
“Oh,” they’d say, and trail off. “Beth…You mean Crazy Beth?” I’d nod and they would try to sympathize, but I knew deep down they were thankful it was me and not them who had deal with it. Eventually they’d say, “I’m so sorry,” and I’d agree with them that yes, these were indeed tough times, and thank them for their support.
What I found out was apparently Beth wasn’t even supposed to be my roommate. Initially she’d been assigned to another floor, but she came across as so crazy she scared the crap out of her soon to be roommates. I imagined her having the first conversation with her new BFFs. But instead of the normal getting to know yous like, “College is going to rule. Ohmigod I have posters too! Eddie Vedder? The only thing better would be if he like, played a ukulele!” it was probably more like, “I can hear bees speak.”
So Beth was outted as the Crazy Girl on the Floor, and her original roommates requested that she be relocated. Which she was. To my room. Without me knowing.
My freshman year, my dad dropped me off at college and Beth was moving in the same day. Instantly we both could tell her eyes were a little too buggy to equate to sanity. We sensed that her heightened perkiness was a little off, possibly medicated. It was–she informed us within the first hour meeting her: Prozac and Ritalin—Her friendliness was genuine, but unstable. Her spine seemed caffeinated and she walked on tiptoes. Just to walk around on tiptoes, like there was a chance she could burst out of her skin at any moment like the librarian in the opening scenes of Ghostbusters.
Beth had the kind of blank stare that would make you think she was trying to ignite things with her mind and just washed her hair free of pig’s blood.
She wasn’t my only roommate. Roommate number two was Sondra. She was a butch black woman majoring in radio with a minor in complaining about living in the dorms. She was twenty-six, but according to her daily mantra she was “too old for this shit.”
If it were up to Sondra, the floor would have been carpeted in cotton balls, and people would be properly corked before going to bed. A popular game for the college students in the dorm was to pull the fire alarm at four in the morning, leading Sondra to go on a tirade. She’d parade around in her bathrobe muttering under her breath, “I ain’t going downstairs at three in the morning. I’ll put the fire out myself and go back to bed. It’s too damn late for there to be a fire. Tell that fire to come talk to me, and it will put itself out. Motherfucking fire is too goddamn loud. I’m too old for this shit.”
I think if there actually had been a fire, Sondra would have scared it out.
If Beth as your roommate was like telling people your family member had cancer, the additional fact that Sondra was the other roommate was like saying your dying family member had also been diddled in the ass with a rusty eggbeater. “Oh my God,” they’d say. “I can’t imagine what you must be going through…How does a person deal with something like that?”
Our room remained a three piece for a few months until eventually we got a fourth roommate named Dana. She was a sweet girl from Ohio that had a strange and noticeable addiction to Betty Boop paraphernalia. Other than that, she was normal and down to earth.
Before Dana moved in, Beth had managed to snag a boyfriend named Jeff after inviting numerous gentlemen into our room to sign her “autograph sheet.” The autograph sheet was a large white sheet she’d tacked onto the wall and requested that people sign like a yearbook. We took it down when she realized the marker had been bleeding through onto the white walls. That, and we had a problem with her inviting strange men she’d met on the internet into our apartment to sign a sheet on the wall.
Beth’s boyfriend, Jeff, was a sweet guy. He probably had never had a girlfriend, and honestly might have been a little slow. But they were a good couple, like a Harold and Maude sort, and spent a lot of time together, which we were thankful for.
The first night Dana arrived, she was busy hanging her Betty Boop posters, setting out her Betty Boop towels, making her bed with her Betty Boop comforter, when Beth popped in for an introduction.
I was in the other room, I heard Sondra screaming, “Oh my God! That’s nasty!” as Dana cackled with confused laughter. Beth decided to let Dana know the real her, really fucking quick.
I came out of the room and saw all three of my roommates gathered at the front table looking at pictures. Call me a prude, but I’d prefer a handshake rather than sharing sexually explicit polaroids on the first greeting. Not Beth. Images of her scrawny boyfriend’s boner seemed to be the perfect way to let Dana know where she was coming from. In order to explain that she was studying art and painting, she showed the picture of herself with a paintbrush inserted into her very own pink palette. But really, how can you not be best friends with someone if they haven’t seen the picture of your hairy asshole?
Dana impressed me. I don’t know if I could let something that shocking roll right off me like she did. Apparently Betty Boop was more like Betty Buddhist and she just laughed at this nutty bird.
“Oh my…” she said as Beth’s pale breasts caressed a semi-hard dick. “Whoa, and here’s this one!” she laughed as Jeff’s awkward cum face was captured on film, one hand around his penis, the other hand chained to the closet door.
I left and fled to my boyfriend’s dorm room.
The year went on. And I had the typical freshman year experience. I ate Ramen noodles, I got drunk on Rolling Rock, Sondra brushed the toilet with Beth’s toothbrush, I tried pot for the first time, Beth decided that she’d like to go off the Ritalin and only do Prozac for a while, Beth imitated the fire alarm and beeped around the house in her underwear, and our dorm room housed about fifteen giant “Rugrats” dolls, which complimented Beth’s “sketches” that decorated our walls.
I fled and moved to another dorm room halfway through the year.
Oddly enough, Beth and Sondra stayed roommates for the remaining of the year. Dana eventually transferred schools, but I don’t think they ever filled that fourth roommate space again.
The following year I did not return to the dorms because I did not want to taint all the precious, wonderful memories I had of the previous year. Then, over winter break I heard some startling news about Crazy Beth.
I was told that Crazy Beth died in a car accident while she was in upstate New York. Crazy Beth was dead.
What the fuck? What. The. Fuck.
I never liked the girl but I didn’t wish death on her. When I heard she wasn’t going to be around anymore to mimic the fire alarm, sure there was a feeling a loss of another human being but Crazy Beth was a broken individual. I wondered if people like Beth were better off dead because their crazy actions would probably get them killed anyway. Then I felt bad for feeling that, then I just said “What the fuck?” again. A lot.
All of us who had known her that year were completely confused with how to react. Because now we had all these wild stories about Crazy Beth but the end wasn’t, “Oh man, I wonder what that girl is up to now. She sure was crazy.” We had this abrupt and jarring ending to all the stories, “And when she’d get pissed at me, I’d hear her repeating my name over and over when she took a bath…And now she’s dead.”
“There was this one time that she put all the hot dog buns in the Kool Aid pitcher…And now she’s dead.”
How did she not die sooner?Her parents shaped her into a functioning adult as best they could; they kept her safe, taught her right from wrong. She went on to make choices, some innocent, some questionable. She was a mentally unstable individual that would misfire a synapse and get into a dangerous situation. And she left this earth in a non-crazy way. Black ice on a highway. That’s crazy to me.
“She played ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on a loop for like, a half an hour, and was always walking around in her underwear–Can you believe it? What kooky times…She’s dead now, so, uh, yeah, she probably doesn’t do that now…Since she’s dead…fuck.”
I only lived with her for six months and she passed way about 15 months after I met her.She made a really big impression on me. Because she was bat shit crazy.
Crazy Beth, may you rest in peace.
I still wonder what happened to those Polaroids.