Stan’s big mistake was pornography... or something to that effect. I like to consider myself a decent, upright and patient sort of person, experienced in the manner of human behaviour and knowledgeable of the little habits that other intolerant people so love to take issue with. Yet despite my sagacity in this field, never in my life have I lived with such a repulsive individual, someone so specifically designed to try my patience and deplete my good will as Stan Cooke. I have survived workaholics, smokaholics, alcoholics and dope fiends during the course of my time spent lodging with non-familial members of the human race. Yet, compared to this one man, the vexations of all of them combined would have been a pre-paid three course meal at Rosie’s and a full-body massage from Scarlett Johannson by comparison.
I remember the day he moved in. In the fashion of a proper gentleman I came downstairs and put my hand out to greet him. Contrary to my expectations he put his hand at a forty-five degree angle to my own, pointed to the toilet door and enquired if it was unoccupied for he was “in danger of turning his white wash, brown”. I readily consented, not wishing to cause him further discomfort and hoping to take the air a little myself.
All was well after that... for the first thirty-two minutes. Approximately the time it took Stan to remove his thousand pound, sound-surround, stereo system from his car and set up the various dozen or so speakers at precise intervals about his room. From then on there was at all times the sound of what he referred to as “hard-core house” emanating from it. I found that this “music” rather interrupted my sleeping patterns, but rather than engage verbally with him on the matter I decided that I could just as easily procure some large headphones that played my own music while at home and could wear earplugs while I slept. I initially found some difficulty as the earplugs made sleeping on my side uncomfortable, but after a week and a half I eventually adapted to slumber face-up.
It wasn’t too long after that that I began to notice that the fridge was becoming rather over-stocked. I am usually inclined to buy fresh ingredients and some small dried sundries to allow me to eat for approximately a week. However, now that the fridge seemed to have become the refuge of Bacardi Breezers and other such fruity alcoholic beverages, “something for the bitches” as Stan termed them, I found I had to limit my expenditure on fresh produce and began to subsist more on tinned goods. This led to my frequently feasting on beans on toast at the end of a long day, rather than something more nourishing, but I felt it was worth it rather than creating a bad atmosphere in the house.
I began to notice after about a month that toe-nail clippings regularly collected in front of the couch between the hours of five pm and two am. I have always been a regular disposer of my toe nail clippings, setting aside Saturday morning as a time to purge myself of such unsightly disfigurements in the bathroom, before flushing them down the toilet and sweeping the floor to take care of any leftovers. Yet while I might accrue a tenth of an inch on any of my toes in that time, Stan seemed to be able to grow a fresh crop nightly, so that it might be harvested while he watched Eastenders and scattered on the carpet in some kind of ritual sacrifice. Thus I decided to increase my cleaning duties from once to twice a week. In addition to this, Stan’s commandeering of the sofa in the afternoon meant that I could no longer watch Gardener’s World, but rather than confront him about it, I thought it might be better merely to read more of the great classics as I has always wished to do and was able to maintain my aura of calm.
Come December, when the nights were short and the weather was at its coldest, I noticed that, rather than don a thick jumper, trousers and warm socks as I had done, Stan preferred to turn up the heating to sub-tropical temperatures so that he might continue to sport the casual surfing apparel of board shorts and a rip-curl t-shirt. This naturally resulted in a dramatic increase in the gas and electricity bill over the winter months, but rather than have him take offence, I said nothing and begrudged him a half-share of the bill.
I hand-scrubbed the ominous white stains from the tea towels, I bought new pots where he had burned his pasta sauce irremovably to the bottom, I harpicked the toilets of skid marks and removed the curly hairs from the bathroom sink. I did all this and refused to bat an eye. My mother began to comment more vehemently on my appearance: “You’re not shaving enough boy! Your hair doesn’t look well-kept anymore! Why are you looking so old these days Terence?! Terrence!! Terrence!!! Terrence, you fainted you must see my doctor! No, I will not suffer my son to see one of those lousy NHS GPs!” And on it went.
One afternoon after a long day at the office and a trip to my mother’s, I was at home cutting up carrots. It was the first time in a month I had been able to eat fresh vegetable and I was savouring the experience of preparing them, enjoying the slow, steady, regular thunk of the carving knife on the chopping board as it rended the carrots in twain. Then suddenly Stan comes down the stairs with his laptop and an impish twinkle in his eye. He says to me: “Cor, Tez you have gotta see this. This is well rank!”
Thus it was that he introduced me to a video of Mr Hands, an apparent fetishist of equine love, who died sometime after the filming process. I pleaded with Stan, I tried in every polite verbal form to make him cease his screening of the abominable film. I offered him my kidney and my deposit in exchange for a moment’s peace. He refused and bade me watch further. I tried once more, in the most reasonable tones I could muster. “Please Stan, do not force this on me! I beg you!” He was immune to my supplications.
I must have blacked out for a moment, because I remember very little about the connecting events, but when I did regain conscious control being held down by police whilst paramedics rushed a shocked-looking Stan out on a stretcher in a critical condition. But I must insist that I had done everything in my power to prevent that unfortunate occurrence. I took every path available to a civilised human being. So surely you can see Doctor that I am no threat to society and that the big mistake was Stan’s not mine.