Everyone knows flatmates can be difficult. They leave their socks all over the place, hog the TV and constantly keep nagging you about something called “rent”. But what if your flatmate is an undiagnosed schizophrenic prone to sporadic outbursts of insanity?
Meet Bent. Yes, that’s his real name, and as you will soon learn it’s somewhat fitting. “Batshit Insane Lunatic” would’ve been more fitting, but less of a name, so I’ll stick to Bent. I’ll avoid using his last name. Partially out of respect for those involved, but mainly because Bent is still out there somewhere. I’ve seen enough horror movies to have a healthy fear of psychotic ex-flatmates.
But I digress. Bent is a Danish guy in his mid-fifties, living in a quiet municipality of the larger Copenhagen area. He is a proud father of three boys, has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and occasionally teaches classes in that very subject at a local high school. Also, he’s fucking crazy. In 2005 I rented a room in Bent’s apartment in a short-lived social experiment that I now share with you.
It was the last of my student years and I was moving out of an apartment that I had shared with a friend. At the time I was still a poor student. I couldn’t afford an apartment of my own, so I had to look for rooms to rent. Aided by an excellent apartment search website I had soon found a room.
It was exactly what I was looking for: affordable, large enough, in great condition, very close to where I was living at the time so moving would be a breeze. Unfortunately, the website didn’t specify that the owner of the apartment was a full-blown nutjob, so I was left to discover that fun detail for myself.
Red flags presented themselves already during the first ever meeting with my upcoming flatmate. Sadly, I was too keen on getting the room to pay attention to any warning signs. I came over to check out the place. Right off the bat Bent informed me that I was the seventh person to rent the room from him. All others had apparently been trouble and therefore “didn’t work out”. Bent also told me he was divorced and I could expect that his three kids would come to visit every now and then.
So at least seven people, including Bent’s ex-wife, had attempted to live with the guy, yet chose to abandon ship. Calculating the odds of something being wrong with each and every one of the former tenants rather than Bent himself should have been a straightforward task for a five year old. Alas, at the time most of my brain capacity was used to play the following soundtrack in my head: “I’ve found myself an awesome room, I’ve found myself an awesome room…”, so the the desperate warning screams of the sane part of my brain went unheard.
Finally, Bent said he was used to order and that if I wasn’t the orderly type I should let him know in advance. Of course, at that moment I had no way of knowing that our definitions of “order” were vastly different and that Bent’s revolved around a bizarre set of rules that made Alice In Wonderland look like a historical documentary.
A few more quirks popped up on the day I was signing the rental agreement, but all were too minor in and of themselves to be treated as signs of any disorders. Bent freaked out when I started writing down my social security number on the rental agreement (where it was prompted). He grabbed a white-out and splashed it all over the half-written number, telling me I should be careful in revealing such information as it can be abused by evil hackers. To be sure, this is information that one must present in almost any encounter with public institutions in Denmark and is barely “top-secret”. Besides, unless he himself was an evil hacker I should have be fine putting my information down on the contract between the two of us, no?
Secondly, he informed me that if I wanted to replace the light bulb in my room with another, I should not throw out the one already there, since it was an expensive energy-efficient one. I don’t know how many people are in the habit of carrying their own light bulbs to use in rental rooms, but my guess is the number is somewhere between zero and what the fuck?! Also, why on Earth should I feel an urge to throw out a perfectly functioning energy-saving light bulb? Am I an undercover agent for some twisted anti-Greenpeace movement?
After our agreement was signed Bent had apparently expected me to have had the full deposit and first month’s rent with me in cash. Seeing how we were living in the 21st century and every single one of my prior rental transactions had been handled by institutions called “banks”, I wasn’t used to bringing large sums of money to contract signings. This wasn’t some shady drug deal after all. The end result was Bent accompanying me to an ATM to withdraw the money. In exchange I got a paper receipt that Bent tore out of a small booklet he must’ve purchased in a store called “Prehistoric Articles Nobody Ever Freaking Uses Anymore”. Also, worst store name EVER.
And thus I became an official tenant in Bent’s Wacky House of Hysteria & Neurosis. To find out what happened next, go to the second installment of this gut-wrenching tale…