Living with a psycho: a true story (Part III)

This is the third installment of an epic trilogy about love, hate, passion and drama. But mostly about one man’s mind completely coming apart. If you don’t want to get lost in the sea of madness, make sure to read Part I and Part II before you embark on this final chapter. Those who have already done that, here we go…

The first thing I’d done when inside the room was to lock the door. I wasn’t naive. I didn’t fool myself into believing that this would stop Bent if he eventually decided to act out his favourite scene from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I knew that, at best, this move was going to simply buy me a few extra seconds. If all those years in front of TV had taught me anything at all, it was that wooden doors rarely presented serious obstacles to homicidal maniacs in a state of psychotropic trance.

“Hi there! Couldn’t help but notice you were trying to avoid getting chopped into pieces. Shall I drop by later?”

Looking around my room I had come to a sad conclusion that I was grossly unprepared for “maniacal flatmate” emergencies. The only thing that came close to a weapon was a Swiss army knife. This was promptly placed by my bed, just in case I had to end up trying to scratch Bent to death. In the meantime, Bent was still outside pacing about and murmuring bits and pieces of disconnected phrases. Among them the word “fucker” was the most prominent and intelligible. This mad monologue went on for at least 30 minutes. You see, when you have a loyal following of invisible fans, presence of actual people in a conversation is purely optional.

As Bent’s rambling continued unabated, I’d realised something truly horrific. Bent was consciously working himself up into a “battle frenzy”, just like his Scandinavian ancestors used to. That meant I needed to beef up my defences. Under the assumption that Bent could be carrying a gun, I tried to find a long-range weapon. What I ended up with were a few D-sized batteries from my synthesizer…because it’s common knowledge that a well thrown battery travels faster than a bullet.

Thus, armed with a scratching tool and a few glorified stones I tried to get some sleep. Needless to say, I didn’t get much of it. But I survived, although deep in my heart I was sure that only one thing had saved my life that night: the Viking Warrior Spirit that possessed Bent simply didn’t know how to operate a 21st century door lock.

The next morning I told Bent I was moving out, upon which he admitted that he’d been “a bit harsh” the night before. That was like saying that Saddam Hussein was “a bit of a douchebag”. Bent was strangely calm. This meant that either he was temporarily exorcised, or my decision had not come as a surprise to him. He must have had the exact same conversation with each of his many prior tenants. Bent and I agreed that I would try to adapt to his crazy rules until I moved out. In return Bent wouldn’t be mailing parts of my body as Christmas gifts to randomly chosen recipients. It was a fair deal.

“Hey Timmy, do you want to open the unmarked one with bloody fingerprints all over it?”

Over the remaining weeks Bent’s moods alternated between quietly loony to feral. You know, standard schizophrenic stuff. However, I was now busy checking out new places to live and generally tried to spend as little time at home as possible. This meant I avoided further near-death incidents…almost.

One day I wanted to book the laundry room. However, I had forgotten which of the two “reservation” keys were mine (don’t forget Bent’s ownership fetish) – blue or black. Lulled into a false sense of safety by the fact that Bent hadn’t tried to stab me in the eye or rip my head off for two straight weeks, I headed to the kitchen to ask him a seemingly innocent question: “Bent, which key is it I’m supposed to use to book the laundry room?”

Bent was standing by the sink and washing dishes. He was wearing nothing but his boxers, which of course was a huge step up from just wearing nothing. As soon as I asked the question he had let the dishes drop into the sink with a loud clang. He placed both of his hands slowly onto the kitchen counter and stared at me for a good 10 seconds without saying a single word. It was just like a moment of awkward silence on a first date, with the added flavour of one party contemplating manslaughter. Finally, in what can only be referred to as “overreaction of the century”, Bent essentially yelled the following:

“Is there something wrong with your MEMORY?”

Well Bent, not as much as there’s wrong with your chromosome count, certainly. Please note that up until that point we had literally not spoken for weeks. There was no single logical reason for Bent to go crazy. Then again, when your brain is 80% toxic waste and 20% forces of darkness, logic isn’t exactly your strong suit. He continued with:

“The blue one, I told you to use the BLUE one!”

Understandably shocked by the outburst I tried to ask Bent what was wrong, to which he responded:

“I think you know EXACTLY what is wrong”.

And he was right, of course – I knew exactly what was wrong. It was called “bipolar disorder“. Bent very politely asked me to “please leave his kitchen”. Since there were at least two of Bent (that I knew of) and only one of me, I had done just that. (CONTINUE TO PAGE 2)

Living with a psycho: a true story (Part II)

If you’re just joining us on this trip down memory lane with hilarious and murderous characters, make sure you check out Part I first. The rest of you, welcome back. Let’s pick up right where we left off.

I’d moved in some days after signing the contract. Very soon I’d understood that Bent was very particular about the concept of ownership. He had a very clear BYOTP policy – “Bring Your Own Toilet Paper” that is. Yup, he had his roll of toilet paper locked up safely inside his room, and expected me to do the same with mine. This, of course, was a tragic and inevitable legacy of the infamous “Copenhagen Paper Crisis” of the 1970s, when toilet paper was a rare and precious commodity and people had sold their cars, houses, wives and internal organs to get their hands on it. Thankfully, everyone was saved when aliens had landed in Denmark in 1978 and introduced all those advanced toilet paper factories to the population.

Above: Denmark's official currency prior to 1978

It didn’t end with toilet paper rolls, however. I had been assigned my own cupboards, my own side of the kitchen and my own shoe space. I’m sure Bent would have also split the entry room space equally between us, but the logistics of that exercise had been too much for him to grasp. Indeed, most tasks must be difficult when every waking moment of your life is spent yelling at the voice of Lucifer in your head to shut up.

Surprisingly, I had managed to live under those conditions for almost two weeks without any incidents. I had my own room with a lock on it. Bent had his. I had been away most of the time at university or my part-time job. Meanwhile, Bent had probably spent his days out in the park muttering incoherent gibberish to passers by, or collecting twigs and branches for his “Things That Look Like Human Bones” collection. It wasn’t until the third week of our co-existence that events had truly begun to unravel. One evening I came home to find this note on “my” side of the kitchen counter:

Post It Notes: For when simply speaking in tongues isn't deranged enough

The note provided conclusive evidence that it’s possible to sound polite and eerily ominous at the same time. My transgression? I had washed my dishes and left the washing liquid by the sink. You know, the way us non-insane folks do. Bent of course wanted my washing liquid to be on my side of the kitchen. The sink, which lay right between our two halves of the kitchen, was effectively “no man’s land”. Those of you who know history will also know that you just don’t mess with no man’s land. Once the washing liquid had broken those boundaries, it was only a matter of time before a full-fledged conflict was ensured. And here’s how the escalation happened…

It was a weekday, it was shortly after 22:00 (that’s 10PM, my American fans) and I was in the bathroom using an electric shaver. Suddenly, I’d heard a knock at the door and Bent’s voice (crazy sporadic word emphasis below is fully his):

“I am not so pleased about you using my facilities after ten o’clock in the evening!”

Whoa, what the fucking what now?! Firstly, toilet and kitchen were shared facilities that had been included as part of the rental agreement. Secondly, in the “normal people world” private kitchens and toilets did not have closing hours. It’s the only way our modern society found to resolve all those “midnight starvation” and “morning bladder explosion” incidents that had plagued our less fortunate ancestors for centuries. Thirdly, if Bent’s House of Forgotten Sanity was a place where above standards didn’t apply, that should have been the primary topic of discussion prior to contract signing, not freaking energy-saving light bulbs!

You see how my above reaction was naïvely based on rational people’s logic? Do you know what happens when you try to apply that logic in your dialogues with crackpots? No? Well let me tell you. (CONTINUE TO PAGE 2)

Moving hosting providers: another “fun” project

You may remember that but a few short weeks ago I bitched about hosting my own website and all of the technical difficulties that entailed. Subsequent weeks have been spent wrapping my head around the ins and outs of getting a website up. Two days ago I’ve finally felt happy enough about the way my site was set up. I was ready to stop being a site administrator and to start being a blogger. Alas, it was not meant to be.

You see, I have finally bothered to read the “terms of service” of my hosting provider. And by “read” I mean spend more than 2 seconds it takes to scroll down to the end of the ToS page and blindly click the “I Agree” button. To my absolute horror, I have found this in the “PROHIBITED USES” section:

“Profanity. Profanity or profane subject matter in the site content and in the domain name are prohibited”

As any other rational and self-respecting blogger, my immediate reaction to the above was: “What kind of fucking bullshit is this?!”. I can’t decide what language to use on my own blog?! What if my fictional character is a foul-mouthed alcoholic ex-cop? What if one of my readers comments on a post and says “OMG ur so fucking funny i just literally died laffing, LOL”? Before you ask – yes, all of my fictional characters are action movie clichés and all of my blog readers are teenagers who watch Jersey Shore to improve their IQ and cognitive abilities. Bottom line: I cannot possibly be expected to monitor not only my own posts, but also any discussions on my site.

“But surely these guys won’t just shut down your site for using a few swear words here and there”, you may be thinking. That makes you both reasonable and dead wrong. They have done this numerous times and have even allegedly shut down a guy’s website just for discussing poker. Why? Because fuck him for talking about card-based fun! They also have an anti-nudity policy so strict that if you want photographs of people in your blog they better be wearing a hazmat suit or Easter Bunny overalls.

Wait a minute! This girl is clearly showing way too much…ear

Also, the “no nudity” policy effectively rules out links to all pop music videos, since the boundary between pop and porn has been crossed well before Janet Jackson had her famous “wardrobe malfunction” incident. I don’t want to speculate whether “butt” is considered profanity every time I post. If I’m reviewing Dirty Harry movies I don’t want to wonder whether I should write that Clint Eastwood cocked his gun or, ahem, roostered it.

My hosting contract had a 30-day “money back” cancellation policy, which was good. At the time I’d realised this I was on day 28, which was less good. I had two days to pick another host (and make sure they had a more liberal content policy), register another domain name (I wanted a new one), move my whole blog to it, then remove it from the previous host and cancel my contract. If it sounds overwhelming, it’s because it freaking is. Especially when you have a full-time job.

Moving site content is an easy and relatively painless process…provided you know how to create and backup MySQL databases through your cPanel, export data to and from your FTP, and correct queries in your HTML, CSS, and WTF code. And we all know that stuff is taught to us in kindergarten, right? Since I wasn’t tech-savvy enough to do all of that, but OCD enough to give a damn, I had to manually recreate my whole site from scratch on the new host. This took up exactly 127 hours of the free time I’ve had in the past two days.

But I’ve made it! I have a new and fancy “nest-expressed” domain name, a liberal host, a shiny new blog, and social media pages to market it. So now all I need is YOU, my readers! Because let’s face it, laughing at your own jokes is pretty damn sweet, but laughing at your own jokes a bit too often gets you a one-way trip to an asylum. With that said – go read my stuff, subscribe to my blog, and help spread the word. I even have fancy “share” buttons to help you do so, right below this post. So go ahead! You don’t want me to end up in an asylum, do you?

Living with a psycho: a true story (Part I)

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.

…along with the mysterious chalk outline in the corner of my room

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.

“Yup, seems like a pretty accurate depiction of reality to me!”

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.

This may or may not be the actual receipt

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…