Last night, I had a horrific dream:
I had the whole flat to myself and was making the most of it, shouting “Quickly, Donkey, quickly” amongst other phrases to myself in a Scottish accent as I ran between my open-door piss in the bathroom, to the kitchen, where my popcorn is starting to burn. I’m wearing pants, nothing else.
Then I heard a bedroom door open and close, and the front door open and close. Someone had been in. I woke up.
Actually, I didn’t wake up; it wasn’t a dream, but it is recurring. And it happens too frequently for it to be okay, but also somehow not often enough for me to be more cautious when it’s not clear whether others are in. An inevitable mental-forensic investigation always immediately follows the sound of the front door closing. I recount everything I’ve done over the period of time in which I thought I was home alone, looking in particular for anything that could be potentially humiliating if overheard - it’s the weird shit I do on autopilot that worries me most. Usually I’m lucky - I find nothing so humiliating that I won’t be able to explain myself.
But what if, one day, I do something so humiliating in the same situation that there is no possible explanation I can give? It’s entirely within the realm of possibility. So, plucked from my experience of routine embarrassment, I’ve written a list of worse things you could have been doing before realising your flatmates are home, just in case you’re like me.
Commentating on your poop... with the door open
Shitting isn’t just a natural process, it’s also a game which you have a disproportionate chance of winning every time you play, like playing football on your own with an open goal and no opposition. GOAL. Not hard to miss.
Loud sex... with the door open
This one requires a partner. Bonus points if you make use of one of the communal areas.
Listening to ASMR through speakers
Having a private haircut in your room? No. That’s the sound of a stranger waving a pair of scissors around and snipping in the air on YouTube.
Trying on your flatmate’s drying laundry
Ever wondered how you looked in your flatmate’s dress? Now’s your chance to find out.
Doing impressions of other people
I definitely get curious about what people I used to know are up to nowadays. It’s a very easy way to procrastinate. Sometimes, images of people you used to know can evoke memories so vivid you have no choice but to do an impression of them. Let’s just hope your flatmates don’t know them too.
Searching your flatmates cupboards
Risky, not just because they’ll think you’re stealing. But because it means you don’t truly respect their privacy. You may know that you aren’t going to take anyone else’s food, and that you are just genuinely curious (beyond reason) about the purchasing choices other people make. They might not see it that way.