You can read this series from the beginning here.
I opened the door to my apartment and let Colin inside. "Well, here it is," I said.
"Crikey," he said.
Actually, he didn’t say "crikey." And his name wasn’t Colin. He said something that I can’t repeat on this blog, because it was very foul language and I try not to use foul language in case it might be triggering for people who are more sensitive about that kind of thing. Like Selena Gomez or someone like that. Not that I think that Selena Gomez reads this blog, but in case she does, or you know, someone like her who was raised in a wholesome Disney environment, I want to keep the cursing out of it. And that was hard with Colin in my apartment.
After the British election, our office had brought in several Labour Party operatives over to help out with messaging. Part of this was to add some experience, but another bonus was that we demonstrated the former Secretary’s commitment to open borders. Unfortunately, Washington is a little expensive, and the existing interns had been asked to take in roommates on a temporary basis until everyone could get their housing issues sorted out. So Colin (which again is not his real name) was going to live with me until he was able to find his own apartment.
"This place is huge!" he said. "How much are they paying you?"
"Minimum wage," I said. "Same as they’re paying you."
"You’re trying to sell me a load of biscuits, then. No way minimum wage pays for all this."
"Not exactly," I said. "I’m a corporate officer of Fairchild Holdings, Unlimited, which owns the building. I get to stay here rent-free. It’s a tax-write-off, I think."
"This is an amazing place you have here, mate," he said. "Bloody incredible view, too." He wandered around the apartment, checking things out. "They didn’t tell me you had ankle-biters."
"Someone comes in and sprays for pests every so often."
"Not that," he said. "You know. Rugrats. Children."
"Oh, no," I said. "No children here."
"Planning on them?"
"Not really."
"Then why are there all those old toys stacked up in this one room?" Colin asked.
"That’s the comfort room," I said. "You can use it whenever you want–you know, when you’re feeling especially stressed and just want to de-compress."
"Blimey," he said. "So, at the end of the day, you just go in there and play with toys?"
"Well, no," I said, maybe a little defensively. "Not all the time. Sometimes I go out and get a beer. There’s a place around the corner that has a very nice organic wheat ale."
"Right-ho," Colin said. "Let’s go get properly sloshed."
In the office, Colin was a gem. He was the one who came up with the KEEP CALM AND VOTE WITH YOUR VAGINA meme, which was very successful although it got a little bit of pushback. He had the idea that we try to get Texas to secede before the election to guarantee a Democratic lock in the Electoral College, which I still think would have worked if we’d given it a real try, and I honestly don’t know why the legal staff was so against it. But after work, he kept dragging me out to various bars and nightclubs, and drinking an alarming amount of beer and cider. (I did find an organic locally-sourced cider that I liked, which helped out a lot.) I missed one dinner date with Emma because I was literally so drunk that I couldn’t remember how my phone worked. And I kept finding odd foodstuffs in my refrigerator, some of which I couldn’t identify. I tried the Marmite, once Colin explained to me that it was vegetarian, but I still thought it was gross beyond words.
I kept my concerns to myself, though, because I believe in multiculturalism and that immigration is a major driver of cultural diversity. As long as Colin cleaned up after himself whenever he threw up in the guest bathroom–and he did, most of the time–who was I to complain? It was a large apartment, and after a while I got used to waking up to Oasis songs played full-blast on my speaker system.
It wasn’t even me that said anything to him, anyway. It was Emma. It was her birthday, and I’d taken her out to the Blue Duck Tavern, and we’d had an excellent meal (I recommend the charred asparagus) and were headed back to my place. "What about Colin?" she asked as I opened the door.
"Not to worry," I said. "I got him tickets to the professional basketball game. He won’t be back until the game’s over."
I held the door open for her. "You sure about that?" she asked. "There are a lot of clothes on the floor in there."
"I told him to pick up after himself, but he called me a banker," I said. "Or I think that’s what he said."
"Okay, that’s someone’s bra," Emma said. "Maybe we need to go back to my place."
"His bedroom door is open," I said. "He’d close it if he had someone over. Or I hope so."
"If he’s in your bedroom," Emma said, "we’re going to a hotel. Seriously."
"Colin respects boundaries," I said. "He wouldn’t do that. Unless he were really, really, really drunk." I checked in the bedroom anyway, and he wasn’t in there.
"You were not kidding," a strange voice said from behind a door somewhere. "This is just incredible."
"My mate Justin set it all up," another voice said, which sounded much like Colin’s. "I thought he was totally barmy, first time I saw it. But you look like you’re having fun."
"They’re in the comfort room," I said. "Oh, God, they’re naked in the comfort room."
Emma started giggling.
"That’s not what the comfort room is for!" I said. "It’s a safe place, you know? A sanctuary. For all I know they’ve been playing naked Twister in there. You know? They could be doing it on my bean bag. I paid three hundred dollars for that. It’s microfiber."
"You are just so adorable when you’re like this," Emma said. "Really. It’s cute."
"You need to find someplace else to live, Colin," I told him the next morning.
"What for?" he asked. "For having a bird over? Your girlfriend stayed the night, same as mine. What are you, a bloody hypocrite?"
"You made a mess of the comfort room," I said. "Go in there. There’s chocolate pudding smeared everywhere. Or I hope to God that’s chocolate pudding."
"I think so," Colin said. "That’s the thing about American girls, iddn’t it? You never can tell what they’re going to be attracted to. I didn’t think I had a shot with this one at all until I told her about your private little play area, there."
"As of now, you can consider yourself deported," I said. "Find someone else to live with."
"Can’t go back to Blighty just yet," he said. "I’m trying to qualify for the next amnesty. I need to overstay my visa. And I’m getting along well at work, you said so yourself."
"Don’t make this about immigration policy," I said.
"So open borders are only open so far, then?" Colin asked. "Like I said, you’re a bloody hypocrite, you are."
"This is not America," I said. "This is Justin-land, a fully-owned subsidiary of Fairchild Holdings, Unlimited, and I am in charge here."
"That’s the true attitude of a one-percenter, right there. You are a bloody hypocrite."
"I’m a one-percenter who’s going to spend the whole weekend cleaning up his comfort room. Don’t you have any respect for personal property?"
"You say that to me," Colin said, "and you call yourself a Trotskyite? Typical bourgeois attitude, if you ask me. Petty-bourgeois, at that. I don’t have to put up with this abuse any longer, mate."
The good news was that Colin did leave, and he actually managed to keep his job for three or four weeks after that, at which point he was able to get a job on MSNBC as a producer (or I think so, it’s hard to keep track of people once they start working at MSNBC). He was right about one thing–I am a one-percenter. (I ended up hiring a cleaning crew to clean up the comfort room, and they had some very strange looks on their faces when they left.) But all Colin was trying to do was make a difference for himself. I’m trying to make a difference for everyone, even expatriate Brits who smear pudding all over beloved childhood toys. I can feel good about myself for that.