In the final episode of Season 1 of "712 Hayes," I recap my loving torment of my roommate Caitlin.
After two years at 712 Hayes, the room adjacent to mine opened up. Rather than having one of Christy’s favored open houses, she already had someone in mind to fill it. (You may recall from the first episode that Christy is the master tenant.)
Caitlin, a friend of Christy’s through a book club they were part of, was fresh off of breaking up with her boyfriend. Caitlin’s boyfriend also happened to be her roommate. With Caitlin needing a place to live, Christy fast-tracked her into our vacancy.
While Jeremy was the roommate I hung out with the most, Caitlin was the roommate I grew closest with. She’s someone who I’d ask to proofread texts to girls, help me with dyeing my gray hairs, and share drinks with on the weekend. When her boyfriend Ben was over for a sleepover, well I knew about it in real-time.
Even though she was a year older than me, she’s someone who at times I would jokingly call my younger sister. That is to say that while I did very much enjoy her presence, I took even more enjoyment out of continuously annoying her just like my own real-life sister (shout-out Nihal). On top of bothering her when inspiration struck, I had two steady go-to’s.
With Caitlin out of the house by 8:30 am for work, I’d often jump on her bed and take a picture of myself napping in it. She would immediately ask me to get the hell out of her room and make sure I didn’t leave any hair behind.
My second tactic came into play when Caitlin was in the shower. With the bathroom next to our rooms, I could hear when she turned the water off. I’d then creep into Caitlin’s room, close the door, and let out a shout when she entered. Scaring the bejesus out of Caitlin after she was all relaxed post hot shower never got old.
All of this served as a build-up to what occurred in early 2017. Caitlin let us know that her close friend Audrey would be in town.
Unfortunately, Audrey and her fiance had just ended their engagement—the fiance she coincidentally enough met on a previous trip to 712 Hayes. On her flight into SFO, she hit it off with the passenger next to her, and by that weekend they were already getting after it.
After Caitlin let me know Audrey was coming to town, she also said that Audrey may be looking for a rebound, or as Caitlin called it, a “makeout buddy.” (Just to reiterate “makeout buddy” is her term, not mine. I no longer read young adult fiction.) Caitlin wanted to see if I could source someone within my friend group to help with that.
“Oh don’t worry. I can take care of that. I’ll hook up with Audrey.”
“Ewwww. You’re so disgusting. Audrey would never make out with you.”
Now I had no intention of pursuing one of Caitlin’s friends, it was just another opportunity to irritate her. Anytime Caitlin would remind me that Audrey was coming to town, I’d let her know that I’m willing and able to assist in the mission.
When Audrey arrived on Friday afternoon, she dropped off her bags at 712 Hayes. We caught up a little before she was off to meet Caitlin at a bar. It was St. Patrick’s Day which, for Caitlin, has a very early kickoff time. Audrey encouraged me to come out, but I had work to do and a Guinness at 1 pm wasn’t in my cards.
Several hours later Caitlin texted me that the group was at Tunnel Top Bar. Free of my work obligations, I went out to join them. When I arrived, Caitlin and her group of friends were thoroughly sloshed.
Before I even got a drink, one of her friends started propositioning me: she told me I should go check in with Audrey, and see if she wants to make out. While she thought she was being slick with it, she was really just being drunk with it.
It was clear that there had been internal discussions before my arrival. I had been invited to Tunnel Top to explicitly be Audrey’s rebound. (It’s worth mentioning that Tunnel Top is a pretty sweet bar. Great lighting. Sweet upstairs. Good first date spot, for sure.)
Even though this would be the ultimate card to play against Caitlin, it was something that I wasn’t interested in. If it was hidden a little better, sure, I’d probably go for it. Just like Jim Carrey in the “Truman Show," however, once I knew everyone was tuning in, I was not about to be the source of their entertainment.
After I grabbed a beer, I sat myself down on a ledge near the front door of Tunnel Top. Audrey quickly made her way over to me. She was getting real comfortable, real fast. After some forgettable back-and-forth banter, Audrey upped the ante.
“Why do you always act like you don’t like me,” she asked flirtatiously.
I could see where this was going and decided to not play along.
“Uhmmmmm. You know, I definitely don’t do that. I like you just fine.”
She took that as an invitation to move in for the kill. She started making out with me while my lips were just static.
Now to be clear, Audrey is someone who’s unquestionably attractive. 98% of the time, I’d say, “Sure, I’m in there like swimwear.” At this particular moment, however, there were a few things working against her.
On top of being watched by everyone, I get no enjoyment from making out with someone significantly drunker than me. Their motor skills are moving at a different pace. Their breath has a certain stank to it. They’re way more into it than you are. All of these things don’t matter when there are somewhat equal levels of inebriation, but when there is a six-drink gap, I’d rather just sit it out.
The other reason why this situation was not going to happen is that Caitlin was literally three feet away from us. The idea of making out with anyone in Caitlin’s vicinity is disgusting enough, let alone one of her closest friends. You don’t go to a bar with your sister and just hook up with her friend while she’s next to you.
After my lips didn’t move in symphony with Audrey’s, she asked, “Why aren’t you kissing me back?”
“I’m good. I just. I just am not interested. Sorry.” She walked off in a tiff, which I did feel bad for as she was simply looking for a reprieve from an emotionally rough place.
I looked over to Caitlin, who, as I said, was right next to me. It was a surreal moment considering I had been chiding Caitlin about this exact scenario for about a month.
“Audrey just tried to—”
“Shut up. Just shut up.” She saw what happened. She didn’t need to relive it, but oh, did she ever.
About a year later I was on a run in San Francisco when I realized I was close to Caitlin’s apartment. Caitlin had moved out six months prior to live with Ben. I decided to make a quick pit stop and say hello to them.
I peeked inside their windows—looked empty. I knocked on their door. Nothing. Not even Bosco, their dog, was home. They must be out out.
A few months earlier, I stayed at their apartment for a few days to dog sit Bosco. They had a pretty nice spot on California Street, right below Divisadero. It was technically a studio, but a very spacious studio with great windows and only a couple blocks from Alta Plaza Park, one of my favorite San Francisco greenspaces.
(Pro Tip: At the top of the park are a set of swings that have a nice view of the city. My friend Shoshana would go up there mid-date and jump on the swing as a way to grease the wheels en route to a first kiss. In her words, “It’s a romantic, but public setting that makes the act feel more comfortable for both parties.” Very well reasoned, Shoshana. She now has moved out of San Francisco, so I don’t feel bad blowing up her spot.)
They left me a key under a planter to get into their apartment. When I went back to 712 Hayes that’s where I left the key.
I wondered if the key was still—yup, there it is. Same spot I left it. With the key in hand, I couldn’t not use it; I had Chekhov's gun in my hands.
Once inside, I figured I might as well use the bathroom here. Running is unenjoyable enough as it is. It becomes slightly less unenjoyable when you aren’t thinking about urinating.
With my basic bodily functions taken care of, my mind wandered to my favorite pastime: What can I do to annoy Caitlin? I thought of simply sending a picture of myself in her bed, but that seemed too easy. No, there was something else here. Something that says, “Mustafa was here,” but in a more light-handed way. Inspiration struck.