Excuse Me, Do You Have a Pet Anteater?


After hours of traveling, I arrived bleary eyed to my new campus apartment. When I rang the doorbell, which felt strange as if I was about to be guest in my own place, my roommate greeted me with a warm embrace. This was actually our first encounter after a summer of conversations via email. We had been matched by campus housing as roommates.

For the past three days, he had been settling into the apartment in a city where neither of us knew a soul.  It was quite apparent that he had likely not spoken to anyone since his arrival. To break the silence, he launched into conversation while simultaneously giving me a tour of the apartment, waving his arms in the air to show me the basics:  “This is the sink, this is the stove.” His words were blurring together. Exhausted, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed, but I followed him like a lost puppy. We walked into his room where we paused for a few minutes to talk. The air conditioning blasting at full speed felt rejuvenating on my face.

I closed my eyes for a moment to rest. Suddenly, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Could I be hallucinating? Was I so tired that I had imagined what looked to be an anteater? Please note: for the purposes of this story, the pet species has been changed to protect the roommate and his pet. I launched into immediate self defense on behalf of both of us, practically body slamming my roommate against the opposite wall while grabbing the broom that had been leaning against his wall for sweeping.

Moving In slow motion and at warp speed at the same time, I felt like I was finally realizing my dream of being a power-ranger. Yes, that was really my dream at age seven. This was just not how I ever expected it to happen at age 22 – going one on one with a giant anteater on less than two hours of sleep. But, this was my moment to shine.

“What are you doing?” my roommate screamed at me. “There is a anteater! Don’t move.” I shouted at him. For a moment, I feared I had imagined the teeth and tail and fur, but the anteater was staring at me with its beady eyes. “STOP!” my roommate screamed, running in front of his pet and putting his arms out to protect it, “This is my pet!”

Dumbfounded, I dropped the broom. He could not be serious. “You have a pet anteater?” I asked – again two words I never thought would be allowed in one sentence. “Yea,” he shrugged his shoulders so nonchalantly as if this was a kitten! I mean, it’s not like we were starting Vet School. This was our first year of Business School. Was this some kind of entrepreneurial venture he was trying to launch? “I’ve had him for the past five years!” my roommate tells me as he pets the anteater.

We had been emailing the entire summer, but he never mentioned his pet to me. Clearly who was bringing the microwave and dishes trumped the animal that would be living with us. When I asked why he did not told me, he responded with “You didn’t ask!”

I thought to myself, exactly, because that is on my checklist of things to ask a roommate before I move in with them – “excuse me, do you have a anteater?”

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