The Real Flatmates of Dunedin

The Real Flatmates of Dunedin

When I asked students from around New Zealand what the first thing is that sprang into their mind when I said “Otago University,” the answers I received were all fairly similar. Most of their reactions were something along the lines of, “Ya’ll a bunch of Scarfies,” “Bad drinking culture,” and, “Prockta pls.” All except one responded this way; Sam Hunt spoke of the “warm atmosphere,” and camaraderie present among the University’s “quiet and studious students.” What a joke, Sam.

This clichéd idea of a cold, strange city filled with excessive alcoholism and street parties has been around for decades. Why? Because there is a little truth to our dear university’s reputation: a little, but not necessarily a lot. With the latest generation of Scarfies being described by their predecessors as “weak,” and “not nearly as ruthless,” as they themselves once were, it certainly seems like times might be a’changing for the students of Dunedin.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Real Flatmates of Dunedin – as I know them.

The Thyme Fiasco

Gigi was on her way to University for the day. She always enjoyed the brisk morning walk; especially when a strapping young man accompanied her. Spoiler alert: a strapping young man always accompanied her. Gigi had an awful lot of attractive male friends, and sometimes the way people got all up in her business about it irritated her. “Can’t a girl just have a lot of guy friends? Perfectly platonic male acquaintances?” She’d asked herself these questions numerous times, and the answer was always “yes.”

Charlotte was lying on her bed, stretching toward her slightly ajar balcony door. She’d been blowing air in the general direction of the door for two minutes now, in an effort to make it swing out further. She was making no progress. April moonwalked into her bedroom, thus initiating the first silent dance party of the day.

Cara had been sitting in her room for over an hour, trying to wrap her head around this week’s psychology concepts. She reached for her backpack and started to absentmindedly dig for her USB stick. As her hand fumbled through the darkness it struck something small and plastic. “Oh yeah!” Cara got up and ran downstairs with the small plastic zip lock bag in hand. “Hey, guys!”

April, Charlotte, Stacey, Gigi and Ken were laughing in the kitchen when Cara burst through the door, looking far more excited than any student should after hours of studying. “Guys, I found this last night on my way home!” She was holding what appeared to be a small bag of weed. “Uhh, Cara, is that weed?” Stacey asked tentatively. “No, at first I thought it was but then I smelled it and I think it’s some sort of spice like thyme or something!” Everyone started to giggle. “Are you sure? Give it here.” Charlotte opened the bag and sniffed. She immediately burst out laughing. “Cara, that’s weed.”

Jasmine, Alice, Charlotte, April and Ken were hanging out in the lounge at the girls’ flat. Alice was expressing her exhaustion after a hard day of microbiology study. Charlotte silently congratulated herself for not taking anything quite so difficult, April examined her cutlery and Jasmine decided to make some curly-fries. Just as this momentous decision was made, Steph arrived home from gymming it up at Unipol. Jasmine considered her curly decision. She stuck with it. “No regrets,” she told herself, “no regrets.”

Life, Death and Pizza

Steph and Alice were making lunch and discussing the mundane activities Steph had been subjected to on her latest zoology trip. “It was awful, not even a little bit exciting. There weren’t any cute animals to stare at. No muffins, either. I’ll need to go get one later.” Alice made minimal noise in response to her flatmate’s spiel on muffins and muffin cards – it was Steph’s favourite thing to talk about these days. “And oh my gosh, Alice; did I tell you that fucking Dan stole one of my muffin stamps? I’m so angry.”

“I DON’T HAVE A BOYFRIEND!” Stacey ran to the kitchen at the sound of Gigi’s cry. “Oh really? Then why did he buy you a pizza, huh? A whole pizza? Just for you?” Ken and Rupert had cornered Gigi by the kitchen table. “What’s going on here?!” Stacey stood still in the doorway, mouth aghast at the situation. “Gigi has a boyfriend. He just bought her a pizza.” Rupert had put on sunglasses, as had Ken, in what Stacey could only assume was an effort to look like police officers. Gigi let out an exasperated sigh, “I told you guys, we were just walking home and he said he was going to get Domino’s, I said I’d see him later, unless he bought me a pizza. He did. That’s all!” Ken turned swiftly to Rupert, “I feel like we’re not being aggressive enough with this interrogation. Let’s go strategise.” As the boys ran out of the room, Stacey gave Gigi a gentle pat on the back. She told her to ignore the boys and enjoy having such generous friends. She then grabbed a piece of pizza and flew out of the room.

Hannah had been thinking about the Miss Otago pageant all day. She wasn’t worried about walking in heels like she had been years earlier, instead she had been ruffled by her coach giving her the news that dark colours were off-limits for both swimsuits and ball gowns. Off-limits?! Black was Hannah’s colour! Life was really difficult sometimes. At least she could wear red. This thought comforted her as she finished her late night workout.

The Tortoise and the Bitch

Cara and Rupert had gotten up bright and early to go running together. Cara had planned to go up Signal Hill, a route that she found particularly satisfying. She quickly realised, however, that Rupert wasn’t the greatest of running buddies. As she made her way steadily up the road, Rupert danced about just ahead of her, the perfect picture of non-red-faced pride. “Ugh,” She thought to herself, “Proper athletes make me sick.”

“One of the greatest things about going to the same university as your sister,” Charlotte said, “is that you have someone there who you feel comfortable sharing everything with.” She and Hannah had met for lunch at Governor’s, and Charlotte was currently trying to express a matter that had been troubling her. “Now with that being said, why won’t you let me come watch your pageant? I want to support you!” Hannah knew this had been coming, she almost regretted ever telling anyone that she’d been asked to participate. “You can support me! Just ... from a distance? I don’t know, Charlotte, it’s embarrassing!” Hannah wasn’t lying, she did find the whole thing a bit embarrassing, but there was also a whole “not wanting to do badly and disappoint anyone” factor that she didn’t quite want to admit just yet. “Hannah, we’ve grown up together, what could you possibly do that would be embarrassing for me to see?” “Oh, I could start having sex with ...” Charlotte quickly made a loud, incomprehensible sound. “Okay, well, there may be some things.”

Ken was upstairs in his flat, listening to his favourite song from Elmo’s Dance Party, “Where’s My Cookie?” He was damn sure that he was the only one home, so he blasted the tune from his speakers and danced around gleefully.

Rupert was downstairs at his flat. “Yep,” he thought to himself, “Ken definitely doesn’t think anyone else is home.”

Death of Dinner Conversation

Stacey was in the middle of sending a grumpy text message to Julian. He hadn’t come to class for the third day in a row, and she didn’t like being left all alone. It wasn’t that there weren’t other people for her to socialise with; it was just that she kind of hated them all. Julian was fun, entertaining, and always up for a good gossip session – what more could a bored girl ask for? She hit “send” on her message and left for brunch.

Jasmine was in a world of mental mayhem. She had come to the realisation that she had a crush. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t cause her quite so much distress, but ordinarily she didn’t have a crush on two people at the same time. Not only that, but the two people in question, Luke and Gary, were also best friends. “Great. I have no options, and then I have too many options. Thanks, Obama.”

It was dinnertime at Ken’s flat. Cara, Ken and Gigi were having an ordinary conversation about lecturers when Stacey and Rupert’s roars of laughter interrupted them. “Imagine, though, what would it actually be like? A bit squishy, aye, aye?” The two collapsed into fits of giggles. “Sorry, what are you talking about?” Gigi posed the question hesitantly, because every time she intruded in Rupert and Stacey’s conversations, they were discussing something she really just didn’t want to know about. “We’re discussing airplane sex!” Stacey tittered. Gigi got up from the table. Again, something she really didn’t feel like discussing over dinner.

Charlotte was finding it hard to sleep. Her new eye mask hadn’t been stitched with a thin enough thread, so it had been too hot and she’d thrown it across the room in anguish. Her journey to slumber was troubled, as she was still stinging from an earlier encounter with Marie’s flatmate; the bitch had forgotten Charlotte’s name. Regardless of whether or not Charlotte had remembered her name, (which she hadn’t), Charlotte was far too important to be referred to as “Marie’s friend,” and nothing more. How hurtful.

Getting Jiggy With It

“Five, four, three,” Charlotte’s eyes flashed open. “Two, one. Thunderbirds are go.” Her heart raced as she reached to answer her phone. Who the hell was calling her this early? “Hello?” It was Pam; she’d been vomiting all night and had called in desperation for advice. Charlotte’s heart went out to her dear friend, but she felt somewhat groggy and had no good advice to offer besides, “Maybe you should go to the hospital.” What a way to start the day.

Julian and Hannah had met up for lunch at Modaks, and they were in the middle of a discussion about their recent friendship woes. Julian was feeling bad for abandoning Stacey in class, “She keeps texting me to ask if I’ve dropped out!” Hannah was finding it hard to offer any worthwhile counsel, as she herself was troubled by the distance that had formed between her and Charlotte. “She hasn’t sent me a Snapchat in two days. Something’s wrong.” The two friends slowly drank their milkshakes, enjoying the momentary emotional relief they provided.

Stacey had been looking forward to this day all week. Today was the day her attractive male friend David was coming to visit. He’d be staying with her all weekend, and Stacey just knew that if she were feeling frisky, the opportunity to pounce would surely occur. General friskiness was a concrete part of Stacey’s day-to-day personality, so the chances were quite high that she would partake in the hanky-panky this weekend.

Ken and Rupert were downstairs in their flat, making bets about Stacey’s prospective canoodling this weekend. Stacey was still at university, and since the walls of their flat weren’t exactly thick, this was a prime opportunity to gossip. Both men were well aware of the allure David exuded, and both men were comfortable enough with their sexuality to openly discuss it. “He is quite sexy, though.” “No doubt.”

You Need Me, and I Need You

Jasmine walked into her flat to hear the tail end of a conversation between Steph and Alice – Steph was on about the muffins again. Luke never went on about muffins for far too long. Luke was so perfect. She’d made up her mind about her crushes on Luke and Gary; or rather, her mind had been helped in making a decision. Jasmine had found out that Gary was already taken, so Luke was the one. She’d known it all along.

The Facebook event was created: everyone would be partying it up at Ken and Stacey’s flat that night.

Almost everyone at the party had issues they needed to address. Almost everyone had also decided that a little liquid courage could help them all in addressing these issues.

“Julian you need to come back to class, I can’t handle being alone anymore.” Stacey had pulled Julian aside to give him a piece of her mind. “I know, Stacey; I will. I just lacked a little motivation this week, that’s all!” “Okay, cool.” The two friends hugged it out.

Hannah marched over to Charlotte, and drew her into a forceful embrace. “You’re my sister and I love you, and I’m not letting you go until you be my friend again.” Charlotte remembered back to when the two were children, and all their arguments Hannah had settled using similar tactics. “Can I please come watch you? I won’t shout anything embarrassing unless you want me to.” Hannah considered this. She considered how instead of shouting at her, Charlotte could totally put off her opponents by shouting at them. “Alright! You can come!”

Stacey was feeling frisky. She scouted David amongst the crowd.

David came downstairs. He was wearing a different outfit. He hoped that no one would notice, but everyone did.

April and Alice had been working through their “liquid courage” plan for near on two hours, and Steph had just walked in from visiting another flat. “Steph! We need to talk to you!” Steph turned toward Alice and hurried over to them in the kitchen. “What’s up?” April knew what she needed to say. “We don’t care about the muffins, Steph. You need to stop talking about muffin cards from Night & Day. You fucking like muffins – and good for you – but stop with the talking? Alright, good chat – cool.” Alice was relieved, and she noted that she couldn’t have put it better herself. “Ha, okay guys.” Steph laughed and disappeared into the lounge. “Alice, that worked, right?” “Yeah, totally.”

I Can Still Taste the Poison

April was not feeling well. April was feeling far from anything even near well. She was so unwell that she thought wellness was merely a thing of the past and that this was it, this was her end. Her thoughts were affirmed as her insides contorted and once again she heaved over the toilet bowl.

“Why did I have to land the bedroom next to the goddamn bathroom?” Charlotte buried her head under the mountain of pillows surrounding her. “Why?”

Stacey threw a plate at the wall, and watched as it shattered into pieces. David had left early this morning and not spoken to her at all. Her anger dissipated as the plate broke in front of her. Gigi ran out to her side and started picking up the pieces – both physical and emotional.

The Real Flatmates of Dunedin were asleep. No matter what happened, they all stuck together. That’s what being a flatmate was all about, really, putting up with other people’s crap because, at the end of the day, they help pay the bills. And sometimes they’re good friends, too. I guess there’s that.
This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2014.
Posted 7:01pm Sunday 30th March 2014 by Lydia Adams.