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    There's an Animal in My Room!

    You and your roommate might be, well, different breeds. But who says you can't get along swimmingly?

    Josh Johnson

    Assuming the ark didn't get ESPN, I wonder if Noah ever passed the time by writing a how-to book on living with roommates. He certainly would have been qualified.

    The man spent over a year confined to a mobile petting zoo that could double as a supermarket aisle (inhabitants included chickens, turkeys and a man named Ham). That makes Gilligan's three-hour tour seem like a Caribbean cruise.

    And if God would have stretched Noah's lifespan beyond his scant 950 years, into, say the 21st century, he surely would have been invited to speak at colleges across the country.

    Why? Because Noah knew the facts about roommates. It takes effort to live with others. There were probably moments when Noah would have had an easier time predicting the outcome of Super Bowl XIX than figuring out the intricacies of one of his arkmates.

    But before anyone gets the false idea that sharing a room rates up there on the heinous scale with calculus homework and all-you-can-eat tofu, look on the bright side. Living with a roommate has great potential for joy and growth, and it may even be more educational than some of your classes. Building the relationship just takes communication and mutual respect.

    I remember being thrilled upon receiving a "roommate questionnaire" in the mail before my freshman year of college. This meant, I concluded, that college officials were going to hook me up with someone exactly like me. At that moment, I had the intelligence quotient of clam chowder.

    I received a roommate named Tim who loved God and basketball. Bingo, I thought, a match made in heaven. But it wasn't that easy. Lucky for me, Tim was a good communicator. And through my experiences that first year, I can now pinpoint a number of issues that all roommates should discuss before one of them has his toes inadvertently stomped.

    Early Bird vs. Night Owl

    Through research (I asked my mother), I've found that college students are extremely particular when it comes to sleeping habits. Some like to go to bed at 11 p.m., while others avoid sleep as if it were piled-up laundry. Regardless, roommates are bound to want to turn in at different times every once in a while, and an understanding of your roommate's desire to sleep will be appreciated—and hopefully reciprocated.

    Another potential hiccup in the realm of Zs-catching has to do with alarm clocks. I, for example, sleep deeper than a hibernating grizzly bear. To compensate, I invested in an alarm clock that sounds like a rooster with laryngitis. This puppy is loud. I have received complaints about it from neighboring countries, so you can imagine what Tim must have thought.

    To make matters worse, I'm one of those people who subconciously hits snooze every seven minutes for like three hours. I used to set my alarm for 5 a.m. just so I could be up in time for church on Sunday, and I'm not talking about the sunrise service.

    Obviously, my sleep habits needed a wake-up call. I had to try to adapt so I didn't drive my roommate crazy. Tim helped get me up in the mornings, and I started making it a priority to get out of bed before my alarm crowed more than three times.

    Neat Freak vs. Trash Collector

    I was surprised to learn upon attending college that someone other than my father thought my room should be clean. Here again is an important concept to hash out with your new roommate. Tim liked to put his clothes in the closet, whereas I tried to keep the closet empty so I'd have a place to throw my clothes on parents' weekend.

    Once we took each other's habits into consideration, the floor looked a little less like it was carpeted with my clothing. And neatnik Tim tried to restrain himself from using my T-shirts as cleaning rags.

    Isolation vs. Train Station

    I think Tim was secretly competing with the Rose Bowl in Pasadena with his efforts to break attendance records in our room. He thrived when a capacity crowd packed our small quarters like a U-Haul.

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