A while back, I had a lot of fun with why you should never live with an unreliable narrator. But why stop there? Anyone who’s ever lived in shared accommodation will know that flatmates can be difficult. But what would it be like to live with the sort of chick-lit heroines we know and love from Bridget Jones, Shopaholic et al?
It is 6.30 pm. You come home from your strangely unproblematic job to find your flatmate face down on your checkered hall floor, amid visible signs of a struggle. A priceless antique vase, willed to you by your grandmother, lies in jagged pieces around her ample frame. Alarmed, you run and place a hand on her back, shaking her. She turns and groans, her eyes fluttering open, her mascara having long made a break for it down her cheeks.
You: Oh my God! Are you okay? What happened?
Chick-Lit Heroine: [slurring] Heyyyyyyyyyyyy.
You: Wait. Are you drunk?
Chick-Lit Heroine: Might be just the littlest teensiest bit sort of. I may have had some wines.
You: What the hell, girl? It’s not even dark!
Chick-Lit Heroine: [groaning] It’s not my fault. You won’t believe what happened to me today.
You: You’re right. I won’t.
Chick-Lit Heroine: [sitting up, wiping eyes] So I had that interview this morning.
You: Yes. I know. For the respectable office job, which was supposed to help you with your astronomical credit card debt and enable you to pay your share of the rent for the first time in six months. How did it go?
Chick-Lit Heroine: I got a taxi, just like you told me. I didn’t want a repeat of what happened on the train that time with the Pomeranian and the blocked toilet. My taxi driver was so nice – so interesting, told me all about growing up in Uzbekistan, did you know they didn’t even have a Wikipedia page until 2007? But anyway he got a phone call from his girlfriend while we were on the High Street and they had a big row, and we had to stop, because he was crying so hard he couldn’t drive.
You: Go on?
Chick-Lit Heroine: So we stopped outside this café and got out because I wanted to buy him a cup of tea. I was comforting him, when all of a sudden—
You: [sighing] I’ll bet.
Chick-Lit Heroine: All of a sudden, there’s Randall. The first guy who ever broke my heart. The one I never got over. The one who got away. The one with the biggest—
You: I get the picture. What about him?
Chick-Lit Heroine: He comes out of a really fancy boutique, laden with shopping bags, and I see gorgeous tartan ruffles from that SS16 Alexander McQueen dress I absolutely adore sticking out from his— uh—
You: You know, I’m really quite hungry, and I’ve a bag full of healthy vegetables to prepare. Do you mind if I take off my coat and we continue this in the kitchen?
Chick-Lit Heroine: But he’s holding all these bags because he’s out shopping with his— with his— [wails]
You: Are you pausing for dramatic effect, or have you actually taken a knock to the head which is depriving you of nouns?
Chick-Lit Heroine: His WIFE. She was gorgeous. And so thin. But he called my name, like he was glad to see me. Which he can’t be. I mean, this is Randall, the George Clooney lookalike who definitely only ever went out with me for a bet. And I’m desperately trying to look normal, only the Uzbek taxi driver has snot coming out of his nose, and he keeps moaning don’t leave me here, I can’t go on like this—
You: So I know it’s a cliché, but I bought ice cream, and it’s melting. It’s starting to run down my shoe.
Chick-Lit Heroine: I’m trying to find the taxi driver a tissue, but I drop my Michael Kors AW15 handbag, and condoms and tampons fly out EVERYWHERE. I’m dying of embarrassment, but I can’t think of what to say, and Randall’s beautiful thin wife looks so smug and superior—
You: I’ll bet.
Chick-Lit Heroine: And I hear myself saying, Hello, Randall. Have you been shopping for a wife?
You: You did not!
Chick-Lit Heroine: [guttural groan] I did. I went puce, I mean I thought she was going to kill me, but Randall just laughed. He was looking at the Uzbek taxi driver, and said Bloody hell, Pooples, what have you been doing to this guy?
You: He called you Pooples?
Chick-Lit Heroine: It was his pet name for me, back when we were going out in college. Before I ran over his cat.
You: I can see where this is going. I’m guessing the same way as my ice-cream.
Chick-Lit Heroine: And I couldn’t take it anymore, I mean it was just so embarrassing, and before I knew it, I’d slapped the taxi driver hard across the face and grabbed him by the lapels, shouting PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER MAN!
You: Please tell me he did as instructed, and proceeded to drive you to aforementioned job interview.
Chick-Lit Heroine: [moaning] He just cried harder. So I had to run. Except of course I was wearing my favourite sky-high Louboutins. I fell and twisted my ankle right outside a 24-hour bar, where a paramedic stag party had been drinking all through the night.
You: You cannot be serious.
Chick-Lit Heroine: And these gorgeous paramedics bandaged up my ankle. I realised I was too late for the interview, and I burst into tears. The paramedics got me a brandy for the shock and offered me a lift home in their ambulance, so I ended up drinking with them until they were done.
You: Well, I suppose it would’ve been rude not to.
Chick-Lit Heroine: But when I got home, I forgot I’d twisted my ankle, didn’t I? So I fell in the door, and knocked the hall table. I’m so sorry about your vase. I’ll pay you back. I swear.
You: [sighing] I suppose you haven’t eaten?
Chick-Lit Heroine: Not if you don’t count sixteen packets of peanuts and twelve packets of crisps in the bar, no.
You: [shrugging off your coat] Well, it’ll only be the sixth dinner I’ve made for you this week. In the meantime, here. Have some ice cream.
I think I like my literary protagonists better on the page. Anyhoo, that’s about it for the chick-lit genre. But there are so many others. You have been warned.