Roommate Hunting: Coco-Banana Bread

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

-That one time in life where you have to let strangers into your home. And then live with them.-

"i am would liking to know if te room is still 4 rent? please send picture, address, phone number, full name to me so i can do need some research on the place. please consider the House mine. -Jessica"

Reading it I could actually feel a small part of my brain wretch as small blood clot formed from pure frustration struck it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I lost some grade school algebra in a small grammatically-induced stroke.

I deleted the e-mail that was most likely a scam anyways. I then edited the Craigslist ad I had put up, and with no dramatic rapidity or concern added the word "intelligent" into the description of the would-be roommate Fiance and I were hunting for.

I'm sorry, but if I have to live with someone then that person better have a firm grasp of syntax and punctuation.

The search for a new roommate - a situation brought about through fiscal necessity as Fiance and I were eager to start scrimping away more fervently for a down payment - had never been this hard before. Then again, the last time I was hunting for a roommate the economy was good and Bravo had yet to start airing anything starring an attention-whoring housewife. There were simply far fewer ads on Craigslist to compete with for potential roommates.

Of course, those who did seem to read the ad weren't exactly the ones who fit the description. In fact, I imagine that none of the potential applicants had actually read it in full. I use the word "potential" rather literally. Only one person have I actually deemed to meet and that one was more out of desperation than anything else. For the most part many of the applicants are failing to get past the preliminary phone conversation or e-mail due in part to grammar so blunt you could club a horse to death with it; or phone skills that demonstrate a third grade education, a drinking problem, or both.

-It's what happens when teacher drinks too much before class.-

The ad reads pretty darn simple. Clean gay couple with two cats. No drugs. You pay rent on time. Clean neighborhood. Attic and a washer and dryer are available. So on and so forth. Overall, it's the place I would have loved to live in but couldn't afford seven years ago. Thus, by my standards, it's a room in a house that people should be knocking down the door for.

Instead, I get people who call and ask about thier pet dog.

"The ad did say no pets," I replied. "I suppose if the dog is trained..."

"Well he's an inside dog, but he only poops on the floor every so often. He also hates cats."

"Everything you just said is a problem," I replied.

"The pooping or the cats?"


"You have cats then?" he asked.

I sighed audibly. "It's in the ad that I do. They are indoor cats."

"Can you put them outside?"

There are times, in fact, when it is perfectly acceptable to just hang up on someone and it not be considered rude.

-This also goes for in-laws sometimes.-

Then there was the pair of twins who insisted that four people sharing a bathroom is just as easy as three. I must assume then that these twins shower together because I'll be damned to live with two other people and scramble for a share of hot water in the morning. Seriously, leaving me with only cold shower water is a quick way to find yourself with my belt wrapped around your neck while I punch you in the kidney repeatedly. Just sayin'.

Then the lady with four kids who called. For one bedroom. Lord, I almost called Social Services on that one.

The worst applicant so far has been the pot smokers.

During the phone interview earlier in the day before their visit they had asked if smoking pot was fine. Now I'm not a smoker myself as the taste of the smoke generally causes me to cough so hard I practically break down into hysterical sobs before throwing up my ribcage. However, I really just don't care if others do it. This being California and all I asked the guy if he had his proper, legal medical docs all in order. He said that he did and so I invited him to see the place.

What arrived at the door was not one, but two chunky, rather awkwardly shaped men in suits that did not practically fit them. They reeked of pot and their glassy eyes gazed through me as they searched, I assume, for munchies.

"Uhh... hi. There are two of you," I said. I didn't bother to really compose myself from the surprise of a Wonder Bread version of Cheech and Chong ringing my doorbell.

"Yeah. Is that okay?" one of them breathed out.

"Not really. The ad was for one roommate. Not two."

"Well we would only be in the room a few hours a week," said the other one assuredly. We smiled and gestured towards me with a nod as if to indicate how obviously I should know this.

"Wait, what?"

"We just need a room to smoke in."

Having had some experience with drug using roommates in the past I knew this translated as: We plan to do illegal stuff here. Buying, selling, and weighing. Smoking too, of course.

"No. No way. I'm sorry but I am looking for someone to live here. If that person has a medical prescription for pot for a legitimate reason that's one thing -"

"We can find a friend to live here in our place to make it better," he laughed before falling into a small coughing fit. Oh, pot humor... I'm never sure if it's ever actually a joke.

"Not a chance. Sorry." And so I escorted them out the door before cracking open a window to get the reek of hemp, Fritos, and Call of Duty out of my living room.

Still, not all of them have been bad and hopefully I actually have a decent person lined up. Nice, educated, no drug problems, good at conversation, and understands pithy references to Doctor Who. Furthermore, this person seemed to really like the place.

Of course, the smell of coco-banana bread baking in the oven may have helped sway the final decision. It's a relatively typical banana bread recipe with the addition of a generous amount of cocoa powder. Incredibly satisfying and a decadent twist on a classic favorite. Furthermore, the aroma of chocolate and banana wafting through the house is sure to sway the opinions of those around you in your favor.

So here's hoping. Until, I find out from both Potential and Landlord we'll just have to wait and see.

For now? More bread for me.

Coco-Banana Bread
Adapted from Simply Recipes

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon and a large bowl, mix the butter into the mashed bananas. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and walnuts, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.


  1. I have to admit, fortunately I haven't had a roommate since college and when I did (with the exception of Freshman year) they were always people I knew beforehand. I cannot imagine having to use Craigslist to find someone and then letting a complete stranger into my house. Maybe I'm overly private, but there is something about that I just can't handle. I know it's completely normal for 20 somethings and 30 somethings to have roommates but I'm just one of those people who loves my own space and cannot imagine sharing it with anyone besides a dog on a regular basis. Admittedly, even a significant other is a stretch right now.

  2. I actually LOL'd many times reading this post... Good Luck on your housing endeavor. If you ever need a place to escape from your future new roommate, let me know. :)

  3. Kelly: You do what you have to to make ends meet =)

    M Ann: I will keep you on pseed dial.

  4. Oh wow. I had a feeling the world was full of people like that, but now I'm positive of it. Ew, sorry you're having to deal with it :/

    I hope y'all find someone normal soon!

  5. Geez. Old person here. I would have tried the word-of-mouth among friend first. But you live in a cool city, so maybe Craigslist is the way to go. Hope it works out. Your baking skills and wit would be a huge draw for anyone sane. Probably the potheads missed it though...

  6. "Clean gay couple with two cats. No drugs. You pay rent on time. Clean neighborhood. Attic and a washer and dryer are available."

    It's surprising how mundane you seem when you take all the nuance out of life. That said, good luck! I hope you can find your perfect boring room mate. (And I don't mean that in the least as an insult. "Interesting" room mates tend to be more trouble than they're worth.)

  7. Ugh, Craigslist. I shared a house in DC with Craigslist roommates, and thankfully ended up with normal ones. I definitely encountered some weirdos during the search though. I received far too many emails resembling the first one you put up, and a lot of wire transfer scams!

    This bread looks delicious!

  8. Hi Garrett

    I'm in the middle of stirring together the ingredients for your banana there a chance there's an error in your recipe? The 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder have left me with a stiff, resistant ball of dough....

  9. Oh Garret, if only I lived in California instead of PA! And of course, assuming you'd consider a 50 yeard old woman with a love of all things food related, books and intelligent conversation. But alas, it's not in the cards, so good luck roommate hunting.

  10. Caitlin: You misread the recipe. Oh no! 1 1/2 TABLESPOONS cocoa powder. Not cups!
    Try baking the dough into biscotti perhaps?

    Burnttoast: Tried that. Believe me.

    Maggie: My last roomie was actually pretty awesome and we met on craigslist. We parted and I wasn't planning on having another, but we found someone to live here to offset cost till August. After that, no more. =)

  11. Hahahahahaha, wow, yup that's a major misread. It actually made a pretty nice loaf in the end, though a rather intensely bitter chocolate taste and dense crumb...

    At least those slowly rotting bananas are gone off my counter.

  12. this looks delicious! I AM EVERNOTING IT THANK U :)

    haha, your quest for a roommate is funny especially the part about having pets.. what part of 'no pets' isnt understandable right?? haha..

  13. I practically laughed out loud at your comment about a roommate needing to have a firm grasp of syntax. It's so true! I'm glad I'm not the only person out there who finds poor grammar unlivable. It's all I can do to keep from correcting my clients' abysmal grammar in the emails I receive from them all day (seriously, what did these people do all those years they were in school?).

  14. I know EXACTLY where you're coming from. Not even going into all the responses I got from girls coming to go to college (I'm 19 but loooooove to drink...with my fake ID of course!!LOL!), the last roommate I had I asked about both cigarettes and pot in her interview and she said she smoked neither. Cut to 5 minutes after her last piece of furniture was moved in and she comes out of her room and says "sooo...I have something to tell you. I lied. I smoke pot and cigarettes, but not too much." "Not too much" ended up meaning reeking of cigarettes every evening coming home from work and me catching her in closet smoking pot with friends after we had agreed she at least wouldn't smoke in the house. This girl was 2 years older than me and I felt like her mother!

    Luckily it was only for a year and I've had a phenomenal roommate now for just over a month and I love her--she was actually the very first person I interviewed off of craigslist this go-round and I couldn't be happier, so I hope your situation turns out as great!

  15. emily: Yep! Hoping to land a good one myself. =D

  16. emily: Yep! Hoping to land a good one myself. =D

  17. I once put an ad in the Washington Post looking for a roommate and I found a gem. We got on great and whereas I had no furniture she had tons so that worked out great, too.

    Coco banana bread just proves my theory that any food item, no matter how delicious, can be further enhance by the addition of chocolate. :)

  18. it's too bad I'm actually moving out of the area -- I love cats! I was thinking about leaving my midtown apartment and going the roommate route but now I have to move down to central Cal to take care of elderly family. Best of luck and love your blog!


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