March 3, 2005

Food Appreciation for the Cruel

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Living with apartment mates can seem like the ideal environment for maximum social, academic and financial benefits. You’ve essentially got an untapped pool of spontaneous conversations, help with assignments and digital cable at a fraction of the cost. What most people don’t realize, however, is that the hidden benefit behind every roommate and apartment-sharing situation has to do with food. The stealing part is implied.

Call me cold-hearted or material-driven, but don’t call me impractical. If living with four other girls has taught me anything, it has taught me the art of what I like to call intra-apartment food appropriation. Although this pretentious phrase basically boils down to “stealing,” try to think of it as payment for all the little things you hate about each other, which unfortunately are also too little to ever mention. Sure, apartment mate #1’s delayed explosive laughter may be annoying, but there is no way you can ever bring up something so trivial without being ready to be despised.

So how does one go about getting away with such sneaky behavior when tangible objects are so involved with the process? Don’t worry because the best method will soon be revealed. Carefully honed from years (okay more like months) of trial and error, my guide will guarantee that you never go hungry! Consider it my gift to you; just as the obligation of writing this column was a similarly desired gift to me.

The Victim

The right target is essential to food filching. Roommates who are science-related majors are ideal victims because constant obligations to do problems sets and study their brains out for prelims ensures that keeping track of their food is the least of their worries. Now if the idea of stealing from a stressed out friend reminds you too much of kicking someone while they’re down, just close your eyes and remember the braying, explosive laughter. Yeah, not feeling too bad now, are you? If science major roommates are lacking, be on the lookout for absentminded ones, especially those with time commitments that take them away from the scene of your future crime. Avoid those who like to label their food because this slightly annoying habit eliminates any chance you have of feigning ignorance.

The Time

The right time can make or break the deal. Obviously the best time is when you’re alone, but should the presence of others be unavoidable, opt for either early hours when frantic morning rituals distract roommates from noticing what you’re doing or late at night when Cornell’s trademarked brand of sleep deprivation decreases bodily awareness to an all time low. However, since the characteristics I’ve described could also apply to you, care is of the utmost importance. After all, the theme we’re going for is stealth.

The Target

Here’s a hint: don’t go for unique items. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the other person “just won’t notice.” I live with someone who literally counts her eggs every morning before making breakfast. Even the most absentminded of roommates will realize that the last chocolate truffle did not disappear on its own. This is why I suggest going for items that come en masse. If going for packaged goods such as chips, always remember to leave more than half of what you’ve eaten, as to create a sense of reassurance within the mind of the owner.

The Excuse

Let’s not kid ourselves. Every time you execute a plan of food pillaging, you run the risk of failure. Although the idea of confrontation might make you want to vomit, there’s no way you’re going to escape identification if you’re caught in the act. To minimize this risk, try to time your food deception to coincide with social activity within your place of residence. If your roommates have several people over to work on projects or to socialize, chances are they won’t be so eager to direct the accusatory finger towards you. Even the presence of multiple roommates could be beneficial along similar lines of logic. This is a cutthroat world and explicit excuses sometimes just don’t measure up. Instead, create confusion and create uncertainty. Ignore ambiguous notes on the refrigerator threatening mass homicide for missing granola bars and remember to always tell me beforehand if you can’t write your column.

Archived article by Tracy Zhang
Sun Staff Writer