Picking up Strays

A few years ago, while I was on a walk through the park with an old friend I’d known since I was 20, she told me “You’ve got to stop picking up strays”. She wasn’t talking about dogs or cats, she was talking about people. People who had no friends (I would always find out later why they had no friends…usually due to some psychosis).

In college, I had a friend named “Kym”, who I met through the other horse enthusiasts at the local University. We were actually “thrown” together by other girls who didn’t want to hang out with us, because we wore make-up, curled our hair, and dressed up to go to functions while the other girls wore their old jeans, cowboy boots, and basically had hay in their back pockets. God forbid the guys pay attention to us and not them!

Kym was a pretty girl, 5’8″, blonde hair, and blue eyes. She looked like she had the world at her feet. Kym didn’t come from a family with money, in fact, she came from a broken home (Which was a little more unusual back then), and she talked about her Mother being so tight, she’d turn down the hot water heater temperature to save money (I do this now!).

Kym always managed to get kicked out of her apartment about 3 weeks before the end of the semester (Not paying her rent?) and she’d move in with me, lock, stock, and barrel. It drove my Mom crazy, with all of Kym’s stuff in the living room. Looking back, my Mom never should have allowed it.

Kym was always criticizing me, as though she was trying to “help” me by pointing out my faults. According to her, I didn’t dress right, wear the right color of lipstick, etc. Kym had the power of manipulation. She knew how to work her way in.

After she’d moved home (A small town in Northern California), she got a job at a Credit Union, and was doing pretty well, until they found out she hadn’t gotten her Bachelor’s Degree. So, back to the local University here to finish up. She got a roommate, who happened to have a cat. The roommate insisted on leaving the Air Conditioning on all day, for the cat. Kym told her she could pay 2/3rds of the Electric bill, then. The roommate didn’t like that idea, and told Kym to leave.

This time, my Mother put her foot down, and said Kym was not going to stay at our home. It wasn’t the “Lock, stock and barrel” that bothered my Mom, it was the way Kym tried to manipulate me.

Kym called me one day, and was saying that a certain department store’s models in the TV commercials were “Ugly”. I was a model for that store, and in the commercials. Then, she had the nerve to ask if she could move in with me the last few weeks of the semester. I didn’t say a word. She went on talking about how she didn’t have a place to live, and couldn’t afford a hotel room. I remained silent. She finally said “I’M HOMELESS!”. I didn’t say a word. I also never heard from her again.

When my roommate first moved in, it was a temporary situation where the apartment complex she lived in was being upgraded, and she didn’t want to stay in the complex everyone had been moved into. The second night she was here, one of her “strays” came calling. The “stray” is sort of a Hippie-mountain-chick who works a seasonal (State) job in the mountains, and collects unemployment the rest of the year.

Ms. Hippie-mountain-chick offered to give me a massage in exchange for letting her stay on my couch. While giving me the massage (She is a licensed massage therapist, otherwise, I would not have agreed to it), she spotted an old photo of me on the wall at my “fighting weight” (That’s after a woman has had a bad break up, be it a divorce, or other relationship, and basically starves herself thin), and said “You were in such good shape in that picture, it’s a SHAME you don’t look like THAT anymore!”.

I should have asked her to leave right then and there, but not wanting to make my new roommate uncomfortable, I just let it go. Ms. Hippie-mountain-chick ended up crashing on my couch for SEVEN nights! After three nights, I should have either asked her to leave, or started charging her rent! On the last night Ms. Hippie-mountain-chick was here, she repeated her insult to me about how it’s a shame I don’t look like I used to (In a 15-some-odd-years-old photo), only this time, my roommate heard her say it, too. I went down to my room, and the next thing I knew, Ms. Hippie-mountain-chick came right into my room, uninvited, and wrapped her arms around me from behind. I ignored her. She left the next day. I let my roommate know, in no uncertain terms, that her “friend” is not welcome here, anymore.

Recently, I ran into an old school chum I’d known since the 7th grade. She was one of the “popular” girls, a cheerleader, swimmer, dancer, etc. I was at a coffee house trying to have a conversation with a friend, when she came walking up and invited herself to sit with us. She dominated the conversation, and finally, my other friend left. The old school chum turned to me with tears in her eyes, and said she was “Homeless”.

I got that “Uh Oh” feeling, and explained that I didn’t have any room, as I have a small house, and a roommate. That didn’t phase her, she said “If I could just sleep on your couch, if I could just put my head on a pillow for the night…”. I could see she was desperate, and wasn’t going to give up. I felt trapped.

So, she followed me home. Then, she unloaded her suitcase from her car, and proceeded to use my laundry room to wash everything in her suitcase. As we sat and talked (until 11:00pm, and I had to get up early and go to work the next morning) she talked about her church. I asked her why she couldn’t go to her church for help. She said she couldn’t let them see her like that. ???? Isn’t that what churches are for?

I finally went to bed, and she slept on the couch. The next morning, I gave her $10 to get some gas in her car, a cup of coffee (for the road) and she told me “I’ll leave at 10:30”. I explained that she would have to leave at 7:00am, the same time I did.

That night, she came back, just like the stray cat you make the mistake of feeding. So, I let her in, and this time, she walked right down the hall to my roommate’s room and flopped on the bed. I told her she would have to sleep on the couch again, in case my roommate came home (my “roommate” was actually living at her boyfriend’s house, she just kept her stuff here).

The old school chum refused, and said “If she comes home, I’ll go back on the couch”. Now, who argues when being offered a couch when they have no place else to go?! This woman was starting to scare me.

The next morning, she was talking about how I had a “fortune” in old record albums. She had been going through my stuff in the middle of the night! And….I noticed that a $20 from my wallet was missing.

I got really scared, and talked to a friend about it. My friend informed me that I was a “prisoner in my own home”, and not to let the woman back in. I had to call the police the next night when she came knocking. I told them that she was homeless, and I feared needed medication, but couldn’t afford it.

They showed up and told her to leave as she was banging on my door. She sent me a furious text. I deleted it before reading all of it.

I don’t think I’ll be “picking up strays” ever again!

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