Next year, some of you may plan to live in a world of ideas. I hope to live in an apartment. This presents certain problems because it is hard to find apartments in the world that are free. Every night, I pray that God will build a residential college in New York City where we can all go to play intramural sports, eat hamburgers and step over puke in the hallway. God usually says “No,” prompting me to add an extra “Please?” to which God replies, “Eli, turn me off, I’m not God, I’m only the television, and you’re freaking your roommate out.”
There are a lot of things to consider when making the big move outside the bubble. Who will you live with? Make a list of ten people you like and write their names on a piece of paper and put them in a hat. Then burn the hat. Do not live with someone you like. This is supposed to be the real world, guys. We’re supposed to take risks. Live with someone you’ve never met! This is the best way to ensure that you’ll have a fabulous time. I would suggest looking for someone on the Internet.
Recently, my roommate, Claire, pointed me toward an ad (perhaps trying to send me a hint?) that went something like this:
I’m looking to share my one-bedroom apartment. I am a non-smoking, 62-year-old man. You should be a 21-25 year-old single female. Rent: free.
Think about that! If you live with a friend, it will cost you money plus time figuring out new ways to be passive-aggressive. If you live with an old man, you could live for free!
If living with an old man isn’t for you, you should think about it again. If it still isn’t for you, you should wonder whether you are one of those people who just won’t let themselves be happy. Then, consider your options. First, you could go home and live in your parents’ basement. Remember that “your parents’ basement” will probably end up meaning “your old room on the second floor sharing a bathroom with your little sister” and then you have to sleep in a twin bed surrounded by posters of the Dave Matthews Band and Bob Marley. Sweet. You were really cool in high school.
Another option is living in an Ikea. This should be a temporary solution — never live in an Ikea for longer than four months because that’s just tacky and you are overstaying your welcome. Be sure to bring your own sleeping bag; you never know who tried out that futon. I recommend camping out in the children’s section in one of the beds that look like race-cars or a magical forest.
Remember to exercise. Living off Swedish meatballs cannot be healthy.
I plan to take a few months auditioning for, participating in and winning “American Idol” and/or inventing a way to drink red wine without getting the red teeth stain (a mouth-guard?), so that I can sell the patent for $2 billion. That way, when I finally decide to get an apartment, I can afford a really sweet one with a slide or a climbing wall, or maybe I’ll just buy a Discovery Zone and live there. In the meantime, I will mooch off my friends.
Mooching is an art. I learned it from a Mooch Master named Ned who coincidentally wrote my college recommendations. Mooching is not something to take lightly. You have to train for months and even then you could end up cracking under the pressure and getting a job. I reveal my secrets to you now only because I know that my mom and dad are the only people who read my column, and I have been mooching off of them for years.
How To Decide If You Can Join The Sisterhood of the Traveling Mooch
Write your hopes and dreams down on a piece of paper and put it under your pillow. Dance around your bedroom for one full minute and then pull the piece of paper out and read it. Are any of the following written on your paper? Being a rock star, being a famous painter, eating copious amounts of mac and cheese, writing the Great American novel, being fed by other people until the end of time, being a soap opera star or making a difference. If you have any of this written on your paper, you are suited to being a mooch. If you wrote “being successful,” “having a job,” “being responsible” or “making people proud,” you should look at craigslist. I hear they have a lot of really great apartments and jobs available to tools like you.
How To Mooch Responsibly
The following are the five commandments to keep in mind when mooching responsibly. If you can follow these guidelines, you will never be without a place to stay, macaroni and cheese and an infinite amount of time to “Make Art” (i.e. watch “Fresh Prince” re-runs).
1. Pick the object of your mooch (the moochee) wisely. Think about what you like — do you like meat? If so, don’t mooch off a vegetarian. Hello, when you come home from a long day of coffee dates, you will want to eat someone else’s frozen taquitos and chicken fingers, not their lentil and white bean salad. It is also wise to pick a moochee who uses the same shampoo that you use — you can usually figure this out by discreetly smelling people. Or asking.
2. Downsize. Do you really need your clothes? No way! The person you are going to mooch from has clothes! Wouldn’t you rather take your unicycle? Your harmonica collection? Your ant farm?
3. Carry napkins. It’s always very nice to keep napkins on hand in case you spill red wine on your moochie’s couch while you’re trying to invent the red wine mouth guard. You should also practice rearranging furniture so as to hide stains (always tell your moochee that you are practiced in the art of Feng Shui so they don’t get suspicious).
4. Always have pot. Would Picasso paint without a brush? People like you more when you have pot, and they will more easily forget that you broke their lamp, killed their gerbil and ate all of their chicken fingers.
5. Never have lice. That’s just common courtesy.
Now that you have learned how to mooch responsibly, you may venture out into the world sure that you will always have a place to keep your ant farm.
Eli Clark would never mooch from a beggar. We hope.