By Mary Lynn Bruny

Early on in this pandemic – what feels like 437 days ago – I read an article that suggested that to reduce stress in your household, you should make up an imaginary roommate to blame the things your real roomie, significant other or family members do that annoy you. I loved this idea as when I was young my three siblings and I blamed every bad deed on our cat Meatball. She was a very, very naughty cat.

My husband suggested “Cynthia” as our fictional roommate. To me, imaginary Cynthia is that person at the office who is a stickler for rules and who is ridiculously tightly wound. The kind of person who notes when you are seven minutes late for work, or that you filled out form 502a instead of the updated 502b during the last pay period. She’s the type of person who is forever complaining about the smells wafting from the break room, demanding to know who heated up Indian food in the microwave.

Well, I was wrong about imaginary Cynthia. She’s not a stickler for keeping things just so. In fact, she’s a flipping slob. Turns out Cynthia, like my husband, really likes jelly and honey, and gets it on the kitchen hardware and counter every single gosh darn day. Thus when I go to open the refrigerator in the morning, I get that distinct pleasure (before even having coffee!), of having my hand adhere to a gooey handle. Oh, joy.

Cynthia is forever leaving dirty dishes in the sink, despite our house rule not to do so. We’ve been very clear with her on this, yet the dishes still pile up even though we never actually see her eating. Who knows what that’s about?

For some odd reason, Cynthia leaves my clothes strewn around our bedroom. I really don’t mind her trying on my clothes, but geez, why can’t she at least put them away? But really, why does she want to try on my PJs, ratty old sweats and dirty gardening clothes? So odd.

I think one big problem Cynthia has is she’s a boozehound. Man, the woman seriously puts it away by the looks of our recycling bin. She’s not particular; she’ll drink anything and everything. Worse, we never see her so we know she’s drinking alone. We assume she’s depressed, probably because she misses harassing people in the office.

Perhaps the oddest thing Cynthia does is with our cat Poppy. She takes that poor old cat and rubs her all over our upholstered furniture and our favorite clothes, leaving globs of orange fur everywhere. This seems rather passive aggressive to my husband and me. Perhaps she does this after all that drinking alone.

At the end of the day all my husband and I can do is shake our head in bewilderment at Cynthia’s behavior. It’s really good we have each other, because, really, Cynthia is just the worst.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn (ml.bruny@comcast.net) is a Boulder freelance writer who has written about home-related topics for many, many years.