Tell Us About Your Worst Apartment

Illustration for article titled Tell Us About Your Worst Apartment
Screenshot: Joe’s Apartment/MTV (1996

Right before Thanksgiving, we published a disturbing story about a bed bug breakout and consequential lawsuit at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California. It was enough to make us all squirm, and to inspire the sharing of Joe’s Apartment-level horror stories of bugs and various vermin infiltrating our abodes. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve had to stop dating a guy because you found out he sometimes has rats in his North Philadelphia loft. Not mice. Rats. Roaches are often par for the course here in New York City, but fuck a rat.


So, we’re dying to know—what’s your worst apartment story? Is it as innocuous as, say, a roommate would should really invest in headphones? A closet-sized bedroom and a nonexistent bathroom? A landlord who can’t be bothered to fix anything, even after your kitchen catches fire? Is it bed bugs? I’m so sorry, if it’s bed bugs. Or is it something much worse? Please, for the sake of the story, top bed bugs.

But before we get to that, let’s take a gander at last week’s winners (or losers, it’s really all about perspective). Your terrible Thanksgivings:

Ivana Pusherova’s journey to shit river takes it. I am so sorry:

“Brown River”

I host my large family every year for Thanksgiving. We have an open layout and a huge kitchen where everyone gathers and serve dinner buffet style with 4 tables (2 adults and 2 kids). The only negative is our powder room which is right off the kitchen.

I ordered and brined a beautiful heritage turkey. Lovingly seasoned and stuffed it. My appetizers all came out perfectly! I make an amazing spicy sausage dip, which my Brother-In-Law “Clark” ate an abundant quantity- practically licking the dish clean.

As I was pulling the most perfect turkey out of the oven, Clark came out of the powder room. He said there was a problem....that’s when I saw it and SMELLED it. A brown river of SHIT was pouring out of the bathroom toward the kitchen and my turkey.

I threw towels and blankets over the shit river as Clark mumbled, “Something’s wrong with your toilet.” I opened the bathroom and inhaled the odor of a thousand rotten sausage farts. I vomited immediately on top of the shit river. I then locked the door and blocked it for the night. I ate nothing. Only tequila for the rest of the night to dull the ptsd from the brown river rescue.

The plumber the next day, $200 later, asked, “What on earth did that guy eat??” as he unblocked the shit storm in my bathroom. “Sausage. Lots of spicy sausage.” I will never make that app again.

lifeisshortfartoften, hero:

We went to my Uncle’s ski cabin for Thanksgiving one year. It snowed and my mean boy cousins made fun of me because they could write their names in the snow and I couldn’t. I tried,I peed on my new jeans, I cried, I got in trouble for not actingladylike. And then......I practiced every day for an entire fucking year and the next Thanksgiving I wrote my name in the snow first AND last.

ms pernicious anemia’s Thanksgiving was harrowing for both family reasons, and health ones:

two thanksgivings ago was the first time i had been with my family in ten years. i have a lot of food allergies and i gave my cousin a list and asked if she wanted help cooking (i had been laid off and had shit tons of time) but she refused. she made a big production of showing me everything i could eat, how she had marked everything that was safe for me. the next day i had patches of eczema on my elbows and knees and blood coming out of both ends, so i texted her and said, “are you really, really sure there wasn’t anything you may have accidentally contaminated, i need to know what it was so i can treat it properly” and she says “oh, well i put butter on the green beans, but that’s not dairy, is it?” and when i said “i’ve been throwing up blood and have bloody stools” i apparently ruined thanksgiving (the day after thanksgiving, because pointing out you’ve been poisoned retroactively ruins things, i guess) and her husband banned me from ever stepping foot in their house ever again.

a friend is taking me home with her this year, and in therapy this week, we practiced convincing excuses for why i’m not with my family without going into “white supremacist racist trash fires who have poisoned me multiple times.”


MeMeMimi’s Thanksgiving sexual awakening sure was embarrassing:

I was...12, I think? And I had found, in some magazine or another, a little blurb about a “romantic phone line”. It was a prerecorded message that was basically 90 seconds of a guy with a sexy voice talking about how you were the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, how he longed to take you in his arms and “make you see stars”, etc. It never got worse than PG-13 but, being young and this being pre-internet, I was SCANDALIZED. And aroused! I was beginning to have those feelings in my girlbits.

So I called it back. A different message! A different guy talking about my heaving breasts, how he wanted to kiss my neck and move further down, etc. Delightful!

I called that line several times a day to see if the message changed. It turns out that there were 4 different messages, one of which I didn’t like (the guy sounded too much like my uncle, which: no), so I’d call until I got my absolute favorite, listen to it, and then enjoy some quality time with my pillow.

You can guess where this is going, right? The mail came about a month after I discovered this phone line and my dad saw all these calls to a weird number. He called it, listened for a minute, then asked my mom about it. She denied all knowledge, and thus suspicion turned to me. I confessed, my parents laughed themselves sick, I did not. They got the charges reversed after finding the ad and noticing that it didn’t say anything about any charges. I got a lecture about proper use of the phone and thought that would be the end of it.


That Thanksgiving, my grandparents, aunt and uncle, mean-ass boy cousins, and a coworker of my dad’s came to dinner. This whole thing got mentioned and everyone enjoyed a great laugh at my expense. My mother quickly shut down the conversation, but then one of my mean-ass boy cousins shout-whispered “Oh Cliiiiiiiiiive, kiss me harder!” More laughter, and I ran out of the house in tears, going to the playground down the street and folding myself under the slide and sobbing until my frantic parents finally tracked me down.

...Jesus, remembering this is making me extra-glad it’s just me, my partner, a rotisserie chicken, a fully packed bong, and Red Dead Redemption 2 tomorrow.


Gwyneth P. is a reincarnated chicken nugget’s tale made me barf a little:

I grated a piece of my skin off when preparing mac and cheese one year. I tried to pick it out/looked for like 20-minutes before giving up.

Be careful what you eat.

Now, let’s hear about your shitty studio.

URL: Senior Writer, Jezebel. IRL: Author of the very good book 'LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands from NKOTB to BTS,' out now.



It was my and my husband’s first apartment. We were broke, so all we could afford was a dubious first floor in-law that was at least close to the park and beach (as much as you can use the beach in San Francisco). Anyway, we nicknamed this apartment “the cave” because the only windows it had either looked into an enclosed hallway or had the deck from the second story over it. So no natural light and close to the beach meant that our apartment was extremely damp. We had to run a dehumidifier constantly and filled up a bucket + of water a day. Which brings me to the first problem - mold. Nonstop mold that even the strongest bleach couldn’t battle. I’d clean the walls and the next day it was back. I was sick non-stop the year we lived there. I remember laying in bed just listening to the strange bubbling noises my chest made when I breathed wondering if I could get a better paying job when I could barely function enough to go to work.

The mold wasn’t our only problem though. We also had mice. Many mice. One day when I was home sick laying on the couch second-guessing my liberal arts degree I heard a noise - glancing over I saw a mouse crawl out of our toaster. The toaster was thrown away, as was a lot of food with dubious looking holes. When we moved, we found mouse droppings underneath everything. They were even in the bedroom, though I had convinced myself at the time that that was my safe place.

What other living creatures did we have, you ask? Bats. We had bats. Remember the enclosed hallway? We had to use it to get to our front door, only the hallways was also partially open to the sky. Apparently all the bats from the neighboring Golden Gate Park thought our hallway was the perfect place to roost (it probably was). I’d come home or leave every morning crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t find them roosting above my head. I usually did. One time when my husband and I got home, hands full of canned mouse-proof groceries, there was a particularly large bat roosting. I said a prayer and ran. The bat spread its wings and flew right at me. I froze and ducked and my husband, also running, collided into me and we both fell to the ground screaming with the bat flying over our heads. It was interesting to explain my sprained ankle to everyone though. After that, we put our apartment search into high gear and finally got an apartment whose only other unwanted living creature was a somewhat senile live-in manager who liked to leave vaguely racist notes next to light fixtures when their light bulbs went missing.