BERKELEY, Calif.– Fueled by the torrential downpour of returning students, the City of Berkeley has been awash with new apartment arrangements poking up through the mat of NIMBY-imposed single-family homes. Faced with such an instance, Berkeley senior Ron Fariskachi was excited to visit his former housemate Ben’s new residence, only to be shocked by the shoeless regime within the humble apartment.

“I couldn’t have been more overjoyed to see Ben,” Ron reminisced , with a smile that faded as his eyes grew absent. “But he wasn’t the same man I remembered. Once it was ‘come in, kick your feet up on the coffee table, I’ll grab us a Claro Pacifica.’ But those glory days have passed. I went in to dap him up, but he extended his palm directly into my sternum and admonished me. ‘Sorry dude, it’s a no-shoe household.’ I still hear those words ringing in my ears, like a gunshot through my heart, though the bullet would have done less damage. I thought he was joking so I kept walking to the couch, and he slid directly into my path. The shoes,” continued Ron, wiping a welling tear from his eye, “came off and there I was, in my mismatched pattern socks, flat-footed on cold linoleum.”

Rapping his knuckles against the veneer top of his table, Ron continued his recollection, cooly glancing at his closed-toed, double-knotted Palladium high-tops. 

“It wasn’t just the betrayal that shocked me,” Ron asserted with a stern and resolute look in his eyes. “In reality, I was just as taken aback with the filth on the floor that he wanted my socks to kiss. The moment my arch lowered onto that oft-tread linoleum I could feel the collective consciousness of twelve billion microbes coat my foot like Venom. Usually you’d expect that stepping on tile would be quiet and sterile. Quite the opposite–I could hear every molecule of tortilla chip, flaked paint, and broken glass crunch against the soft palm of my foot. Does he not have a chore wheel with these roommates? How hard is it to vacuum once in a while, or judging by the floor, not to pour grains of rice and eraser shavings all over your house?”

Ben, however, maintains that the state of the floor had been vastly overstated. Polishing his glasses with a microfiber cloth, he scrolled through his camera roll to show close-up photos of the kitchen tile.  

“Ron is frankly out of his depth,” Ben snorted with a furrowed brow. “So what. I don’t want to live in the disgusting shoes-on-all-surfaces culture that we had at the Co-Op. I’m a big boy, and I have the right to let my dogs breathe in my apartment. Plus, since when did he care about vacuuming? He was always the number-one proponent of wearing his ‘home shoes,’ like just calling a pair of flip flops ‘home shoes’ makes them clean to wear on the BED! Regardless, my roommates and I already have a rotating cleaning schedule – we vacuum the living room once every full moon. Washing the bath mats and hand towels is looking like a monthly occurrence. It’s in early talks, but we might even establish a dishwasher schedule. Frankly, Ron can step off if he thinks he can bring his outside shoes here again, and if he’s making such a big deal about the floor then he can grab a broom and start sweeping!”

At press time, independent sources have confirmed that Ron’s floor is, somehow, still cleaner than Ben’s.

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