High on the list of my favorite characters in literature is Bartleby, of Melville’s masterful short story, “Bartleby, the Scrivener.” Hired by a lawyer to perform clerical work in a Wall Street office, Bartleby does commendable work until, abruptly, he begins to refuse orders from his increasingly baffled boss. Whenever assigned a task, Bartleby replies, with infinite and inscrutable calm, “I would prefer not to.” Eventually it is discovered that Bartleby never leaves the office — he just sits there and declines to participate in life.
I can think of no finer exemplar of Bartleby’s spirit than Michael Rotondo, a 30-year-old man whose parents literally had to file a lawsuit to get him to move out. They’d apparently issued him five — five! — written eviction notices before taking him to court, and they claim he doesn’t even help out with chores around their upstate New York home. I mean, who is this legend? Two weeks after leaving college, I was scheming about how to escape my childhood bedroom, but Michael… just… stayed. Incredible.
Did anyone else know this was an option? I’ve been paying outlandish rents in expensive cities for more than a decade; I could have invested that money in, I don’t know, cryptocurrency? I don’t want to make too many assumptions about Rotondo based on his appearance and curious living situation, but given how he told a judge that he supports himself and, when asked to elaborate, replied, “My business is my business,” I think it’s fair to surmise that he’s mining bitcoin like a beast. This would at least explain his flowing, lustrous hair (conditioner isn’t cheap!) or that suit, which looks as if it was purchased on the Dark Web. Dude, you’re an inspiration.
I’m not sure if you’d always planned to go viral by squatting at your folks’ place, but seeing as you buy your own food, do your laundry, and don’t even really talk to them, I’m not sure why they’re making such a big stink out of this. Maybe they’re just uncomfortable having your katana collection in the house, or they can’t bear to stare at your neckbeard for one more minute. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with sleeping under the same roof as mom and dad, and the house seems roomy enough! I can understand, even with parents offering you money to get settled somewhere else, the impulse to be like, “Nah, I’m good.” In fact, I respect the hell out of it. Ballers gonna ball.
So, Michael, I’m gonna bask in your reflected glory — for now, at least, as it’s probably only a matter of time till we find out you love racist 4chan Pepe memes or challenging random women on Twitter to debate you. I’ll celebrate that you fought this up to a state supreme court, studying case precedent to make your legal arguments, which is arguably a lot more trouble than moving your belongings into a nearby apartment, and trollishly moved for an adjournment because a notice misstated the courtroom you were due to appear in. I’m definitely planning to keep track of the appeal you said you’d file after Justice Donald Greenwood promised to sign an enforceable eviction order. Let the middle-aged commenters call you an millennial brat and a lazy bum. They don’t respect the hustle. Besides, if they want to condemn you as representative of a failed generation, they have to take responsibility for creating the culture that produced you.
I hope, however, that you don’t meet the same end as Bartleby, who is eventually shunted off to jail thanks to a new office tenant and (spoiler warning) dies there of starvation, having been unwilling to eat. If there’s a lesson to the story, it’s that obstinance always meets a limit. Your protest is radical in its way, but you might, by abandoning it, discover the pleasures of independence in a small bachelor pad: freedom to play Xbox and watch porn at full volume, to burn your weird incense and cultivate new forms of shower mold. Complete control over the thermostat. Junk mail that is yours alone. Please, though, do continue your shitlord’s quest to assert the rights of disappointing large adult sons, if simply for our amusement — just be aware that they’re bound to change the locks when you’re at the midnight premiere of the next Marvel movie. And then it will be long past the hour to pack it up and hit the road.