“I Lick My Cheese” is dedicated to “all those who have endured not-completely-optional co-habitation.” In other words, the domestic hardship of living with a roommate or—worse—roommates.
Inspired in part by a former flatmate of the author’s who constantly left her “interesting, funny and really weird” notes, the book is a collection of real-life, handwritten roommate-to-roommate missives, each one annotated with commentary by O’Hagan. The various epistles, collected over a period of years from a variety of sources—including the author’s Web site—have been photographed and reproduced one to a page, so as to retain the flavor of the choice of vehicle (Post-It, envelope, drug prescription, etc.) and evidence of “psycho writing.”
Predictably, categories include the “living room,” “bathroom/personal hygiene,” “food/kitchen” and “the bedroom.” The notes range from bizarre (“I am sorry I had to put my pee in the fridge”) to the disturbing (“After catching you sniffing my girlfriends [sic] tights—taken from laundry basket in MY room, you disgusting wanker, please get out of my house by 9 am Sunday—Please just F**K OFF) to the unmistakably blunt (“Either I go or you go”). Sometimes the simplest messages are most powerful, though, as is the case with the laminated note that states: “Your mom is not here!”
If you’re wondering about the book’s title, it refers to card on a refrigerator that announces: “Whoever eats my cheese … I LICK IT!!” According to O’Hagan, this is not an uncommon tactic for deterring would-be food thieves—and an effective one, too. My personal favorite, though, is not really a note at all. It’s a collection of what appear to be burnt French Fries, arranged on a white pillow to spell out the message: “Stop Burning Things.”