My roommate Matt is moving out of our apartment at the end of the month (artistic differences) and so is desperately trying to sell his lease. He recently posted it on Craigslist and yesterday got a very interesting email from someone named Ray:
This apartment sounds great, and the move in time sounds ideal for my situation. I was so relieved to see that the rent was so affordable, much better than what I have been paying for the past ten years (my mother has charged astronomical amounts, but I've stayed to tend her cats). Please let me know more about the apartment and roommate. Regards,
What questions do you have? The roommate is a great guy and it's a wonderful apartment. I believe it is about 1100 sq ft.
To which Ray shot back:
Hello friend!What are utilities usually? And why do you say your roommate is a great guy? Often I've found that the only people I feel are truly "great" are war hero's and saints. I suppose my childhood friend, Bill, was great, but he died which proves that greatness will only take you so far.
So excited to finally meet you, I love making new friends (maybe we should move in together. Are you looking for a roommate?).
At this point Matt forwarded me the communication and I couldn't help myself. So I wrote the following email, which Matt then sent to Ray:
I am so excited that you want to be my friend! I thought when I posted this that I would maybe meet a couple of people, but I never thought I would be able to start a close relationship with someone! I often have close friends that leave me after a while because they say they need their space, which is interesting because they always leave me to go be with someone else, which doesn't look like space at all to me. But what do I know--I spent the better part of my early adulthood in prison where space isn't exactly one of the feature attractions (although I find that if I close my eyes and use my imagination, I can feel like I have infinite amounts of space, which usually makes me feel lonely, even though there are several people around me. It's crazy that I can stand in the middle of a crowd of people and feel loneliness. Come to think of it, Woodstock '69 was probably the loneliest time of my life. But that had more to do more with the fact that I showed up at the wrong field and actually spent the next several days alone, listening to music in my mind (because we didn't have iPods back then) thinking the whole time that Woodstock just had a really embarrassing showing. The whole time I only saw about 4 other people and they were all homeless. I could have sworn someone said it was supposed to be in Alabama. Boy was I wrong! But I did learn about survival at that time. Which reminds me, do you want to go camping this weekend? I know a few great spots downtown we could go.).
Let me know if you want to hang this weekend. I'll be at the Barnes and Noble all night starting about 7:00 on Friday (unless they make me leave again because of their whole "shirt" rule). It's the one in Sugarhouse. Do you know it? I'll have a book ("The Berenstain Bears Learn to Share"--Unless I finish it before then. I'm on page 4 now) and a rose. Just come find me at one of the tables.
To my absolute delight, Ray responded with this beauty:
I could not believe my eyes when I saw your email after logging onto my computer, signing into my wireless network, entering my user-name and password for Yahoo! Mail, and then clicking on my in box; you called me Raymond. How you knew that this is what my closest friends call me, I don't know, but it is one of many signs that there is more at work here than mere chance alone. Space issues are so fascinating. What is space anyway!?!? Although I cannot personally relate to being imprisoned (which shocked me by the way. I mean, who could imprison you? Hello? There's a thing called the constitution which protects you from that stuff. But hey, who I am to judge.), I can relate to the lonely nature of prison. As I mentioned in a previous email, I tended after my mother's cats while she charged me exorbitant sums of money for renting with her. I needed to tend the cats because mother was under federal custody in the Draper, UT, correctional facility for ten years. She enjoyed her stay immensely, and I always got my rent to her on time by the way. In June of 2009 I went by to drop of July's rent, but the female guard accidentally signed me up for a conjugal instead. My mother and I didn't understand why were met in a private room with a bed, but we certainly didn't waste the opportunity! We snuggled right up and took a nice long nap (I smelled like her cats, so she wore my shirt, which must have seemed odd to the guard who came to get us, but it's normal to miss your cats).
Sorry to hear you missed Woodstock, though it sounds as though you had an equally fun time as anyone in NY. When you mentioned '69 it brought back memories of a night in Amsterdam I had on my 30th birthday. Late that night, after all my sisters went back to the hostel, I walked down to the red light district, having heard from several tour guides stationed on street corners that I would have a great time there at night. The place was bustling, let me tell you. I was like, "where am I, China!?" (if you know what I mean). Anyway, I stumbled upon this great spot where I had the best night of my life. I was so sore the next day having never played Netherlands pool before. The rules are very similar to our pool halls, except that there their balls are lead, so they can be quite difficult to hit.
The Barnes and Noble rendezvous sounds spectacular. The Sugarhouse one is so peaceful, though some odd people sometimes wonder through. I'm actually quite allergic to roses, so unless you always read with a rose, maybe a daffodil would serve us both better. Not to be too forward, but maybe we can read the last few pages of your book together, I've heard that series is simply exhilarating when read aloud. After that we should go camping in mother's backyard. The warm smells from the house are so nice on cool nights stretched atop the soft soil. What about the apartment though? When are you available to show it? I'll be downtown most nights this week, so just let me know the address and when and I'll be there. Either text, call, or email me the specifics. Best regards,
I then wrote back:
Is it ok I called you "Sunshine Ray?" I'm all for using popular nicknames but if we're going to start any kind of special friendship (and I'm speaking of the bosom buddies persuasion) I would prefer to have a unique name to call you and in order to best facilitate a hit-the-ground-running situation, I should probably start using that nickname now. But I don't want to use it if it belittles you in any way. When I was 10 there was a boy in my class whom everyone called Stinky Steve until Mrs. Goodrow told us that his family moved away because the kids were too mean and they wanted to give him a fresh start. Naturally we all started calling Bully Brad "Stinky Steve" the next day, but this led to a very different result. Also in high school a girl I knew named Claudia came down with a bad case of Chlamydia. I referred to her regularly as Chlamydia Claudia until one day in 10th grade health class Mrs. Roberts showed us pictures of the top 10 most common STDs, after which I avoided Claudia enough that I was never given the opportunity again to call her any name at all. In that same class we were also forced to watch the birth video. This didn't disturb me until about half-way through when I found out that what was being portrayed on screen was not actually a bad sci-fi movie from the '80s. I haven't actually eaten anything since that day, which has been fine as I'm trying to get my weight down to 85 pounds by 2013. I know that 85 sounds like an awful low number, but rest assured, I fully expect to have one of my legs amputated before then, which will be a pretty abrupt weight decrease.
I'm sorry to hear about your mother. I'm pretty sure I knew her (and not through conjugal visits). I think she was the one who could roll cigarettes the fastest and contradictorily quoted Confucius but then swore like a drunken sailor whenever anyone got her talking about politics or French cheeses. She shared a cell with Bigmouth Bertha until Bertha contracted leprosy and got stuck in solitary. Everyone felt badly for both of them because they were so good together and gave each other great back massages every night. Then a woman from Myanmar moved in and wouldn't talk to anyone because, so we thought at the time, she was too good for the rest of us (she had a gold ankle bracelet when she first got there so we all assumed she was rich--as it turned out, it was a fake). She was killed in a prison brawl one night. We found out the next day that she was deaf.
I put down the Berenstein Bears because I'm starting to realize that it's the same old story every time. One of the bears is in trouble. The others pitch in to help. Everything turns out fine. If these are the kinds of books they're pushing on adults, it makes me wonder what the kids are reading.
The rose is fake. I don't use real flowers because it promotes the use of pesticides which I do not support. I am all for living in harmony and peace with all living organisms, including insects. I'm thoroughly disgusted that so much of society assumes that it's perfectly acceptable to kill bugs for human enjoyment. For this reason, I always refuse lettuce and tomatoes in my hamburgers at Burger King.
On a more serious note, I'm particularly relieved to hear about your experience with cats. I currently have between 12 and 14 living in the apartment. My last roommate was completely unreasonable and issued me an ultimatum that it was either him or the cats. Had he given me the option of promising to only let 5 or 6 out of the refrigerator at a time I would have been more willing to negotiate, but he had a very all-or-nothing mentality that I couldn't work with. Ultimately he had to leave and not the cats (thank heavens for fine print in leases, am I right?). I think it was for the best anyway. He was always complaining about something ("the cats destroyed my laptop again!" "When are you going to take a shower?" "Why has kitchen burned down?" etc. etc. etc.).
I will be home every night this week and would love to have you come by. Please call me and we can work out a meeting time.
Scat Cat Matt
Ray responded with our last communication of the day:
If I can be direct, I need to make you aware of a few things. First, I love the nickname Sunshine Ray! Secondly, and I hope this is received with love and not hate, you should NEVER subject cats to the refrigerator. I can't tell you how troubling that was to read -- I had to excuse the cats from the room while I read the rest of your email due to its graphic and disturbing nature -- so please never do that again. Additionally, I completely respect your stance of insect protection, but my hell man, you're still eating the beef meat! I love all animals, though I do eat fish (for personal reasons I have a strong distaste for fish, and feel it my responsibility to depopulate the seas of their pernicious ways).
Ray or as my new friend and love calls me, Sunshine Ray
I think I may have found my soul mate.
Click HERE for part II.
~It Just Gets Stranger