Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Roommate, My Murderer - Part 1

This past spring, after the missus moved back to her native United Kingdom, my dread of loneliness was such that I advertised on Craigslist for a housemate, even though I’ve had a very spotty record of sharing my digs with a non-lover. The only one I really got on with was the first, Mr. John Blodgett — a folk dancing enthusiast who wore a plastic pocket protector in the breast pocket of his shirt — and that’s largely because every Friday afternoon he drove eagerly south to his ancestral home in Escondido, California, not to reappear until Monday night. When I signed on for a second year at the same dormitory, I had the bright idea of sharing a dormitory room with the late Ronnn Reinberg, but I couldn’t stand his pretentious self-described filmmaker girlfriend, and he and I wound up not speaking the last couple months of our co-habitation. In my senior year, I first shared a large studio apartment with two fellow prospective dorm escapees, one of whom wound up coming after me with a knife, and then a one-bedroom apartment on one of the dreariest streets in all West Los Angeles with the one who hadn’t wanted to kill me. We too wound up not speaking.

After a few months of tortuous solitude down in Venice, I moved up to West Hollywood, and shared the top floor of a haunted house on Selma Avenue with my friend Ward, who wound up leaving me for his girlfriend. My heart was shattered, and I had to come up with the whole monthly rent of $120 on my own!

Between then and this past April — a span of 39 years and seven months, I have lived only with lovers — all women, owing to my heterosexuality. So it was with the utmost trepidation that just a few days after my birthday in May, I rented out what had once been Claire’s office to Faroukh C—, a Web developer from al-Marawi'a, Yemen. He was soft-spoken and deferential, and claimed to be wonderfully tidy, quiet, and considerate, though not compulsively tidy. Before taking his present position, he had worked as a chef in a vegetarian restaurant, and would be delighted to cook for me if I would only pay for my share of the ingredients. His job required him to be on-site down in Westchester 10 hours a day, and it was an hour's commute each way, so I would see him mostly on weekends, but probably not very often on weekends either, as he tried to spend as much time as he could with his girlfriend in Connecticut. He obviously wasn’t going to have much effect on whatever loneliness I might suffer, but his $800 per month was certainly going to come in handy. What sealed the deal was his begging me to play him a couple of tracks from my recent album Sorry We’re Open, and being incredulous that a composer of my obvious brilliance wasn’t internationally celebrated.

For the first couple of weeks, everything went splendidly. ‘Roukh, as he gave me permission to call him, was indeed out of the house for long stretches, during which I enjoyed my privacy, and also enjoyed looking through his personal things. I took to retiring before his return from Westchester, so I’d see him only on Sunday nights, when the house would fill with the delicious smells of his cooking. He would make enough for the entire week; I’d never eaten so well. We’d chat for a few minutes, and then watch Who Will Be the Next Food Network Star. We were rooting for different contestants — I for the rotund Indian woman, he for the rumpled young line cook from Ohio who looked as though straight out of a Judd Apatow movie — but it caused no animosity. We agreed that Judd Apatow movies aren’t very funny.

[Continues next week!]

1 comment:

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