Recently I posted an ad on Craigslist, looking for a roommate. The prospect of having to share my charming Victorian house with a complete stranger was not something that particularly excited me, but my cash flow hadn’t exactly been flowing, and in this hated state of ebbing cash I had to find someone to rent my spare room, and pronto!
Being a follower of rules, I adhered to the strict warning at the top of the homepage where the Craigslist do’s and don’ts were posted. These guidelines forbade users from being gender specific in the wording of their ads. And if I violated this rule, I could face the possibility of being sued for $10,000 by some politically correct nimrod with nothing better to do, who had no understanding that I was not a bigot but rather, a single woman with a single bathroom, that I preferred not to share with a strange man and the random facial and pubic hairs that would inevitably turn up on the floor, the toilet and the sink; not to mention the drain in the shower!
So…as I said, being a person who is intimidated by authority and a rule follower, who fears even the slightest reprimand, I omitted “female preferred” from my ad. Never mind the string of posts that started with phrases like “gay male looking for a place I can be myself” or “hot trannie looking for same to share a house” I looked the possibility of being sued for $10,000 by some tool with an ax to grind straight in the eye and decided to play it safe.
Of course my ad was answered by several men-no surprise there! Most of these I ignored; I didn’t want to have to explain the bathroom thing over and over, as I rejected man after man, and that worked for a while. But there was this one guy who sounded OK, so I responded to his email and told him I might consider him. But the moment I hit ‘send’ I began to wonder: Was I courting disaster? And the more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I became with the thought of this guy moving in.
Now, my discomfort didn’t stem from the most obvious reasons you could think of. Like the one where this guy, a total stranger whom I’d met on Craigslist, turns out to be a serial killer who moves in and murders me in the middle of the night. Or the one where we’re attracted to each other and have totally hot, non-serial killer sex which makes us painfully uncomfortable the minute it’s over and I have to ask him to move out. And then there’s that having to put up with the stray hairs that are shed by a man I’m not having sex with thing, which probably doesn’t need repeating, but there it is anyway. Each of these reasons, as compelling as they are didn’t even come close to the real reason which had given me pause. No. It was this seemingly innocent phrase the guy had written in his second email: “I’m about to be divorced and I need to find a place to live ASAP!” Now this scared the crap out of me! Uh oh, I thought, if he moved in, my home would become his rebound housing. And this could be bad in so many ways.
The dude was obviously still living with his soon-to-be-ex-wife and things could get really ugly were he to move in with me. Did I really want to set myself up for even more drama than the daily recommended dose that I was already getting without his help? What would his soon-to-be-ex-wife think of his moving in with a single woman? Wouldn’t that make her angry and loaded for bear, even if she did want to divorce him? And would I then get caught in the crosshairs of her outrage?
Also, would I have to spend my evenings listening to a grown man weeping in the next room? I’d already been through that. I’d been married to it! And it hadn’t been all that long since I’d gotten a divorce and that my husband, the biggest weeper of all time, had moved out. (Another reason for my desperate need for cash; he had taken most of mine.) Maybe, I thought, the best thing would be to write this guy back and tell him I’d changed my mind. And maybe then I’d have the guts to re-word my ad and find that preferred female to share my house. Spoiler alert: Did that!
Lucky for me, I didn’t have to put the hurt on my almost roomie, because no sooner had I begun my descent into regret and madness, than the guy had a light-of-dawn revelation himself. He sent a third email telling me it would be a mistake for him to even ponder living with a strange woman, despite the purely business-like nature of the relationship. It was weird; like he’d read my mind or something. Or maybe I’d read his. No matter, whichever it was, I’m glad both of us came to our senses; before this coed cohabitation went beyond the confines of the two-dimensional relationship the internet had provided, and that no three-dimensional feelings got hurt. And oh yeah, I’m also happy that I wasn’t killed by a stranger in my sleep.