One of the reasons that I haven’t had a roommate the past two years is that Susan would be virtually impossible to replace. She was and is wonderful in every sense of the word, from being kind and sweet and easygoing to being a good cook, a diligent housekeeper, and quiet in the mornings (not that I am easy to awaken in the pre-dawn, early dawn, or even mid-morning hours). Lately, however, I’ve been reconsidering having company. Partly the reason is financial—paying about $1400 a month, plus electricity, is a heavy weight for a person in my impecunious state to afford alone month to month. The other, is, of course, social—it would be nice to have someone around to chat with on the odd occasions when I actually get off work before dark. So, this summer, first with my brother, and then with the Navy midshipwoman, had been a trial run of sorts to see if I could accommodate such a person.
I have had more flat tires in my twenty-one year driving career than most people have in a lifetime. I average one every third year, and today, of all days, turned out to be the day for this triennial event. I’d been invited to lunch after church with the Wiggles, but had been asked to work. It occurred to me even before I’d reluctantly declined their company that even before the work, I’d already booked the afternoon to go out with a Russian-speaking friend (she and I went to a Peruvian festival down at the National Museum of the American Indian last Sunday, and rode the Smithsonian carousel on our walk back to Arlington), so as work didn’t need me, I confirmed with her that we were going to the National Gallery of Art and I would be at her house by two. Needing to change out of my church clothes and grab a bottle of Gatorade before we met, I parked on the street at home, because temp. roomie had texted me asking if her friend could take my lot spot for the afternoon. Hisssss! In less than a second, my rear passenger tire was flat as the proverbial fried batter, and I was looking at the wreck of my afternoon social calendar.
I went inside, changed, and called AAA, which promised assistance would arrive within 45 minutes. I went outside to clear the books out of my trunk (a heavy task) to make the donut tire accessible, and finished just as the repairman pulled up. He confirmed what I’d already observed, that the tire was unfixable, with a deep gash in the side. So while he put on the donut I rooted about in the middle console for the paperwork on my tires, which if you remember I bought new just a few short months ago. I found the paperwork for my old tires, but not the new, which I surmised to be in my filing cabinet, in the second bedroom, where temp. roomie is ensconced. I went in and knocked briskly on her door. Silence. I opened the door, and, there, spooning in the nude with a person of indeterminate sex but the same dishabille, lay she, asleep. I muttered a hasty “sorry!” and quickly shut the door.
This girl is not a Christian (her mom is, and had asked my friend Paul’s mom if he knew of anyone with whom her daughter could room during her Pentagon internship), but I would think that one should, out of mere courtesy, not engage in intimate activity while a guest in someone’s home. I had said her friends were welcome, and even offered an air mattress to one. But somehow I didn’t imagine that this would be received as carte blanche for sexual relations. And I’m somewhat nonplussed—how should I react? Should I just pretend that nothing happened? I mean, I was at church when she texted me about the parking spot, and I got home just twenty minutes later, with the flat tire affair occupying the best of the next hour. Had they only just commenced in the meantime, and I burst in on some sort of post-coital nap?
Speaking of naps, I think I will temporary avoid considering the complexities of this question by sleeping. I can’t get to the tire paperwork until they awake and go out, and Walmart’s Tire Center probably isn’t open on Sundays, anyway. But I think if I do advertise for a permanent roommate, I shall specify that they should be a practitioner of the Westminster Confession, a requirement which is vague enough to appear non-discriminatory, but specific enough to attract only Shorter Catechism types.