I Have A Roommate!

So I haven’t posted here in quite a while, but honestly, not much has happened in a while to blog about, until just recently. And here I am now.

So, I reconnected on facebook with an old high school friend of mine, and we were talking about our hometown of Missoula. Neither of us stayed there very long after high school, but both of us remembered it fondly. Life takes you places you weren’t expecting, after all.

Recently, he moved back to Missoula, looking for nostalgia, comfort, and home. Well, they say “you can never go back,” and it’s just sadly true. The old hometown has changed so much, he was deeply disappointed with the place. It has grown too big, there are too many new stores, new buildings, it is too modern, just… too much like California and not enough like Montana. And he’s right.

So I drove over there (I live in Butte, which is only an hour and a half’s drive from Missoula) and “kidnapped” him for 24 hours. I said “Take a look around you at Butte. We’re behind the times. The city is old, it’s falling down, it’s laid back, informal… this city today is like the Missoula you and I grew up in. You might get that nostalgia you’re looking for here rather than in our actual childhood home.”

And it worked. He likes Butte. I don’t blame him. I like Butte, too. People here are friendly, laid back, the place is NOT posh, it’s just comfy and kinda dilapidated. You don’t have to mind your p’s and q’s around here, because everybody’s dirt poor and we all just sort of get it. We’re all in it together. The attitude is officially informal and mellow.

So, I live alone (with my four cats, two budgies and eleven snakes) in a three bedroom apartment because my mother bought this duplex before she passed away, so I would always have a place to live. And I’m a hair’s breadth away from being a hoarder, this apartment is jam-packed to the rafters with stuff (junk or treasures depending on who you ask), but there’s a spare bedroom with a bed in it, so why should it sit unused? I told him to come stay with me, and he accepted.

I was talking to another friend of mine who works at a local pizza place here in town, and she mentioned that they need a day shift cook. Oh? My friend just happens to be a cook. In fact, he used to own his own restaurant. A quick phone call later, and he’s got a job waiting for him when he gets here. It’s like kizmet. The whole universe conspired to make him move here.

Now he’s been here a week. He’s been working for three days, and loves his new job. Came home from work today with a huge grin on his face and glowing report of happiness on the job. And he cooks meals for me, and I hate cooking! He calls himself my housewife, and seems to be blissfully happy about it.

What worries me is that I’ve been living alone for the last twenty years. I’m used to walking around my apartment naked and not worrying about what other people think and always doing my own thing at all times. I’m worried that the stress of having another human being (even a fantastic human being) in the house will freak me out and I’ll drive him away. I’m worried about this because I don’t want it to happen. Having him here is awesome. I think it’ll be good for me, if I survive it. I want it to work. I want to be adaptable and succeed in this whole “having a roommate” thing. It happened so fast, but it feels so right. The original idea was for him to just stay until he could afford and find a place of his own, but now I’m not sure I want to let him leave. I think having him around could be so good for me if I can learn to tolerate another person’s presence. Maybe he can help me de-clutter and get my life in shape again…

And just so we’re utterly clear, there is no romance happening here. He and I are like brother and sister. And he is as gay as a treeful of monkeys, and I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. We can ogle men together, even! It’s all good. Please, universe, let this be as good for me as it has been for him. I live in hope!

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My Real Life Candy Man Experience

So I’m sitting here watching a documentary that talks about an urban legend, The Candy Man, who kills children on Halloween by giving them poisoned candy. Interestingly, there are no actual verifiable instances of poisoned candy being found anywhere that the documentary is aware of anywhere in the U.S. It made me stop and think of a childhood memory of my own. When I was in the first grade, attending Lowell School on Sherwood St. on the north side of town (Missoula, MT),  there was a local Candy Man. He lived across the street from the school to the south of the school (so, across Sherwood St., between Shakespeare and Hawthorne Streets), and I lived several blocks away to the east, right by the railroad tracks, also on Sherwood St.
 photo map.pngThe thing is, at the time, we never thought anything about it. This would have been 1977 or 1978, roughly. I was six or seven at the time. The neighborhood kids, we all knew about him. Surely the grown-ups must have known? I don’t remember keeping him a secret from my mom or her boyfriend. I don’t remember ever being told not to talk about him to other grownups. But this was an older man (grandfather aged guy, white hair, wrinkled face, you know, an OLD guy) living across the street from an elementary school handing out candy to children. I’m not talking about Halloween, now, I’m talking about all the time, every day. You want candy? Go to the Candy Man’s house, he’ll give you a piece. He’s a nice old man. All the kids like him.

I don’t know the man’s real name. And he’s probably long dead by now. Please, no one reading this try to look him up. I’m making the point here that I know of no one who was ever hurt by this old man. I don’t know his name, no clue who he was. He was some old guy. Some old white guy. I’m not sure exactly where on the block his house was, I’m only guestimating on that map.

Was he a child molester? Maybe. He never laid a hand on me. My stepfather did, and I remember it quite clearly, so I don’t find it likely that the Candy Man did and I suppressed it. Also, all of us went to his home, boys and girls, of several ages, and if he was molesting us, surely we would have spoken of it amongst ourselves, or he would have gotten a creepy reputation. Candy or no candy, we would have stopped going. In fact, I can’t recall ever being IN his house, just on his porch. We all went TO his house.

Is it possible there are (or were, anyway) people who just happened to like children, and just happened to be genuinely nice people and just wanted to see us smile and hear us laugh, and were just giving out candy because they liked children?

Or maybe my memory is all fuzzy and soft and nice, but he was a monster, and other kids were molested and have lived with horrible memories all these years. Maybe I just wasn’t his type. Maybe he only liked little boys, but gave candy to all kids to “maintain his cover.” Gawd, who knows?

But what if he was just a genuinely nice, innocent person? They do exist in this world. This could have been one of the last hurrahs of an innocent tradition from a bygone era. I may have witnessed one of the last of them. Of a time when neighborhoods were a place where people all looked out for each other, and it took a village to raise a child, and the grandfatherly type would look out for all the neighborhood children, and honestly love and care for them all? Wouldn’t that be… kinda wonderful?

You know what? I’m gonna cherish my memory of the Candy Man, because whatever was really going on, he never hurt me.