Definitely not totalitarian … ?

April 5, 2007

I am new to apartment-scouting on Craig’s List. And to its particular code: “Clean freaks particularly welcome”, “Everything included but meals and sex”, “FEMALES ONLY – 1 Bd share with (mature) male”, “Request reply in proper English”, and the terrible things you are – understandably – not allowed to say – “no children”. My favorite were those postings from which I could glean stories or make up a scene about their author. I imagined that messy artsy girl lint-rolling her guests as her cats shed all over them, or the quiet secret lives of musicians, or the conversation that lesbian couple must have had before they decided to rent rooms to “males only”. Had there perhaps been some previous tension with a former tenant of theirs…hmm…? Moreover, oblivious as I usually am to most colloquial jargon, (NB am not American quite yet), the Craig’s List code confounded me. What was this 420-friendly business people kept referring to? I had to look it up on Urban Dictionary. So apparently, “420 originated at San Rafael High School, in 1971, among a group of about a dozen pot-smoking wiseacres who called themselves the Waldos”. I am sure everyone in the world probably already knew that, but had just forgotten to tell me. I even learned how to use it in a sentence: “Hey, is this party 420 friendly?” Hopefully, the scene is 1960-something London and I tell a roguish photographer that we’re in Paris…

But in all seriousness, with its personal ad quality, Craig’s List shares are not about renting a room, so much as about selling yourself, or a certain aspect of yourself, in code, about trying to put your own lifestyle and desirable lifestyle into words, and at the end of the day, living with strangers. And poking fun at the rest;-) To quote Quentin Tarantino’s alleged former self, “To-night we’ll wander through the streets and note
The qualities of people. Come, my queen;
Last night you did desire it”.

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2 Responses to “Definitely not totalitarian … ?”

  1. Musie said

    I like the idea of peeking in to people’s lives in that manner. My peeping tom nature tends to come out at the grocery store. It’s amazing how much you can invent about a person from the contents of their shopping cart. Cat food, dog food, meals for one. Slimfast drinks. A pregnancy test, hidden underneath other stuff. Gourmet treats, paired with a smile. It’s one of my favourite places to people watch.

  2. Musie said

    ps. how on earth did you not know what 420 was, silly lovely girl?

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