My mental image of Peter

Peter is an old man who posted a room for rent in his apartment on Craigslist. When I emailed him, I took a formal tone, and I kept up perfect grammar and capital letters, because that's what his posting looked like. We got along immediately, and he said I sounded like "a nice young man."

I imagined him as a benevolent, oblivious Mr. Rogers, and I looked forward to the human interest story our lives would become when we became roommates. I would bring home crazy friends--mohawks, piercings, early-20s worries--and he'd show us the ways of the world with simple examples. It was going to be great.

I didn't know yet that he had 56k dial-up and that writing email replies was to him like sitting in a rocking chair for hours (or churning butter or talking about the weather or doing whatever old people used to do) would be to me. On the day I was supposed to go look at his apartment, I checked my email about every fifteen minutes, waiting for the phone number he hadn't given me because he was too scared of Craigslist criminals.

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