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Roommate Roulette

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent involved…)

Believe it or not, there are worse dangers lurking in the Holy Land than masked Hamas terrorists, garinim missiles spat from the mouths of our less cultured Israeli brethren, or kamikaze motorists! The danger I am alluding to is ROOMMATES - people you elect to share your living space with, without really knowing who they are or what potential horrors the experience might unleash.

Ever since I arrived in Israel four years ago, I have shared my living space with nine different roommates in three different apartments, so I reckon I am quite the expert in this regard. First there were Mandi and Mark - Mandi was from Washington D.C., Mark from the Western expanse of Australia. They were kind of living together - Mark was in the army and came "home" on weekends. After six months, another occupant moved in, a feline stray that Mandi took in after hearing his plaintive mews. Damn cat! Furball was totally psychotic, no doubt traumatized by his beginnings on the street. Of course I was simply delighted by his arrival and often fantasized about cat-napping him and dumping him on the other side of Jerusalem, but he hated me so much, I just knew the miserable creature would find its way back and scratch me to death! So I suffered under the wrath of Furball until Mandi and Mark decided to get married, and kindly threw me out the apartment. Furball had a smirk on his face for weeks!

My next apartment was a beautiful Arab house in Baka. I was totally seduced by the spaciousness and high ceilings. The fact that my room was a tiny converted balcony did not deter me. Nor did the two Israeli roommates, who were religio-bohemians, and not exactly honest. It became apparent to me in the advent of winter that I had been deceived, when during the first rains, my room turned into something approximating the Okavango swamp minus the animals! Indeed, my dear roommates had knowingly kept this rather important information from me. I won't bore you with the details of how I left the swamp but suffice to say that my first experience of dealing with Israeli lawyers was pretty positive!

Roommate number five was a lovely Australian woman named Lauren, and I happily settled into her furnished apartment where I have been ever since, although, after a year, she married and immigrated to Korea (don't even ask!), leaving me in an empty apartment. It was about this time that I shipped all my belongings from South Africa and became a roommate hunter. My first experience in this role, was another roommate disaster story! Suzanne was a British gal, with how should I put it, rather serious issues? She conveniently had phobias about cleaning liquids and smartoots (cleaning rags), thus preventing her from participating in any cleaning activities. She heard voices other than mine and claimed to be psychic. She was also phobic about buttons - you know those innocuous little things that hold your trousers up or keep your shirts together? Luckily, life in Israel wasn't to her liking and she returned to the comforts of England after a mere three months. I'd be lying if I said I mourned her departure.

After Suzanne followed two years of wonderful friendships with two very special roomates who I know will be lifelong friends! Arianne was a native Californian studying in Israel for a year, and Amit, a native Israeli Anglophile with an endearing personality! Unfortunately, who could blame him, Amit yearned for his own living space and moved out to live alone a month ago. Which brings us to today, and to Nikki my new roomate, also from California, who has just moved in. Last week there was a message on our answering machine from her psychiatrist in Los Angeles…uh oh, not a very good sign I fear...