When I lived in NYC and had a shaved head, the two rock stars I lived with both had really long hair. They got annoyed with me because they said my hair was clogging the shower drain, which was obviously not the case. Basically, they wanted me to clean their bathroom because they thought burgeoning rock stars shouldn’t have to clean anything. They also thought they were burgeoning rock stars, even though Thomas spent most of his time sleeping and Jill spent most of her time exercising and handing out free samples in Union Square for $8 an hour.
Thomas worked at a diner and Jill was an “actress,” which means she didn’t have a job and occupied herself by working out all night, waiting anxiously for Thomas to come home after his overnight diner shift. When I say “all night,” I really mean it. I’d wake up to go to the bathroom at 2 AM and there she would be in the living room, lifting weights with some exercise guru on TV. She dyed her hair red and once asked me how old I thought she looked while we were eating some kind of bran cereal. I told her I was terrible at guessing ages, but I thought secretly to myself that she looked way older than she probably was, mostly due to her lack of eating, questionable dye job, and excessive weight lifting.
One time, I was taking an experimental movement class, and a South Indian woman did a passable monologue. She looked exactly like Jill – except for the South Asian and red, curly hair thing – and even spoke like her. Same timbre, same rhythms. She seemed to have the same dulled IQ as Jill, too. It was really uncanny. For some reason, she asked me where I lived and I told her, which then compelled her to share with me that she was having an affair with Thomas. Not confess. Share.
I want to make one thing clear: I try not to judge people when it comes to matters like this and frankly, I really don’t want to know what people do in their private lives. It’s private, and therefore none of business, which gives me more energy to focus on my own exciting, often baffling, and eccentric private life, which is much more interesting to me because it’s mine.
I never told Jill about Thomas and the cuckolding doppelganger – why she told a complete stranger something most people find morally abhorrent upon our first meeting, I have no idea. I didn’t tell Jill, not even when her dog died and I wanted to make her feel worse. It goes without saying that I didn’t like Jill. I didn’t much like Thomas, either, not because of the cheating thing, but more because of the doing drugs in my room thing while I was writing essays for school; reason being that he didn’t want to share the drugs with his band mates, whom he frequently practiced with at 1 AM on a school night. I think I was a senior in college at the time. I thought it was cool but selfish, and mostly it just sucked.
After the living-with-rock-stars and mice-in-my-hamper experiment, I moved to the Dominican-Hasidic section of decidedly uncool South Williamsburg with my friend, Rachel. It was a “three bedroom” and in order to make the rent we needed another roommate, so she signed a contract with a hot guy and former boxer who offered her a lot of cash upfront; he ended up squatting there for three months on his air mattress. I called the cops on him numerous times and the police laughed at me, saying they couldn’t do anything about his violent threats until he actually did something. I was appalled and surprised. I don’t know why I was surprised. I guess I was still naive about how our country treats threats of – and actual – domestic violence.
With this whole Ray Rice incident – punching out his fiancée in an elevator if you need a reminder – I find myself torn between my feminist desire for action and my personal feelings about not wanting to know what other people do in their private lives. You could say that because he’s a public figure that we’re entitled to know, that he has given up his right to privacy, but I’m guessing when he started playing for the NFL that he was more interested in being good at his job than in being famous.
I am in no way defending this guy, and I’m not saying that I’m not outraged and deeply disappointed that the public seems more interested in the prurient aspect than in changing how we treat domestic abuse in the legal system and workplace. The fact is, domestic abuse is a common occurrence. So what I’m saying is, I wish this fact was being discussed in the news, not because he’s a famous athlete, but because he committed this crime at all.
I have to admit, though, that if Thomas had been a super famous rock star, I might have cared more about his indiscretion, if only because I had some dirt on a famous person. I probably would have told one person who told one person who told one person until all the hipsters in the cool part of Williamsburg knew and hip-fully pretended not to care.
At any rate, Thomas wasn’t famous and I didn’t care – but had sympathy – for Jill, which in the end is why I decided not to tell her. I would have been doing her a (slight) favor, but between the manic exercising and the joblessness and her neuroticism, I thought she didn’t need anymore pain in her life.