"We tried to find the visiting teacher a place, but even the hostels are full. Can you help out? It's only nine weeks."
I thought about this. We have a small guest house that's detached from our home. When we bought the place, it was dark and dirty, but over the past three years we have changed it to an inviting space with wood floors, light paint, and cute furnishings. Currently, its primary use is for sleepovers my daughters host. Still. The idea of having someone we don't know living on the property is a little strange, and I know this won't go over well with Bob.
"Yes, sure! Of course we'll help!"
He arrived on Saturday, and when the principal introduced him, I couldn't place his accent. Vaguely European? He looks like a child, although I will find out later he is at least in his late twenties. He is very thin, with pale skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. He is also very, very gay. This puts my husband at ease with the concept of a male tenant, and also mildly irritates him. Like most straight men who are not homophobic, he is uncomfortable with the sashaying, hand gesturing and giggling that accompany this visiting dance teacher.
"Where are you from?" I ask.
He sighs. It is, clearly, a weighty question. Why have I asked such a question when he is so jet lagged?
"Ohhh. 'Tis a hard question." His voice is nasal, and he sounds strained, as if it is a mammoth effort to speak, so he comes across both bored and pained. And with a slight head cold.
"I was born in Lithuania, but I've lived in Austria, Germany, France..." he trails off. "I need water. It is so dry here."
Later that day, I knocked on his door with a bag of sheets and towels from Target. He opened the bag silently, then took out the package of sheets. He held them in his hand at arm's length, then brought them closer, squinting.
"Are these black?"
"No. I think they're navy blue. But they're flannel. So you'll be warm. It should be well below freezing tonight."
He thrusts the package back at me, and I fumble as I grab the sheets. With a tsking sound he tells me, "They are cobalt blue. I am, how do you say? Allergic to cobalt blue." His body suddenly shudders all over as he runs his hands up his thighs and brings them to his face.
"I get hives. All over. You have tea? I have the ulcers."
He shuts the door. Eight weeks and six days to go.
I need to start saying no.