I received a beautiful letter from reader Arnold Kingston who wrote:
“As a long-time reader of your weekly column, I was wondering why you repeatedly refer to your wife as your roommate. It strikes me as a rather odd reference. I generally think of roommates as people who live together to share rent and other expenses, much like college students or others of limited means. Roommates do not necessarily have a personal relationship. Some may even be strangers and the relationship is often temporary. A spouse, on the other hand, is much more than a roommate. A spouse is someone to whom a loving, life-long commitment is sworn. A spouse is a mate, a best friend, a lover, and a confidant. The spousal relationship is therefore the most intimate of human relationships. For these reasons, I am puzzled by your reference. Why not simply call your roommate what she really is — your wife?”
• • •
Here’s my response to Arnold Kingston’s letter:
Thank you for your lovely letter and your great question.
It started many years ago when I worked as an entertainer at Gibber’s Hotel in the Borscht Belt. I was asked if I was related to the beautiful woman on my arm. “Related?” I said. “She’s not even a second cousin. We’re roommates.”
It brought a large round of laughter and I kept it in the act. I still call her my roommate, and you are correct in everything you say about a spouse — lover, confidant, best friend, etc. We have been married for more than 55 years and love each other dearly, and we still refer to each other as roommates. We continue to travel as if we are honeymooners. We have visited 44 countries and 43 states — some twice and some three times — and have 102 cruises under our belts. Cruises #103 and #104 are already booked.
Carol was a very active resident of Canarsie — PTA, Precinct Community Council, and Canarsie Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Many was the time I drove over to pick her up from a meeting and a friend would say to her: “Hey Carol, your roommate is out there waiting for you.”
This great question of yours has come to me from other readers, who also were always polite, just like you, in their letters. I’m thinking perhaps I may discuss it in a column. With your permission I would like to use your name. I will only use your name if you say I can. It is never my intention to embarrass anyone, especially when he writes a beautiful letter like this.
A great big “Thank You” to you, and many good wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy and safe summer.
• • •
Needless to say, I did receive his okay, and with it I created this column. I do receive a lot of mail and I attempt to respond to every letter, even if the writer disagrees with my opinions.
When a reader writes only for the purpose of being hurtful— and we have one who does that regularly — I heed the advice of two dear friends on the editorial staff: “Ignore him.”
I very rarely read his insults no matter what name he writes under. I move along without responding. After more than a quarter of a century sitting at this desk, I have corresponded with quite a few readers whom I now consider my friends. I also have several long-time readers who have named themselves “Stan’s Fans.” They do not appreciate the offensive name that the particular unpleasant reader calls them. I have asked them to ignore him as well.
I am StanG