The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
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Journey to the Center of Craigslist: London calling, and calling, and calling -- part 3

Sandra Tsing Loh is excited about her father's new housemate who arrives from London on Thursday.

So I POSTED a notice on Craigslist to RENT out a ROOM in my DAD’S house in Malibu? And to my surprise, we were DELUGED with email.

"I guess I forget how GLAMOROUS Malibu is," I couldn’t help kvelling to my friend Tracy. "My dad’s HOUSE is old and falling apart, but apparently OTHERS see the word MALIBU and THINK Baywatch! Especially, interestingly enough, all these twentysomethings in the UK. A NEW British kid writes me every DAY, desperate to rent my dad’s ROOM. The economy in Britain must really suck."

"From the UK?" Tracy asks.

"Yes!" I say. "THAT’S who we’ve rented the room to. Kid from London, Tony, a 29 year old British CONSTRUCTION engineer. Arrives Thursday. He has a 12-month work contract here. I ALSO got an application from Natasha Smith in London, a young COSMETOLOGIST with another. . . 12 month work visa thing.

Plus from ANOTHER UK gal, an HIV/AIDS worker, 12 month project, Pisces, non-drinker, non-smoker, but nonetheless fun to be with, she says, with the interesting name of Laura Smirth, S-M-I-R-T-H. They’re all so anxious we hold the room for them--because apparently their COMPANIES won’t send them OVER unless they can PROVE they have a place to live-- Anyway, they’re so ANXIOUS they’re rushing us CASHIER’S CHECKS in advance-- My DAD is so excited he’s thinking of ALSO renting out the garage!"

"Just the London-Malibu connection. . . " Tracy murmurs, "it’s KIND of odd. Your dad’s HOUSE is a mile north of ZUMA. It’s not really NEAR anything."

"But THAT’S what makes it ROMANTIC, don’t you think?" I say. "Imagine these pasty kids in London, sitting there in the drizzle and fog, with their DULL construction engineering and cosmetology careers, trolling that little window of blue on Craigslist, DREAMING of California! Sight unseen! We don’t even have PHOTOS!

In America we’re so BORING, what with the endless credit checks and REFERENCE lists and the tedium-- We have no imagination-- Here this British kid TONY is jumping on a plane to LA, his only request: ‘Please be honest and loyal!’ What an adventure! Of COURSE we’re honest and loyal, if maybe not entirely sanitary. As I typed BACK to him, "You can TRUST us! Fate favors the bold!"

When suddenly Tracy erupts. "Sandra? I’m WONDERING if the London you’re TALKING about is actually in NIGERIA."


"I’m just googling Craigslist SCAMS in my IPHONE--"

"It can’t be!" I exclaim. "Tony SENT us a check already! And how can I not TRUST a. . . fun-loving Libra who enjoys soul food, soul music and bike “ridding”--admittedly, spelled with two d’s?

Next week: the dramatic conclusion!