It's fun to parkour every time you want to pee

If you’re like me, and spent your six months in San Francisco living in a room so small that a simple midnight walk from bed to bathroom involved Bond-like feats of agility, you understand the desperation of people trying to find housing in this city.

We’re no New York, where millionaires brag about owning a full bathtub but still look to Flint, Michigan, and marvel at the fact that our rent could be a down payment on a home where my bedroom would serve as a walk-in shoe closet.

So I get the desperation of the people who responded to my ad on craigslist promising sweeping bay views, communal rituals, group showers, and a “buddy system.” I was talking, of course, about living in prison, on Alcatraz Island–an offer last available, I pointed out, in 1963.

In the approximately 36 hours before craigslist flagged the post for removal, I got no fewer than eight responses. One came from a retired journalist writing for unexplained reasons on behalf of his 21 year old son, whom he described, in a proud hyphen-happy endorsement as “a great kid, no bad record, out-standing arts-student.”

Jo the Merman of Alcatraz

Then there was Jo. “PLEASE LOOK NO FURTHER….I HAVE ALREADY STARTED PACKING!!” he wrote with an eagerness so endearing that it was already starting to annoy me. “THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THAT IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!”

Jo wasn’t just big on caps lock; he also believed in learning from others. “HOW TOTALLY BORING IF WE ALL LOOKED ALIKE, THOUGHT ALIKE, DID ALIKE!!!” he asked, or rather, exclaimed.   “ALSO WE CAN LEARN FROM ONE ANOTHER AND NOT JUST “DRY OUT”” That last part confused me until I realized that Jo was a merman.