Matt St. John is a writer and author living in San Francisco. His works have appeared in publications like Vice, El Pais, the East Bay Express, and more.

There Goes the Sunset

There Goes the Sunset

Photo by Matt St. John.

Photo by Matt St. John.

One day, back in 2013 or so, I returned home from a long day of work to my roommates in costume: my roommate Chris was wearing a bumble bee costume, and my other roommate Jason was a mismatch of overalls, a pink shirt and a farmers hat. 

It was not halloween.

I remember Jason being in a makeshift dress for some reason. But when I asked Chris about it years later, he said Jason was wearing a cowboy for sure.

In defense of my memory, Jason's past pranks often had him wearing dresses. That just didn't happen to be true of this particular prank involving a lost iPhone, which Jason and Chris were trying to get back to some poor, unfortunate soul.

'Something tells me theres a catch,' I thought, as Chris stood there in his bee outfit.

The catch was in the details. They were going to get the phone back to the owner, that much was clear. But after all that work, didn't they deserve a little compensation?

Jason nodded his head in agreement.  

"Ok, so you are ransoming their iPhone?" I asked.

I didn't even ask how the costumes fit into their scheme. I’m not sure they would’ve had an answer.

Jason then handed me a long list of demands. I looked down at the list: a 12 pack of Sierra Nevada, a pineapple pizza, and much, much more.

The fact that I can't remember all the items on that list will haunt me for the rest of my life.

I also can't remember if Chris handed me the creepy, felt penguin costume, or if I insisted that I wear it. I'd like to say it was the former, but it could easily have been the latter. 

I went into my room and I put it on over my work clothes. The penguin costume covered my whole body, including my face.

Jason was very pleased with how creepy I looked.

I wish I could have been in that car when the iPhone owner pulled up. What was going through their heads when they parked in front of a dark house on 48th avenue, surrounded by a man in a bumble bee costume and a metro-sexual cowboy.

Not to mention the scary penguin staring down from the upstairs window.

They got a story, we got a pizza.

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When I first moved in with them, I thought Chris was behind these silly pranks. But after watching and participating in a couple, I started to notice that behind everyone of Chris' pranks was Jason's quiet smirk.

As I watched his pranks develop further, I started to notice something else about Jason. For every joke he played, a good deed would follow. One night he was holding a girl’s iPhone ransom, and the next, he was picking me up from the hospital (don’t worry, I got better). 

He even woke me up when a fire somehow caught on our back porch, which was located right next to my room.

 To say that Jason Zumbo saved my life is actually within the realm of possibility.

Some jokes make you laugh in the moment, but you forget the punchline later on. Others you don't get until later, maybe in bed or if they are really good, in the shower the next morning.

But I think I will be figuring out Jason Zumbo's jokes for the rest of my life.

Whether or not I ever get the punchline, one thing is for sure. 

San Francisco just got a lot less funny.

Piso Hunting in Madrid.

Piso Hunting in Madrid.

Returning to the United States after nine months in Spain

Returning to the United States after nine months in Spain