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News » Deep End

Odd Couple

Hatch & Chaffetz’s roommate wars



The feud between Senator Orrin Hatch and Representative Jason Chaffetz is not new. It’s only coming out into the open now that young Chaffetz is trying to turf old Hatch out of the Senate seat he’s held for nearly a century.

The feud apparently started back when the elderly Hatch graciously allowed the young whippersnapper Chaffetz to crash on his basement sofa in his spacious abode in the leafy suburb of Arlington, Va. The frugal Chaffetz, newly elected to Congress, was fresh in town and didn’t want to plunk down cash on lodging, so, before old Orrin came to the rescue, he had been bedding down for the night on park benches, under bridges or in subway cars.

One night after a tough day of writing love songs in his Senate hideaway, the senior senator from Utah happened to spot a figure huddled over a heating grate on Pennsylvania Avenue. Seizing the opportunity, the prolific songwriter screeched to a stop and hurried over to the shivering citizen.

“Would you like to hear a song?” Hatch inquired. “It’s brand-new, and if you’ll give me an honest critique, I’ll let you ride around in the back seat of my car and warm up a bit. What do you say, young fella?”

Amazingly enough, the shivering citizen huddled on the heating grate turned out to be none other than Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who agreed to listen to the spanking-new love tune as long as Senator Hatch could give him assurances that his car was not equipped with one of those body-scan machines that show you naked.

“Everywhere you go in this town,” said Chaffetz, his lips purple in the chill of night, “you have to go through a body-scan machine that takes naked pictures of your naughty bits. I’d rather freeze my ass off than show it off. You know that congressman from New York? Weiner? He’s never met a body-scan machine he didn’t like. Every time they make us go through security anywhere, that Weiner guy keeps volunteering to go back through the machine a second, third or fourth time.”

Senator Hatch took Representative Chaffetz back home with him that night and told him he could sleep on the sofa in the basement as long as he liked, as long as he would continue to give him a full, honest and sincere critique of his love songs. “You look like you could use a hot shower,” said the solicitous senator.

“How do I know you don’t have any secret cameras in the nozzle?” said Chaffetz. “You’ll have to turn around while I’m in the shower.”

“The only other person who ever steps foot in the basement is Ted Kennedy when he needs somewhere to sleep off a bender,” said Hatch, and from that moment on, the two public servants from Utah became the very best of friends. Until, that is, the well-groomed Hatch noticed that his supply of cotton swabs was diminishing at an alarming rate.

“I notice that you are looking very suspiciously at my ears,” the cherubic and squeaky-clean neophyte congressman said one morning over a bowl of muesli, prunes, flax seeds and Noni juice—the usual healthy breakfast prepared by the spry and still vigorous nonagenarian senior senator.

 “I have perfectly ordinary-looking ears, and I see no reason for you to stare at them, Grandpa.”
Senator Hatch went back to the task of sorting out his daily vitamins, but resolved to himself that he would keep a careful count of his Q-tips.

For several months, according to acquaintances, the odd-couple relationship ran smoothly enough, given the built-in conflict between flaming youth and crabbed age. The youthful boarder pretended to listen carefully to his landlord and benefactor’s musical compositions, always giving an enthusiastic thumbs-up after the last chord.

There was, of course, the usual bickering over dirty towels on the bathroom floor, toothpaste tubes left uncapped and toilet seats left up. Senator Hatch continued to keep a careful count not just of his Q-Tips, but also of his secret cache of Oreos.

What finally sent young Mr. Chaffetz packing, say close associates, was a squabble over the remote control that lead somehow to a leg-wrestling match, where the older competitor easily bested the former football place-kicker.

“That young pup was overconfident,” says the wily geezer about his former housemate and future senatorial opponent. “Age and cunning will triumph over callow youth every time. I can’t wait until the convention when I’ll challenge him to another leg wrassle.”