May 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
We’re in the middle of moving out of my girlfriend Victoria’s apartment and into mine; we live in the same building but it’s time to save some money so we’re in the process of abandoning what we affectionately call the West Wing of the building to move into the East.
Victoria’s currently scraping the purple paint off the wall in the kitchen so that we can repaint it off white to satisfy management. Trying to get one’s security back when one is leaving an apartment is like trying to leave the Mob. I bear the emotional scars to prove it. I still bear rage toward the first landlord who ever laid down a test for me to pass in order to retrieve my ‘bond’, as they call it in Australia. ‘Bond’ seems to me to be a more accurate term, for one often feels like the guilty party as the landlord or building manager does their inspection. This is what immigrants must have felt like at Ellis Island: filled with terror that they wouldn’t get their brass ring. In both cases that ring means the same thing: freedom. Just give me my goddamn money and let me go! I scream to self in silence as said prick slowly, agonizingly peruses his apartment that he so generously allowed me to inhabit for a little time.
But back to my first experience in these matters. I had shared a beachside apartment in Sydney with two friends. We were all in our early twenties; young, dumb and full of… yeah. When the day arrived for the inspection, my two buddies were strangely nowhere to be seen. I was left there, alone, with a balding man sporting a large, red nose and fluffy, receding hair, similar to Doc Brown in the Back To The Future movies. Unlike Christopher Lloyd, this man didn’t seem happy with the hand of genes he’d been dealt. He was out for blood. The trouble is, I didn’t know it because he was also studied in the art of softening a potential victim up. He walked in and began peppering me with friendly questions about myself, my life and the reasons for my existence in this beautiful world. My shoulders relaxed and my breathing deepened as I realized that hang on, this man was absolutely lovely! A real swell! I did what I still do best: I discussed me, all the sparkly facets of me, in sensual detail and my sense of wellbeing continued to swell as I saw that he was slowly falling in love with me. Or maybe not so slowly. I saw him handing over my money, all of it, with a beatific smile spread across his unfortunate face. I saw us leaving the apartment hand in hand, eloping, lying under frescoed umbrellas on a Mediterranean beach. Romance was imminent.
We continued to chat for a couple of minutes and then very casually he segued into the subject of the apartment. How did I like it? Had it served my friends and I well? As he started to move through the place I told him that we’d all had a swimmingly good time. In retrospect, I should have seen the first danger sign: he had asked the questions but was no longer listening to the answers.
I could go through the litany of problems he found with his beloved apartment that day, but it would only result in you sending cards and flowers. I don’t need sympathy- I only need to do something with all this rage I still feel toward that evil tyrant (as opposed to the wonderful, altruistic tyrants that are out there). This post today isn’t exorcising the demons; if anything it’s only serving to re-animate them.
I paid that day. Dearly. For the curtains that he said we’d taken, only to later find out from my mates that his wife had picked them up days earlier. For the carpet that we’d steam cleaned that was spotless yet filthy in his eyes. For the fact that he hadn’t been able to get into the place to paint while we were still living there (illegal). For my Judaism (okay, nothing to prove this one but come on, all ye Goyim who read this: look into your hearts- you hate us). I watched in horror as the money I and my two friends had invested in the bond went down the drain- or, more accurately, into this monster’s fat pocket. To this day I curse myself for not standing my ground and storming out of there without signing off on the pittance he agreed to return us. I often think about this low-level scrooge; I wonder to what fate he has succumbed. We actually knew where he and his lecherous family lived- sometimes we would drop the rent check off at their house. Many times I fantasized about breaking into their home and dropping a large coiler in the middle of their living room. But when it comes down to it, people, I am craven, so I assume his crimes have gone unpunished. Having said that, many people have assured me that ‘what goes around comes around’…..
Does karma truly exist? Has he really gotten his in the ensuing years? If so, what form did the universal retribution take? The immediate hope is that he was killed violently: hit by a bus, eaten by a shark, forced to watch back-to-back seasons of Two and A Half Men in one sitting… that kind of thing. But a little more reflection tells me it might be better if it were death by a thousand cuts: the DVD from the video store doesn’t work, the dental floss keeps breaking, his beers are poorly poured (no head)… I’m confident that a couple of years of this kind of stuff on a regular basis would land him in the loony bin.
Alas… I don’t buy it. I think this character has led a wonderful existence. He sleeps like a tranquilised baby. His family loves him dearly and has gone on to even greater wealth and success. Worst of all, he has expanded his real estate empire, allowing the fleecing of hapless young punks like myself on an almost daily basis. His heart warms as he sees them crumble before his eyes, watching their cash dissolve like so many tattered dreams. He returns home to count his money, perfecting his James Bond villainesque chuckle as he goes.
And on the rare occasions that he finds himself in a sombre mood, he cheers himself up by immersing himself in the memory of a naïve young redhead with knocking knees, moist eyes and empty pockets.