The other night, Sgt Lucky and I were sitting around the house, doing what we usually do, which is:
-Writing little stories (me)
-Drawing comics (him)
-Eating dietic delights (both)
-Drinking wine, just for our hearts (both)
-Watching Comedy Central (both)
When his phone rang. Sighing hugely, he dug around in four pockets and finally found it, looked at the caller ID and said, “Oh Christ. What do you want?”
Now, this could be anyone. It could be someone at work. It could be someone he went on two dates with in October. It could be a utility company, trying to figure out which apartment we’re in. (This is harder than you might think. According to Con Edison, por ejemplo, we are either in Apt 4 or Apt 2 or Apt Place That Some Dude Named Oliver Used to Live in.)
However, as soon as he picked up, I knew from his tone that it had to be my old landlord. And I knew this because he sounded like his very soul was being sucked out through the phone, which is exactly how I used to feel every time I talked to him, before Sgt Lucky stepped in and informed him that I wasn’t taking phone calls anymore and that from now on, he’d be dealing exclusively with the man of the house.
Before you get upset, I have not renounced feminism and become a doormat. However, sometimes people won’t listen to me, because they’re sexist, or because I’m only about five feet tall and frequently misplace things like my keys or my glasses or all my identification shortly before going on a trip.
Now, you and I know that none of this makes me any less intelligent or deserving of respect. My old landlord, however, seems to think that I’m a cat who has learned to speak. Anything I have to say is adorable, but not exactly something he, um, cares about.
Here’s an example.
Sgt Lucky and I had been dating for a few months, and spent about five days out of the week together, many of them at my apartment, due to the fact that I have cat allergies and have panic attacks when I’m separated from my things. One day, I run into Evil Landlord in the hall and he mentions that my lease is about to be up in three months.
“I really need to know whether or not you intend to stay,” he says. Here I should mention that Evil Landlord is Iranian, because everything sounds extra formal and serious when said by people who speak your language very well, but somewhat formally.
“Well, uh, I think so,” I said. “Do you really have to know right now? My lease isn’t up til the end of May.”
“I need at least 90 days notice,” he said. Why? We don’t know. I’m pretty sure he had an anxiety disorder. We recognize our own.
So I sit down with Sgt Lucky and talk things over. At the time, I was getting shots to try to desensitize me to kitties, and it looked like it would be at least a year before I could live with his girls. So we decided I’d renew, but see if I could get a flexible lease. I left a message on his machine and waited for the lease to appear, as it had in previous years, on the table in the hall downstairs.
Did I mention he lives in the building?
That’s important, because when he called back – two weeks later, but who’s counting, that’s about the same amount of time it took him to call me when I said the toilet was broken – the first thing he said was:
“Well, the issue is, [Sgt Lucky] is there a lot.”
Every part of my face went cold and prickly at once. If I could have punched through the phone, I would have. “Well, that’s none of your business,” I said.
“It is my business, because it’s my building!” he said. “Let’s forget this nonsense about none of my business! I have a right to know what what’s going on in my house!”
Key quotes from later in the conversation:
“You have a right to live your life however you choose.” (People only say this when they think you should live your life the way they want. See the past few decades of the Republican party.)
“I’m concerned about wear and tear on the apartment.” (Cut to Sgt Lucky, sitting quietly on my couch reading Watchmen.)
“I just want to know the truth!” (When I told him that Sgt Lucky wasn’t, in fact, living there, and what else did he want?)
After I decided to move out, and move in with my new and most congenial roommate, Evil Landlord called me at least once, and sometimes up to five times a day to ask me to show the apartment to new suckers, provide insurance info from the movers, tell him when I would have the place cleaned out (he was hoping muuuch earlier than when I was supposed to be out) etc, and so on.
All of this is normal landlord stuff, except for the frequency. When he finally called me twice before 10:00 am, I lost my mind.
“YOU ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY,” I yelled, walking along 7th ave where absolutely no one was looking at me. (I still love you, New York.) “Stop calling me. Stop bothering me. I’m moving out. Just leave me alone.”
And now Sgt Lucky has to deal with him. Poor fella. Such are the wages of love.