Thursday, September 14, 2006

Apartment Investigation

I walked into the apartment at Rue Girardon with that sinking feeling of showing up for an Internet date. Things were almost, but not quite as they had seemed on the World Wide Web.

The tall, dark and handsome face from the Internet was in reality pockmarked and yellow-teethed. I vaguely remembered selecting a cute thing from the masses (I hurriedly selected an apartment during last quarter’s finals), but alas, I had been too reliant on the reality of photography, whose tricks can lend a certain beauty to cheapness.

Unforeseen Item #1: Martha Stewart’s rage

As Nelly chatted away on her cell phone, I toured the apartment (which was in reality about 30 percent smaller than it appeared in the photos). It dawned on me that I hadn’t seen any close-up shots.

People like to post close-up shots if it’s the Real Deal. They want you to know that they really do have flawless skin, or that they really did buy Versace throw pillows for the bedroom. Had I closely inspected the photos, I would have perhaps noticed that the chic, modern décor was Ikea quality. I’m no stranger to Ikea. The apartment seemed to be in good condition. I signed here and here like Nelly said.

But a closer inspection came -- after locking myself out and then eventually settling in. The photographs from the Internet are decidedly dated. Many of the apartment’s nicer items have proved to be fragile. The bed groans like a toad might. In low, enthusiastic hiccups. The hollowed stair to the bathroom (see Item #2) bends under my weight.

Worst, though, are the gifts left by previous tenants not depicted in the pictures. Bits of dinner stuck to pots. Crusted toothpaste runoff on a mug in the bathroom. Half-emptied sacks of rice and bottles of soy sauce. And how could I forget the chunks of dismembered cockroach scattered here and there. (There is bug spray under the sink, my roommate points out.)

Solution: It’s called a cleaning and organizing rampage. Trinkets and other useless items have been stored away (see Item #4) to restore that cleaner, modern style. I can now sit on the couch without feeling itchy.

Unforeseen Item #2: The Vacuum Cleaner.

Found it located in a secret panel under the step. Ridiculous, maybe, but convenient.

Unforeseen Item #3: The Neighbor

Coming into my building, one thing is immediately obvious: the neighbor’s dog must be perpetually wet, and constantly rubbing itself into the wall and stairs. This is the only viable explanation for the odor from the hallway.

I leave in the morning. Dog. I come home in the afternoon. Dog. I step out in the evening. Dog and chicken dinner. Oh, and cigarette smoke.

I have yet to see the dog in question (maybe it’s ten dogs?), nor its owner. But I have been able to deduce by peeking through the neighbor’s window that the smell of the dog has driven the neighbor to depression. The towering stacks of knickknacks, magazines, gardening tools and plastic dolls suggest a serious lack of motivation to clean.

Breakthrough thought as I write this – perhaps the dog isn’t wet all the time. Perhaps it’s never been wet! This would explain so much. The woman doesn’t have the will to clean, not even her dog. The dog has smelled so bad for so long that her olfactory senses have been dulled over the year, and she can’t figure out why her neighbors look at the dog with disdain. They must be jealous of its cuteness, she thinks. (The leash sitting out in the hall could only fit a small yipper of a dog.)

Solution: Undetermined.

Unforeseen Item #4: The Ironing Board.

Found it located under the bed, whose mattress flips up to the sky to reveal a hidden storage space.

Unforeseen Item #5: The Children’s Crusade

After a bout of cleaning I slumped onto the couch, which is also my bed. I was jetlagged and desperate for a nap.

It was at that moment that the sounds reached my ears: the shrill voices of a children’s playground. My building is surrounded by them. Children. Shrieking. The school is just below us on the hill, and a park sits on the other side of the building, hosting a younger collection of hysterical tots.

Solution: Undetermined.

Unforeseen Item #6: The Army of One

After a failed attempt to shut away the children’s cries by shutting the window, I retuned to the couch to nap, finally. I happened to glance toward the window. There, on the rail that prevents me from falling, was the world’s fattest pigeon. Staring at me. Two inches from being inside my apartment.

I stared back.

Through the jetlag haze emerged the possibility that the pigeon might actually decide to come in. That my gaze could be misconstrued as inviting. That he knew this was a good spot for cockroach bites. Visions of a crazed pigeon slamming its body into the walls of my newly cleaned apartment danced in my head.

“Absolutely not.” I said loudly and sternly to the fat, fat pigeon.

He just looked at me.

So I stood up. A challenge.

The pigeon ruffled its feathers.

I took a step toward the window, and he flew off in a flutter.

The windows haven’t been opened since. But I’ve seen him outside, on the roof opposite my window, watching. And every time I glare at him, he flits away. I wonder if the dog lady downstairs is feeding him. I will investigate.

(Solution: Undetermined.)


At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

Maybe you can borrow Miss Kitty from Nicolas. I'm sure she'd be more than happy to play with pidgey and roachey.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Emily said...

That is the most brilliant idea I've ever heard.

At 1:03 AM, Anonymous Miss Kitty said...

When can I come over to play with the rogue pidgey? Nicolas doesn't quite feed me enough.

At 5:14 AM, Anonymous Charlie the cat said...

I'll eat anything that moves! Coach, put me in the game.

At 4:57 AM, Blogger Buffy said...

I once 'moved into' a carpet that smelled like wet dog and garlic. It also stuck to my feet when I wore no shoes.

I'm all about those close up shots these days.

At 3:54 PM, Blogger kylie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger kylie said...

i had bird problems myself last year. my window opens out at an angle...opens from the bottom and the hinge is at the top. and as i'm on the top floor, the little birdies love to use the gutter as a landing zone. and last year a little birdie flew in to visit. fortunately i got it out with no problem, but now i'm completely paranoid anytime i hear them congregating below my window. my solution? hanging up cd's which are bright and shiny and sometimes clank (still less annoying than children screaming) and this seems to have fixed my problem. maybe it could work for you too? i have old cd's i'm willing to donate to your cause. although i'm not sure if you have any place to hang them from... :)


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