Saturday, September 16, 2006

Madame Baustinette: the lunacy, the dilemma.

A photo of a blurry picture of the dog downstairs. The photo is taped right above Madame Baustinette's doorknob. The dog's leash sits on the floor below, and the dog's smell can be enjoyed anywhere in an approximate one-mile range of this apartment.

7:30 a.m., I discover that Madame Baustinette is hard of hearing. Very hard of hearing. The television downstairs is blaring at ridiculous volume. I can't make out the words through the floor, but I hear the rolling intonation of a French newscast.

I debate what to do. Should I go ask her to turn it down? I mull this over for a good hour and a half before the TV shuts off. And then I hear it.

9 a.m., The dog's name is Fifi! Madame Baustinette coos the name again and again. I sit up in bed. "Fifi, Fifi, my little cauliflower, would you like to go for a walk? Do you like to walk?" Do you like to smell so bad your odor drifts up through the windows upstairs?

Fifi was the name of the mad aunt's dog from my French textbook in high school. Tante Georgette carried her little Fifi everywhere with her, and obsessed over her. I didn't realize that my French textbook would ever prove so accurate. (As I type this, Mme Baustinette is saying, "Fifi, Fifi, not the drapes. Not the drapes. It's not possible! It's not true! Good, my little love.

3:30 p.m., I come home and Mme Baustinette is blocking the doorway, staring listlessly at the bottom step. "Excuse me," I say, and she jumps ten feet. "Oh, la la! You scare me!" (She didn't hear me coming, even with the grocery bags and boots.) She turns, still standing in the doorway. "Yes?"

"Euh... I just wanted to get by. I live upstairs."


Nothing. "So, could you please move over a little?"

"Oh! Yes!"

As I set off into the hall, she called after me, "Wait! Wait! Mademoiselle -- not without the light!" It was bright daylight, but I said thank you anyway as she turned on the light.


...After three mornings of super-loud television, I don't know what to do. Should I a) walk downstairs and ask her to turn it down, or b) suck it up and buy some earplugs?


At 5:48 PM, Blogger lost in france said...

Very funny! For some reason, Mme Baustinette's plea, "not the drapes" makes me think of the one of the witches in "The Wizard of Oz".

I can hear Mme Baustinette saying "Fifi, not the drapes". The drapes open, letting sunlight in, and then Mme Baustinette says, like the witch, "I'm melting!".

But then again, why would she want to turn on the light for you?

My advice to you is to buy the earplugs. Believe me, from my experience once you get involved in a neighbor's life it is hard to get out -- and this sounds like one life you should stay out of!

At 11:52 PM, Blogger Buffalo said...

I would probably opt for the earplugs. Either that or buy her a set of headphones.

At 1:33 AM, Blogger The Michael said...

You might consider another apartment altogether, investigating the thickness of the walls and the habits of the neighbors beforehand.

After all, the sweet little deaf as a log lady was there first......

At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Josh said...

I like the expression "it is not true" as a means of denying the reality that Fifi attempts to bring to her drapes.


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