Friday, September 25, 2009
Yeah well... so's your mother.
The crowded fountain in the apartment courtyard
I suspect there are few places in the world better for people-watching than Los Angeles. The city is renowned for attracting the odd, off-kilter, and bizarre.
One of these is my landlord.
Our landlord was German who spend part of his early life not far from Strasbourg (he was the son of a factory manager posted to Lorraine in 1940, until the family suddenly had to leave in 1944. “We were refugees from the West,” he told us, seemingly expecting sympathy. No comment.) He now owns our building and at least one other in our neighbourhood, as well as a mysterious “business” in Chile.
He is rich as Croesus, and owns at least three identical Mercedes Benz (white, black and red). He wears a cowboy hat at all times, as well as a Bolero tie fashioned from some kind of animal horn. He wears two $15,000 watches, one on each arm – one is set to German time, the other to local time.
As a landlord, he’s not bad – the place is well maintained, and most of the initial problems we had moving in were dealt with expeditiously. Nonetheless, I am plotting against him.
Why? Well, the day we viewed the apartment, after chatting about eastern France (and glossing over what, precisely, his father’s affiliations were that earned him, at age 28, the strategically important position of manager of a steel mill in occupied territory during wartime), he asked where in Canada we were from. I told him Halifax.
“Oh, Halifax, I have been there!” he said.
“Great! Were you on vacation?” I asked, expecting polite noises about my hometown’s many charms.
“No, no. My friend was visiting, and he had a heart attack. I went there to visit him in the hospital,” he said.
“Oh, that’s too bad…” I began, but he interrupted me.
“Let me tell you something about Halifax. I’ve been to many countries all over the world…” he began. I began a smile, expecting that he would finish “and the people in Nova Scotia were by far the friendliest!”
“… and the women in Halifax were the ugliest I’d ever seen. Really. The portrait of the Queen in the hospital was the best looking one I saw the whole time I was there.”
Now, Dear Readers, I would like to be able to report that at this point I drew myself up to my full height and launched into a furious defense of the womenfolk of my home province. But understand: we had not yet signed the lease. I had no home, Amynah really wanted the apartment, and this Stetson-wearing pseudo-cowboy held the key to my future comfort.
“Oh, well…” I smiled weakly, “I guess you were unlucky then.”
Forgive me. Though in my defense, I'm considering hiding a dead fish in one of his lovely cars.