Test Drive

We’ve been looking for a new apartment as our current one still smells like rotten previous-tenant food. There are other problems as well, such as the squirrel infestation (Mama squirrel cleans her fur on our balcony, they hiss when they scrabble for supremacy of the ceiling crawlspace) or the mysterious drippy substance that adorns each door frame, like a sticky-syrup Passover joke.

A. talks man-to-man with the landlords, as they are usually men, and I look for things to nitpick, like the half-full bucket sitting under the crack in the bedroom ceiling, or the fact that we have to beat the porch windows, flat palmed, to make them open.

“How close are we to the busline?” I ask. Landlord Beaky stares at me.
“You’re close enough to walk to ____ campus,” he says. “Why – I don’t get it – why would you need to ride the bus? You can just walk through the park.”
“Um. At night? No.” I doubt if he’s ever heard of a certain memoir related to the area, but that doesn’t really matter. This has just been an exercise to get my gut going with nerves.
“Do you mind if I use the toilet?”
Landlord Beaky chuckles and gestures to the bathroom.

I have tried out four toilets so far. It’s easier if I actually have something to do, because largely people seem to hide their bathroom reading material from potential tenants (unless it’s a Gaiman poster story, of course) and sometimes the landlord doesn’t like to stray far from the door. So it’s best to sound realistic. I acclimate myself. I practice reaching to the sink. I waste a lot of tp.

One guy was hesitant. “I don’t know. You really have to go?”
A. shot me a look. He may know and understand, but he also knows and understands.
“I think it may be an emergency,” I confessed. “Sorry.”

Atop the tank, next to a purple candle, sat a rumpled paperback copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

We have an appointment to sign the lease tomorrow.


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