Saturday, October 29, 2011


Last week, Dave and I viewed two apartments.

The first apartment was a stucco building in view of a cemetery. There was a stone owl on the roof, which Dave explained was meant to scare away real flesh-and-feather owls and evil spirits.

We were greeted by an older man with a Magic School Bus T-shirt. Until that moment I had forgotten that Magic School Bus and Miss Frizzle existed. Do you suppose she’s married now? I should have asked the landlord, since he seemed to be a diehard Frizzle Fan.

We passed a tiny front yard full of Fisher-Price toys (probably belonging to the landlord) and followed the landlord into the building. The first sound I heard was the wail of a crying infant.

“Already?” I sighed.

After three flights of stairs, we reached the Lucite crystal door handle of our apartment. Inside, the dark hardwood floors were newly installed and recently waxed. The powdery walls were freshly whitewashed and blinding. Every surface was fuming. I looked to the windowsill, where a bottle of Orange Glo, Windex, Lysol, and a box of Raid conspired. I slowly quickly became unpleasantly intoxicated by household chemicals. The window panes beyond the sill displayed the somber view of a cemetery.

The landlord began to glide his Swiffer mop around the parameters of the living area.

“I just discovered Swiffer mops,” he explained. “They’re amazing.”

We opened the bedroom closet, which had been nonsensically whitewashed from top to bottom. I began to suspect that a heinous crime was being covered up in this apartment.

“What do you think?” Dave asked.

“I can’t think,” I responded as 1,966,254 of my brain cells fizzled to a combustible pulp in a single second. Dave informed me that my face was turning unusually red.

“Do you have any questions?” asked the landlord from the other room, swiffing his Swiffer.

“Can I paint it?” I asked.

“That depends. I don’t want you painting the walls some obnoxious color, like black. Just give me a color and I’ll tell you if you can paint it.”

I suggested yellow as the most inoffensive color I could produce without a functioning cerebellum, and permission to paint was granted.

“Yellow,” he said thoughtfully. “I actually like yellow. That’s nice.”

The kitchen was green and yellow, with appliances that were older than my parents. I glanced at the stove, missing two spiral burners on the range.

“Does the stove work?” I asked.

He told us it did, and to prove it, he set his Swiffer against the counter and turned on the gas. I cringed, expecting the volatile apartment air to ignite. Luckily, it did not.

The landlord showed us the inside of the refrigerator, which seemed to have yellowed with age like a fine artisan cheese.

Dave and I thanked the landlord and took the forms for the apartment to the car. We drove around the area, admiring the parks, the ponds, and the proliferation of Dunkin Donuts establishments. There was a nice indie movie theater and a university, but otherwise the area was rather barren.

We talked ourselves into the apartment, which was pretty reasonable for our price range.
Just as we came to a conclusion, Dave’s phone rang and the landlady of a studio apartment invited us for a viewing.

Perhaps I was still loopy from the first tour, but the second apartment seemed great even though it was in the basement of somebody’s house. Perhaps it was the neutral aroma in the air, or the owner’s furniture filling the rooms, but I actually could imagine this apartment sustaining life. Little ceramic mushrooms decorated the fully-functional stove.

The couple that lived there had a closet full of board games and a hallway stacked with DVDs and CDs. Dave and the owner bonded over a board game. In the end, we were chosen to be the lucky tenants because of Dave’s good taste in obscure board games.

I imagined someone viewing the first apartment, chatting ecstatically with the landlord about the superiority of the Swiffer and discussing educational television. Somewhere out there is the ideal tenant for that place, too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Spoonful of Neutrons

I know a precocious young boy with an IQ of bazillion. One day he walked up to me at my retail job and said, "Let me guess: this is your holiday job. You graduated from college and you work here?"

I recently spent a long, intimidating ride home eating ice cream with this young fellow. As usual, he made me question the value of my college education as I stuttered out answers to his questions with my palms sweating profusely. After spewing out a mouthful of scientific trivia, he said, "It's amazing what you can learn on Yahoo, isn't it?"

At one point we argued fiercely about whether zombies would be considered human and attempted to draw parallels between cells and viruses. We discussed the probability of the apocalypse in 2012 and whether the local drive-in movie theater would bother tacking up a “Closed Forever” sign in the event of such a global catastrophe occurring at the end of the season.

He asked me many questions, some with familiar answers, others which merely baffled me.

Do you know how much a spoonful of neutrons would weigh on Earth?

Do you understand how the Mayan calendar works?

Do you know any “yo mama” jokes?

Did you know that a virus isn’t a living cell?

In fact, I did know that a virus isn’t a living cell, thank you very much. So that is one point for me against an elementary school child. You think you can beat me at this game? There must have been at least one biology class that I did not spend drawing cartoons of myself sleeping.

The really shameful thing is that I don't know any yo mama jokes off the top of my head. Not even one.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cell Phone Pictures

My mother is having a difficult time with her new cell phone. The keyboard makes too much noise, texting quickly is complicated with the buttons in different places, and the icons have moved around only to spite her. She covets my antiquated phone of yore in all of its low-battery glory. She wants to trade her sparkling new phone for my elderly one.

Will lose all my pictures in the process of switching? Just in case, here are a few masterpieces worth preserving, save some snapshots of pointy men’s shoes and expensive upholstery fabrics. I’ll also spare you the site of me waking up from my wisdom teeth surgery, still high on laughing gas with gauze bulging from my tingling lips.

The Lunchables of the Jewish community, now available at your local Italian grocer. I will eat it in a box and I will eat it with a fox.
Inspiration for a fan fiction I would like to write.
This is the commemorative cookie cake of my senior year of college. It tasted like yellow dye and accomplishment.
Speaking of hairy dogs, Rene Magritte and I have the same taste. (Pomeranians are delicious.)
A frisky Native American in front of my grandfather's grave. Perhaps someday I, too, will be inhumed behind his enormous erection.

One day in the land of my ancestors (Whitehall) I found the grave of my great great great great great great great great grandfather, a general in the Revolutionary War, on a secluded hill. It was sort of obscured by a bush.
Perhaps my great great great great great great great great grandfather would look like this debonair actor from the Last of the Mohicans in casual attire.
This assesses the damage done to my bike after I ran over a bottle of Gatorade, fell onto the blacktop, and nearly got flattened by a car full of old people.
Golf outfits are just as silly now as they were one hundred years ago.