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.