Dave started calling real estate agents and on Memorial Day we took a drive to visit one at her office. We arrived first and sat down at the desk. She burst through the door of her office in an American flag T-shirt and introduced herself as Elaine. She shook my hand and held onto it for a long time. Elaine stared at me intently through her darkly shaded sunglasses.
“Oh my god. Do you know who you look like?” Elaine asked. “You know, that girl that everyone says you look like.”
I shrugged. I supposed she was probably thinking of Cindy Lou Who or the flying nun.
“You know who I mean. Come on. That cute little country singer girl,” she prompted, waving her hands.
Clearly we would not be seeing any apartments at all until I produced the name of a cute little country singer.
“Taylor Swift?” I guessed, wincing. The last time I saw my sister she spent hours trying to Swift-ify my hair. I don't want to talk about it.
“YES. You look just like Taylor Swift. Don’t people tell you that all the time?”
“No,” I said.
Dave and Elaine began discussing apartments, but she was quickly reminded of a con man who had been plaguing her all month long. He called her house phone addressing her as a senior citizen and told her that she had won a brand new car. All she had to do was pay the taxes on it and he would deliver it to her house.
She played along and said that she couldn’t possibly take the car today because she was recovering from hip replacement surgery. The next day he called her back. And the next day.
“Can you believe that this man calls poor senior citizens and takes advantage of them like that? He’s conned more than four hundred senior citizens in this area. You’d think the law would step in, but I called the sheriff myself and do you know what he said? He said that he’d been trailing this guy for weeks and he knew exactly where the con man is: he's sitting pretty in a big house in Jamaica, but there’s nothing they can do. The United States police can’t reach him there.”
Then she turned to me.
“Do you sing?” she asked. I shook my head. “What about dancing? No? Acting?”
“No, I’m a writer,” I said.
“You know what? You should enter a Taylor Swift lookalike contest. Have you ever considered entering a Taylor Swift lookalike contest?”
I admitted that I had not.
“I think you’d really have a chance. You should think about that,” she said. “She is the sweetest girl. She’s just so genuine. I was watching this talk show the other day and Taylor Swift was the guest star. She was talking about how she was driving along in her car and she saw a girl with a Taylor Swift concert T-shirt walking down the street to a record store. So Taylor had her driver pull around and drop her off in front of the record store. She came up behind the girl and just tapped her on the shoulder and said, ‘Thank you. Thank you for being a fan.’”
After listening to more of Taylor Swift’s merits, we took a ride in Elaine's SUV and checked out some apartments. The first one was on the second floor, but somehow had a small, two-tiered yard reminiscent of the ruins of Machu Picchu.
“You could clean this up really nice and put a little patio table right here,” Elaine said.
Inside there was a slight paint odor. The floorboards were warped and lumpy due to the age of the building. I don’t recall there being a bathroom.
The next apartment was in some sort of British estate house that had been transplanted into New York. Elaine presented it as a train car-style apartment. You entered in the bedroom, walked through a door to the living area, and the kitchen was all the way in the back. It was very stupid.
Elaine drove us to the last apartment and we lingered outside of the building.
“I don’t know if you’re going to like this one, but we’ll take a quick look at it. Why not?” Elaine said. “But first I want you to meet some friends of mine…”
Elaine flung open the door to the hair salon on the first floor.
All of the hairdressers stopped foiling their clients and stared at me, nodding. I waved and scooted away from the door.
The last apartment we saw was occupied by an elderly Greek couple ready to move into their daughter’s house. We barged in just as the woman was frying some fragrant Greek food. They lived in the apartment for thirty-five years and it was actually quite nice. Everything was peach and frilly and smelled like food.
“I could imagine us living here,” Dave said.
I closed my eyes and imagined myself in the kitchen curing olives with the Greek woman. I imagined myself on the couch checking my emails as an old Greek man beside me watches reruns of Married with Children. It was impossible for me to imagine myself living in the apartment without the Greek couple cohabitating with us like the Greek grandparents I never had. But I didn't mind.