I love where I live. Frat boy neighbors aside, I’m pretty content.
In the five or so years at my apartment, I’ve come to an understanding of sorts with my landlord. Super nice guy, just a little too much at times. Back in the day, it wasn’t unusual to get a knock on my door at 11pm with him smiling on the other side of the screen, a bowl of some vegetarian concoction steaming in his hands. Though I desperately wanted to appreciate this thoughtful gesture, it weirded me out. He did this a half-dozen or so times. Finally, I refused his culinary advances on account that I was tired of secretly taking his untouched meals to work where I would promptly throw them away. I was way too paranoid to put them in my own garbage; after all, he puts out the trash containers every week. Also, while I wasn’t so paranoid as to think that he was putting something sketchy in my meals, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat something that was given to me unsolicited. That’s reasonable, right?
After two or three years of having my very own meal delivery service, he finally got the hint. Since then his attempts to feed me have been limited to platters of Trader Joe’s baklava on the major Orthodox holidays. Given that I love me some baklava – and that each platter comes sealed shut in a handy dandy plastic wrapper – I don’t mind this token of generosity. For my part, I make sure to put a smiley face on each check he gets every month.
To be clear, my landlord is not an icky creep. He just doesn’t understand the whole personal space thing. Since he owns the property in which I live, I get it. From his point of view, he’s not intruding because my apartment belongs to him. Plus, I’m a little weird myself. Perhaps more than most, I love my space and alone time. Don’t call me… I’ll call you.
Because my landlord lives on the premises, we have the occasional run-in. It’s usually when I’m removing my delicates from the washer and he scares the bejeezus out of me by walking past the laundry room and saying hi. As a matter of fact, this happened just the other day. Each time he surprises me, he then feels the need to apologize profusely for it. Yet during our most recent interlude, I realized something: my landlord was clearly wearing pants about ten sizes too big for him. That’s when it dawned on me that he must have dropped a good hundred pounds over the last several months. How I did not notice this before, I don’t know. I can be oblivious at times. However, not oblivious was that he was now drowning in his oversized clothing. I had to ask…
“Did you lose weight?”
Always tricky to broach the topic of weight, but more often than not it’s due to hypersensitive women who think you’re paying them a passive-aggressive compliment when you thought it was a nice-nice compliment. Regardless, I instantly regretted that I had said anything at all. It felt utterly and completely weird the moment the words left my mouth. Asking about one’s weight is a fairly personal matter, and I absolutely had no interest in getting personal with my landlord. But it was too late. You can’t unring a bell.
He was more than willing to tell me about why he lost the weight (his doctor wanted $3000 to put him on a diet, but he said no way), what he now eats (only steamed vegetables and broiled fish), how he’s been exercising (walking but wants to start running), and that he knows he’s wearing ridiculously big pants (but doesn’t want to throw them away). While I was truly happy for him, I was also dying to get out of there. Whenever someone talks about losing weight, you’re pretty much obligated to say, “You look great!” Otherwise, you’re a jackass. It’s like asking, “How are you?” when you greet someone. Odds are you have no real interest in knowing how they’re doing, but it’s something you say. The person to whom you’re speaking usually understands this rule of etiquette – unless they don’t. There’s nothing worse than asking someone how they’re doing and having to suffer through an honest answer.
I have no problem telling my girlfriends that they look hot. On occasion I’ll even make a point of complimenting a male friend’s attire or haircut. However, telling my landlord that he looked good felt all kinds of wrong. But what was I to do? You have to say it, right? Plus, he was obviously so proud of himself.
So as I have done many times with him, I embraced the awkwardness and sputtered, “You look g-awesome.” At the final second, I figured “awesome” was a decidedly less sexualizing term than good or great. Still, I could feel my face burning with embarrassment. I then booked it outta there without looking back.
I also forgot my bras in the washer.