21
Jun

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.

Anyway.

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.

Awesome.

15
Jun

Hell froze over a few months ago when my father decided to start texting. Though millions of people around the world have been texting, Tweeting, Facebooking and Skyping at each other for years, my dad doesn’t even have an email account. He trusts only three modes of communication: snail mail, the telephone, as in the kind that’s plugged into a wall, and talking to someone face-to-face.

A simple man with simple tastes.

However, my sister and I did manage to convince him a few years back that it was time to get a cell phone. He warily gave in, but as it turns out, now calls more often from his cell than landline. As he puts it, “Well, I got over 800 units on this thing that I need to use by next March, and I don’t talk to anyone but you and your sister.” However, his tolerance of cell phones is fairly limited to just his own.

My sister is notorious for not ever picking up the phone, regardless of whether it’s her cell or houseline. Because she is just as notorious for being a homebody, I can’t count the number of times I’ve left her a message that goes a little something like this: “Mila? Hey! Are you there? Mila? Mi-la. I know you’re there… Are you not there? Okay, I just wanted to…” That’s when puts me out of my misery and finally picks up the damn phone. But whenever I’m with my father and he tries to call my sister, I can see the cartoon-like smoke coming out of his ears when it goes to voicemail, which it always does. I think he finds it insulting that my sister won’t pick up even for him, although she can’t know it’s him until he leaves her a message. (My sister may or may not have caller ID. Regardless, I’d bet good money that she never cares to check it. She’s fairly unprejudiced like that.)

My father gets just as angry with me whenever we’re on the phone and the call drops. Inevitably, it is my fault. When I call him back, I am usually greeted with a “what was that all about?” I then apologize for my inferior iPhone capabilities, to which he replies, “My phone never drops calls.”

Given our family’s cell phone dramatics, I suppose I shouldn’t have been that surprised when my dad made the leap to text messaging. However, it felt like I had witnessed a fish walk onto land, sprout wings, and fly into the air; a few evolutionary steps had been skipped. My dad still doesn’t own a computer. Yet one day he happened to mention being bored, which I guess is normal when you’re retired. An hour later I was the recipient of his very first text message.

He’s been a texting machine ever since.

We still chat about the same subjects – sports and the weather – except now I get little notes from him ala “I’m about to watch the Cubs lose their eighth in a row” or “I hear there’s a storm coming through, so be careful.” While I appreciate these updates, I’m beginning to feel a bit slighted by my father. Is there a reason why he can’t pick up the phone every once in a while to say hello?

Granted, my dad still worries that I’m somehow accruing additional cell phone charges if we’re on the line for more than ten minutes. We’ll be in the middle of a conversation when all of a sudden I hear him say, “Well, I don’t wanna use up all your minutes.” Though I have told him multiple times that my phone plan allows me to talk to him whenever I want, he still deems it necessary to wrap up our chat fairly quickly, which leads me to believe a different theory as to why my father no longer wants to speak to his baby daughter.

I can talk a lot.

Though in the past I’ve said that my dad and I share great communication skills, in retrospect I’m realizing that perhaps we’ve been having rather one-sided conversations. Because he’s my dad, I feel comfortable espousing my views to him on pretty much anything and everything. While I may feel remorseful when making my friends suffer through one of my tangents, I don’t feel those pangs of guilt with my father. After all, he’s my dad. Isn’t it his job to put up with me? No questions asked? Which, by the way, is exactly what happens. I don’t give him the chance to ask questions even if he wanted to, but the moment I take a breath before resuming my tirade, that’s when I hear, “Well, I don’t wanna use up all your minutes.”

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I will be calling you on Sunday whether you like it or not.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

07
Jun

I get distracted very easily. If I’m in a public setting like an airport or restaurant, forget it. I have no chance of carrying on a conversation without ignoring my friend at least once to stare at and judge somebody. Perhaps it’s the PDA couple that finds nothing wrong with a little over-the-clothing action while waiting to board our plane. Or it might be the grandpa who refuses to cover his mouth while hacking up a lung and then hands back his contaminated menu that will be touched by twenty-five more people before the day is up.

I have solid reasons for judging others.

Trying to work in a public place is even worse. Everything annoys me. I’m sitting under a draft. My chair is squeaky. The ice in my chai is melting too quickly. Not to mention that everyone is talking way too loudly. I mean, really, why should I leave the comfort of my home and pajamas to sit in a crowded café and be forced to listen to whatever CD they’re trying to hawk? That said, sometimes you need a change of pace. Or you need to get out of the house because your bed is looking awfully cozy for a nap right about now…

I heard them before I saw them: four young women who weren’t chatting together so much as yelling over each other, and of course they decided to sit at the table directly next to me. Normally, this would have been my cue to either move or leave, but something stopped me. I think it might have been the one friend telling another, “Why don’t you drag your chair a little more loudly, okay?” Dang, what a b*tch.

I was intrigued.

One of the girls didn’t even wait to sit down before she launched into a longwinded story about some guy who never called her back and should she call him but what if he blows her off again and she doesn’t want to look like an idiot but she really likes him and thought they maybe had something… To which the bossy friend replied, “Can you please keep it down? You’re being so dramatic.” Hmm, I liked this girl.

That’s when another went off on some rant about how expensive her classes were, which completely shocked me because I had assumed these chicks were still in high school. Not only did they look young, but they acted like it as well. My jaw dropped even lower when one of them mentioned applying to medical school. Then she began to loudly discuss how she couldn’t afford her $17,000 per semester tuition because her parents had just filed for bankruptcy. Why exactly had her parents gone broke? Because her bipolar mother had been handling their financial records and screwed up a few tax returns, so now the IRS was coming after them. Wow.

First of all, who are these people that feel the need to publicly share their extremely personal problems? This chick was talking so loudly that I guarantee the barista on the other side of the café could hear her over the cappuccino maker. I blame reality TV. If the Kardashian sisters can give each other anal waxings on national television, then no wonder this girl thought that airing her dirty laundry was no big deal. Secondly, that sucks. I can’t imagine having to contend with those problems while trying to go to school. Apparently the other girls couldn’t imagine it either because instead of consoling their friend over her mentally imbalanced mother or legal entanglements with the government, they called her out as a liar. “That’s so not true! You are not paying seventeen grand a semester!” Broke girl then went on the defensive, insisting that she absolutely was shelling out that much money for school. Two of the friends vehemently shook their heads no. The third offered up this sage advice: “If you’re paying $17,000 per semester, then you are stupid. Either you don’t know what you’re talking about, or the school is scamming you. None of us are paying that much.” The two who had been shaking their heads immediately nodded them in agreement. Then came an awkward pause in the conversation. It was the first time their table had been quiet in an hour.

Eventually their chat shifted to the usual topics: boys and clothes. In both cases each of the girls took turns berating the others about their bad taste in men, fashion or both. Though pretending to be hard at work, I was secretly glued to every single thing they said. It was like watching a National Geographic special about rival lion tribes or something equally violent only way better. Finally, bossy girl ordered her friends to finish their drinks because she had to get back to studying. Quickly slurping down the remainder of their Frappuccinos, the other three got up and proceeded to shove their chairs back into place. Gathering their belongings and heading toward the door, I strained to hear any final bits of conversation.

“Do you have to be so freakin’ loud with that stupid chair?”

I knew I wouldn’t be left disappointed.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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