Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
There's a person in Harvard Square playing a muzak version of "The Day The Music Died". I think it's meta commentary on his own ability.
11:00 AM: A compatriot offers me a ride to The House Of No Gravity, which is being shown by The Realtor With No Memory (who, for brevity's sake, we will call Ace). Or, it would be, but they have double booked, so a different realtor is going to show me the house.
***a giant statue in front of a Buddhist temple mocks the trip to Clam Point, there are no clams on the street, no point to this journey***
11:20 AM: Ace's spouse/business partner shows up. The apartment doesn't match the photos. The "giant living room" is the size of a travel box of Ritz crackers. The carpet has pulled a great deal of its hair out. Every wall and cabinet face has started to peel away. If two people enter the dining "room" at the same time, the walls will burst and the window will shatter. There are no knobs or handles on the solitary closet door. The door to the murder basement is locked. The apartment is a five minute walk to the T, but it's only forty yards from the commuter rail track, which sounds like it coming through the bedroom. The back "porch" is missing a railing and a step. Someone was definitely murdered in that bathroom, and I wouldn't have taken the time to clean it up, either. I thank Ace's business partner, and text Ace that I'm not interested.
***I wish there hadn't been gravity there, so I wouldn't remember how that carpet felt Through My Shoes.***
11:30: I get a ride to Fields Corner. Y'all, someone needs to start a GoFundMe for Fields Corner. The stairs are, literally, crumbling. At least they match the walls? None of the people waiting for the T made me fear for my life, but I could absolutely see that entire station being swallowed in a sinkhole.
11:45: Ace has found a place near Shawmut, and I am on the train going the other way, but I get off at Andrew, and head back. I finally meet Ace, and we enter what is a one bedroom apartment that is more expensive than I'd pay for a two bedroom apartment. And it smells like someone peed on the wall. Not a cat or a dog. A person. Once again, Ace had told me a place was renovated when it clearly hadn't been murd---I'm sorry renovated, why would I think someone had been murdered, there, too? It clearly hadn't been renovated since the previous tenant/serial killer moved in in 1981.
***At least the bloodstained carpet matched the curtains?***
12:15: I eat lunch, and get a text from a different realtor who wants me to meet them on Dorchester Ave at 3. They seem nice.
***I hate nice people.***
12:45: Ace has a place in Everett. Everett is not a real place. There are no trains there. How does a city exist without trains?
1:00: Ace has a place by JFK, but only if I can get there soon. I grab a Lyft. I arrive on time. The place is not actually available. I consider banishing Ace to the dimension of Failed Realtors. But they're very nice.
***I hate nice people. Choo-choo.***
2:00: I am already in JFK, so I wander around the area checking out the bars, restaurants, convenience stores, laundromats, and various businesses. I decide the nice realtor who is not Ace will be called Mel.
***There is no house at the street address Mel gave me, but I hover in the space where the apartment should be, in hopes it will eventually appear.***
2:30: Ace messages me about a house in Quincy. The landlord sounds like a dick before I even meet him. I can hear him pounding his feeble chest and slinging poo through the way Ace asks me various questions about my job and income that were not a factor for any other apartment. He wants us to meet at 4:30. I am certain he will not be there.
***I will him to not be there.***
2:40: Ace messages me about meeting at another apartment near JFK. I tell them we can meet at 4. They will then give me a ride to the 4:30 appointment in Quincy.
***The Quincy apartment is a block away from where I lived with the Millerz family on-and-off between 1999 and 2010. I've missed the neighborhood, and wouldn't mind being back there.***
2:55: Ace calls me to let me know they will be late. It is 2:55. We are supposed to meet at 4. I tell them I will wait for them at 4. They sound disappointed.
2:58: Ace calls me to let me know that the 4:00 house is no longer available, but they'll meet me at 4:30 in Quincy. SHIT. The last call was not from Ace, it was from Mel, who I am supposed to meet at 3, but who I just told I couldn't meet until 4. I call Mel back, explain the error. Mel is already on their way back to the office but will U-turn to meet me at the address that I can't even find.
***Fucken Ace's scatterbrain is contagious. Choo-choo.***
3:15: Mel tells me that the apartment I can't find is above the liquor store I've been standing in front of for twenty minutes. They will be there soon.
***I don't need to live above a liquor store. I really don't need a roommate who will be excited to live above a liquor store. I am calling it a convenience store because it also has eggs, and juice, and soda, and candy. It's convenient that it contains nothing I currently need.***
3:20: My dad calls. My IRS refund came in. Our inheritance from my grandmother is still five months away. My passport is on the island. My social security card is on the island. A check from my last freelance job is on the island. Scotch is on the island, and my father is determined to drink all of it. We make plans to meet if I find an apartment I like.
3:40: Mel shows up. The apartment above the liquor store has been renovated Since the ad was placed. It's beautiful. It's two beds, a bath and a half (one shower and a toilet in one room, one toilet in another), the kitchen is modern and just tiled. Both bathrooms newly tiled. Hardwood floors gleaming. View...acceptable. Fire escape off the kitchen. Roof access. Closet space. Cats no problem. Landlord has already run background check. Credit check. Doesn't ask for references. I tell Mel I have at least once more apartment to see with Ace, but that I really like the apartment. Mel tells me that I am the first person to see that apartment, and there are no more appointments left for the rest of the day. The landlord is taking the keys. Won't be back until Monday.
***Sometimes I dance on the inside. Sometimes the outside, but this time just the inside.***
3:55: I order a Lyft to Quincy. The driver shows up. Back seat tarped over. Stench of vomit. Stain on the tarp. Cheap weed stink. Has GPS but asks me where Quincy is. Otherwise doesn't address me at any point. Becomes only the second ever Lyft driver I don't give five stars to.
4:15: I arrive in Quincy. I wander over to the formerly Millerz house. It is almost unrecognizable, apart from the location of the doors. The sun porch is now a room inside. The tree in the front yard is gone. The trash barrels are not pink.
**Ask me about the pink trash barrels next time I see you.***
4:25: Ace arrives. I am reading a book. Ace asks if I am Adam, even though we have seen each other twice today within five hours. They reinforce my negative opinion of the landlord. I say the price is pretty good for a 2 BR that allows cats so I'm still interested. Ace says "Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck." This is not going to be a pet friendly apartment. It is not a pet friendly apartment. The landlord doesn't show but a maintenance man lets us in. There is an altar in the front window. The maintenance man tells me that if you put money in the dish at the altar's feet, it will bring you good luck. Ace asks about pets. The maintenaince man says "No cats, no dogs, no snakes, no hamsters, no rats, no lizards, no crickets, no rabbits, no rocks. No pets. If we let one in, we have to let 'em all in. Not on my watch. I rebuilt this place after the last property manager destroyed it, let me tell you" a bunch of racist shit about Asian people. I am definitely not moving here. Ace mentions my cats. The guy says "No way, Jose." like I knew he would. Ace apologizes profusely to me. I am very nice about it. I must hate myself. I take my quarter back from the altar on my way out.
6:15PM: Back at the place I'm staying, I e-mail Mel about the apartment. They e-mail me back immediately saying no one else has seen it, but that they are busy, and can't get back to me again until late tonight.
I believe them.
Yesterday at 1 AM: sent out twenty e-mails to realtors and home owners in The Greater Boston Area.
Yesterday at 9AM: First e-mail response for house in Dorchester with laundry, recent renovations, and an affordable price. Wants to know more about me.
Yesterday at 9:30AM: Send response. Ask for viewing.
Yesterday at 10AM: Weird text from Dorchester house, making sure I know I would have to pay full rent. As though, somewhere in Boston is a landlord/realtor that takes partial rent, and the rest in M&Ms and lube stock. Casually mentions not having laundry.
Yesterday at 10:15AM: I mention that I'm disappointed that there's no laundry, since their ad mentions having laundry twice.
Yesterday at 10:17AM: Realtor asks for screenshots. I send them.
Yesterday at 10:30AM: Realtor sends me screenshots from their end, which is nearly identical, but specifically mentions No Laundry. I google laundromats near the house, am satisfied, request a time to look at the house.
Yesterday at 2:30PM: Realtor responds "Anyhoo" and suggests meeting at 11AM today. I accept.
This morning at 9AM: Realtor can't meet at 11AM. Can we reschedule for 11:30. I accept.
This morning at 9:30AM: Realtor can't meet at 11:30 but will send "someone" to meet me at the house "around 11:30". I agree, but only because they can't hear me grumbling at my phone.
This morning at 9:31AM: Realtor unsure anyone in our shared hemisphere can be at the house by 11:30. Maybe we can try this Sunday at 1pm?
This afternoon at 2PM: Realtor unsure house still exists. Posits that we may be in a pocket dimension where real estate doesn't exist. Is worried they've wasted their life. I agree.
This evening at 5:15PM: The house is back. It now has laundry but no bedrooms or gravity field, and is somehow in Winnepeg. Would that be too long a commute to Harvard Square?
This evening at 5:30PM: The house is gone again, but the laundry facilities are still there. In Winnepeg.
Tonight at 11:15PM: Realtor can't find their glasses. Is worried I didn't receive the last text. Sends a party of hedgehogs to track down my last known cell phone location. Realizes I am in a different pocket dimension. But also in Dorchester.
Tonight at 11:40PM: The hedgehogs massacre a troupe of Amway salespeople in Peabody Square. Lose all interest in hunting me down.
Tomorrow at 1:15AM: Realtor texts that gravity has returned to apartment, apartment has returned to Dorchester, laundry is still in Winnepeg, and now the bathrooms are in Tanzania. Is that inconvenient? And I have I seen their wallet? Or their toenail clippers?
Tomorrow at 1:17AM: I say that I am categorically uninterested in the apartment, and working with this particular realtor. This prompts seventeen unanswered texts asking what went wrong, escalating from apologies for the inaccurate ad, to using hate speech to point out that nobody will ever love any of my descendants, either.
Tomorrow at 7:30AM: I wake up in the apartment I did not want. There is partial gravity. seventeen roommates, one quarter bathroom (a bucket and a melting glacier), and an altar to Cthulu in the middle of the possibly-living room. I am shown a twelve year lease agreement with my signature in blood. No pets. And a crudely drawn map to Tanzania, but no mention of Winnipeg.
Person 1: You can't just go around breaking things in Heaven, you'll get kicked out.
Person 2: But I love breaking things, and Heaven is supposed to be the place where you get to be happy and shit.
P1: Then you better hope there's a wrecking crew or something up there because you can't break other peoples' stuff in Heaven. It probably just puts itself together anyway.
P2: That would be some shit. I would hate that.
P1: See. Like I said. You're a bad person. I'll probably see you in my Heaven, but probably because it would be your Hell.
Random Loiterer: "Are you new?"
Me: "No, I've worked here for almost a decade."
RL: "I haven't seen you before. Where's the woman who works here?"
RL: "And the other guy?"
Me: "There are a few other guys, but the other guy who worked on Tuesdays was just covering for me for a while."
RL: "A while? I've been coming here for months."
Me: "I was gone for January and February."
RL: "Two months vacation? Must be nice."
Me: "I was in a coma."
RL: "Oh. Uh. Sorry."
Buckle up. It's Monday.
Random Stoner: "Hey. Alright. I came in because I'm ready to talk about that movie."
RS: "You know, there's all that...talk about it this weekend. And, like, it was supposed to be big."
Ah, Captain Marvel.
Me: "I haven't seen it yet."
RS: "No. Noooooooo. I came in to talk to you about it."
I've never met this person before.
Me: "Sorry, I'm seeing it later this week."
RS: "But, it was good, right?"
Me: "I don't know yet."
RS: "Oh, man. I -- Do you have any, like giant -- You guys don't have giant books."
Me: "Like the ones on the top shelf there?"
I point. He walks in the opposite direction. Of course.
Me: "No, there."
RS: "Wow. Wowwwwwwwwwwwwww. These are -- what I'm looking for are coffee table books. Motorcycles. Sketch art. You know, for the foyer...or, the, ummmm gazebo? Parlor. For the parlor.
Me: "Sure. We don't have those."
RS: "I need people to walk in when I'm painting and be like wowwwwwwwwwww. This --- this is some --- like A level shit, you know?"
RS: "But you don't --- You seriously haven't seen that movie yet?"
RS: "It's fine. I shouldn't be spending money anyway. I have to --- I need to -- do they do laser printing across the hall?"
Me: "You'd have to ask them. I don't know."
RS: "What I'm gonna do, right? Before my show. I'm gonna have shit lasered into wood. Like a table with good wood, but I'd laser it --- like SPACE. I have 47 --- no 59 paintings I need to unload, you know? Renewal. Like when those anime guys take all of their stuff and --- Do you have any gundam?"
Me: "Not currently."
RS: "Shit. Hey, when did the weed store go? I mean --- not a weed store -- a paraphernalia store."
Me: "It's still there. It's across the park."
RS: "I shouldn't be spending -- Hey, instagram --- like marketing --- I could get you 20%." of what I have no idea.
Me: "Great. You should come in on Friday and talk to the owner."
RS: "Yes! Like I did for the collectible store in Methuen. 20%. I'm not a monster."
Me: "That's good."
RS: "You get my vibe. Social media -- it's -- like 10% for you but maybe you have a friend who can help, and they get 10%, that's TWENTY PERCENT."
RS: "Check out my Instagram. I need honest critique. Like, it's time -- my parents know I'm not like that -- but, like, I need to get rid of these paintings. Even if it's just 100,000. Which is -- which is 10% of what they're worth. You feel me?"
RS: "Let me write down -- what's my insta -- I think -- here. I should go. Do you think they really laser across the hall?"
Me: "I have no idea."
RS: "I'm a mech guy. Captain Ha -- He -- you know."
RS: "I'm not like manga. A little, I guess. But, like -- They need to make a Captain Marvel game. Open world like Tarantino, you know? Or Portal. Yea, Portal. How come there aren't any VR arcades around here where you can walk" he shows me what walking looks like "while you're in the virtual world? All they have around here is pinball."
Me: "I don't know."
RS: "They could make bank on that."
RS: "Friday. You should get people to BOGO. Like, not BOGO, but make people think they're getting a deal. You watch Big Bang Theory?"
RS: "You should youtube the gaffs. It will make you. You get people who smell the comics?"
Me: "No." Ok, a couple of times, but I'm not going to talk about them with this guy.
RS: "It's always wrong but -- how late is the paraphernalia shop open?"
Me: "I have no idea."
RS: "Marketing is key. You get it. You got it. I'm gonna go laser."
Me: "Good luck."
He walks across the hall. I think the entire staff has gathered around him. So he must be equally entertaining there.
His instagram is locked. His follower to following ratio is 1/100. I will not be following him. And, thus, shall never know of his million dollar paintings.
Ten minutes before close, Annoying Painter Who Did Too Many Drugs In The 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s comes in. Already in the store is someone who has been asking me about comics in the warehouse for at least four years. I am certain neither of them will ever leave.
Annoying Painter: "Is Tony--"
Me: "I told you yesterday to come in on Friday. I wrote it down. I told you to put it in your wallet. Friday is the day to come in and talk to him. Only Friday."
AP: "Are you--"
Me: "I can't price things, buy things, evaluate things, tell you what he's looking for, or tell you what's in the warehouse. YOU. HAVE. TO. COME. IN. ON. FRIDAYS."
And then my boss walks in with boxes of stuff to put away.
Tony: "Hi. I have to bring in a bunch of boxes. I don't have time to talk to you right now. Try coming in on Friday."
AP: "Of course, of course. You're busy. But I have these old comics, and I don't want them. But I think they're valuable, could you --"
Tony: "I have five more boxes to bring in. You should come in on Friday."
He leaves to get more boxes. I start putting away some of the books from the boxes he's already brought in."
AP: "I think Mad should do something with Trump because Alfred E. Neum--"
Me: "They have." I grab the Mad About Trump book. "We've talked about it before. Have a look again."
AP: "Did you know Stan Lee died."
AP: "Did Kirby write for Mad Magazine? Is Kirby even an artist?"
Me: "Not that I know of, and yes."
Me: "I'm sorry. I have to put all these things away, right now. Could you come back on Friday?"
Tony arrives with more boxes.
AP: "So some of the comics I brought in are pretty rare."
Tony: "You said that. I'll be right back."
AP: "How much do you thi--"
Me: "I don't do pricing or evaluating."
AP: "Got ya. Because he's the boss."
Me: "Sure. Just so you know, we are closed right now."
And to my eternal shock, the usually super annoying What Do You Have In The Warehouse Guy comes up to the counter.
WDYHITWG: "Sorry, I forgot you guys closed earlier now. I'll buy these."
And he actually buys two comics. And leaves.
While I ring in his sale, Tony comes in with the last of the boxes, and starts to put them on the shelves.
AP: "How much do you guys give for these books? Thirty percent of resale? Forty? Half?"
AP: "If you want to take a look at them, they're pretty exciting."
Tony: "Could you bring them in on Friday. I'm not really supposed to be here tonight, I'm just dropping off these boxes, and then I have to go home and read with my son."
AP: "Of course. Of course. No rush man. I've been to California before. Aren't you from there?"
Tony: "Yea, I'm from LA."
AP: "Do you remember...." And here begins a ten minute conversation about dead people from California. High schools in California. Venues from California that closed decades ago. California. California. Califuckenfornia. And nothing about how it knows how to party, or why Jonathan Coulton hates it.
Tony: "Well, it's great talking to you." Liar. "But I have to go home. And Adam has to close out and go home, and I'm in his way."
AP: "Of course, of course. Hey, do you have some time to look at these comics before you go?"
At this point, I would have decided not to buy anything from him, or totally lowball whatever crap he has. This guy has wasted hours of my time, usually talking about how much he hates comics, and what a waste of time they are. And how everyone steals from him, yadda yadda. And I think, if people do steal from him, maybe it's in the hopes he will be so mad that he'll never bother them again. Because Fuck This Guy.
But Tony looks at the comics, finds four he's interested in, and gives the guy thirty bucks.
Tony: "But now I have to go. And I can't go until you go."
AP: "What about the rest of the books? I don't want them."
Tony: "Bring them Friday."
AP: "Yea, you're the owner. You only have to come in once a week."
Tony: "I'm in other days, but I'll be busy. Bring the books in on Friday."
AP: "Could you write that down for me?"
Me: "NO. It's in your wallet already. I gave it to you last night."
AP: "I lost it."
Tony writes it down.
AP: "Hey, when you were in California, did you ever go to---"
Tony: "I really have to go. It's been great talking to you." Liar. "But you'll have to come back on Friday. I need to get home."
AP: "Sure. Sure. It's very New England. Having to go home."
He walks into the hallway. Tony and I exchange a look. AP picks up one of the boxes we use for shipping.
Me: "Hey. Those are not free. Or for customers. Those are our shipping boxes."
AP: "You need all these?"
Me: "We do. We do a lot of shipping." Liar. "Please don't take our boxes."
AP: "They're a perfect fit for my paintings."
Me: "Then you should get them from the Post Office. But we need those."
AP: "Of course. I would never take them without asking." Liar. "Do you have anything I could put paintings in?"
AP: "I used to do a lot of concert posters. There's this website--"
Tony: "It's time to go. it's been great talking to you." Liar. "We have to close."
AP: "Right. Right. Have you ever seen the Jimi Hendrix poster? The famous one."
I go into the bathroom. Not because I need to use it, but to get away from him. I immediately turn on the hand dryer. When I come out, he is gone.
Tony leaves. I am ten minutes into closing when there's a knock on the window. I see that it's AP. I get up, walk out the door, and sit in the hallway and play on my phone for five minutes. When I come back within sight-lines, he is gone.
How much do you want to bet he'll be back in tomorrow, asking if Tony is in? Or if I can price his books?
My favorite loiterer of the day to her insufferable friend, who was wandering around ranting about "his vampire novel":
"Maybe before you start worrying about the fan base for your series of vampire novels, you should, I don't know, actually sit down and write at least a few pages of your first vampire novel. Or, like, anything. It's tough to get an audience before you've produced the product."
My Dad: Want to watch this documentary about the Alamo?
Me: No, thanks. I've already seen Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.
Random Bullshitter to a person of another gender: "This is their noir section. They organize things by genre."
Me: "Nope. That's our European section. Books written and/or drawn by Europeans. There are also some South American creators on the third shelf."
RB: "I'm pretty sure it's all your noir stuff."
RB's Victim: "Are you seriously arguing with the person who works here about how their store is organized? Do you ever stop?"
RB: "That's it. I'm done. I have reached my limit. Goodbye."
And then I and the person who remained had a lovely conversation about which European comics she might enjoy.