Friday, February 9, 2007

Aunty Christ and the great shame

I’m kind of confused by this. On the one hand, it seems like a great job. Well, I guess that’s it, really. I don’t mind being called “Not Again,” again, so I guess I’ll apply. And move to Tokyo. You know, whatever.

I am thinking of moving, actually. Not to Tokyo, but into a different apartment. I’ve calmed down about the situation, but still, now that I’ve started thinking about moving, it seems like I might as well. The hard part’s done, essentially. Now all I need to do is pack and carry boxes and rent a truck and find a new place to live.

The whole mess started last week—although really, actually, the whole mess started, now that I think of it, when I moved into my apartment. The man who showed it to me, the owner of the complex, was a tall, bearded man with grey-streaked hair, gentle in his mannerisms and very precise in his dress: Wool watchman’s cap, belted and possibly ironed jeans, tucked in, crisp button-down shirt. I liked him immediately. He didn’t mind that I had dogs, or that I didn’t have a job. He had taken time off to travel the world not too many years ago, himself. He wanted to talk to me about his experiences abroad. In fact, we ended up talking about his travels and my plans to the exclusion of anything regarding my new home—say, where the laundry room was, or how recycling works in this area. He gave me a few brief pointers about parking, took my deposit check, and went on his way, never to be heard from again.

(By which I probably mean that he has been doing other things at his own home, far away from this apartment building, and not that he has been killed and left in a meat freezer, though one never knows.)

The person who’s actually in charge of this building, like most apartment buildings, I suppose, is the building manager. In this case: Madonna, a gristly lump of a woman, with one multiply-pierced ear, a long rattail braid in her silver femullet, and a penchant for baseball caps, oversize shirts, and steel-toed footwear. In short, she is the living embodiment of the illustration in the neo-Nazi Children’s Coloring Book of Hate for the concept BULLDYKE. Her partner is the femme, I imagine, although if I’ve ever seen her, I did not realize it. She spent her young-womanhood in Alaska as a stripper (“dancer”), and now lives as a princess, being cared for, by all accounts, financially by stores of money which allowed her to buy a beach house, an RV, and (this week) a new Cadillac, and physically by the bearish Madonna, who dotes and preens like a new mother whenever she talks of her.

This is all fine and good. Coming from the middle of nowhere as I do, I am fascinated by anyone not clearly familiar to me as either an individual or a type. I’m rather sick of college-age pseudohippy divers with dreds and duct-tape patches on their Carhartts, and frankly I don’t care if I never see another sinewy woman in her 40s with a face like a catcher’s mitt, wearing head-to-toe Patagonia. But I’ve been around few true lesbians in the past six years, and for that reason they fascinate me. A few weeks ago, and for the same reason, I found myself enraptured by a group of rockabilly hipsters with Betty Page hairdos and dark-wash rolled-up jeans, while it was all Rich Bachelor could do to restrain himself from administering a beatdown for being so annoying. (To be fair, they were really annoying.) This is merely to say that perhaps I’ve been giving Madonna too much credit, preventing me from calling her on her increasingly odd, dramatic behavior.

First meeting: Confrontational. Madonna asks pointedly if I own the truck that’s parked “over there.” I look and see that she’s waving in the direction of the parking lot, next to which, on the grass of the common area, is parked a truck that is not mine. I tell her that my Jeep is indeed parked in the parking lot, but that other truck, which is parked in the lawn, is not mine. (A slight sneer may have crept onto my face unwillingly at this point, as if to indicate: What kind of wacko handjob would park their truck in such a fashion? Certainly not me….) Madonna tells me that I’ve parked in “someone’s” parking space (it turns out that “someone” = the privileged Mrs. Madonna, who has decided to park her truck in the grass since her spot was taken). I apologize, say I’ll move my car, and explain that I would not have parked where I did, except that the building owner had told me I could park anywhere I wanted, excluding one spot (not the one I had parked in). This isn’t good enough for Madonna. For some reason. The conversation should be over, I keep thinking—why isn’t it over yet?

Second meeting: Confusing. Madonna wants to replace my older, perfectly fine refrigerator with another older, perfectly fine refrigerator. Whatever. She shows off her beefy arms, sweats.

Third meeting: Confrontational, then jolly. Madonna wants me to climb into the Dumpster and fetch some cardboard boxes that someone has left. I peer into the bin. “They’re not mine?” I offer. “I can do it, though?” Ha ha. No. It is all a misunderstanding, based on the fact that she thinks I’m an idiot.

And on and on. Every time I see her, she’s telling me something I don’t want to know, or asking if she can come over and fix something that doesn’t need repair. And not in a skeevy way, either. She’s totally not hitting on me. She’s simply annoying.

Last week, I saw her in the courtyard in front of the apartment buildings, and, as is her wont, she called me over.

“Aunty, I’m glad I caught you. I was talking to one of the other tenants the other day, and, well, do you have a shower curtain in the bathroom—you know, next to the window?”

The window is a (heavily, I thought) frosted-glass window inside the shower. I did not have a shower curtain, firstly because I assumed I did not need one because in my experience the frosted pane is enough of a barrier to prevent others from seeing inside, and secondly because there was no shower curtain rod on that side, which I presumed validated my first assumption.

Madonna kindly offered a shower curtain and curtain rod, stolen from the elderly man who had recently moved out of his smoke-choked apartment a few doors down. As she installed it, I finally broke through my extreme embarrassment to say, “As long as people are making stupid complaints about other people, I guess I should let you know that _________’s [my neighbor’s] screen door is broken, and when it’s windy out it bangs around and upsets the dogs.”

It was a stupid complaint—one I otherwise would have made directly to my neighbor. But really. What else did I have? It was terribly embarrassing to be told that, after three months of showers, your neighbors can see you wash your bits. That’s 90 opportunities to see me naked—a total of, probably, 900 naked minutes. Just mortifying. Brain damaging. Soul damaging. Ugh.

So, I’ve been walking around for the last few days, thinking of moving to a new apartment complex perhaps—one where no one’s seen me shower. Yesterday I ran into Madonna again, as she was fixing my neighbor’s bangy door. “I fixed it!” she said proudly. (She had told me she couldn’t—but that’s another story, and frankly, it’s one that I don’t know anything about.) “Hey, you know the other day with the shower curtain and all that? Well, it’s funny because you said, ‘As long as other people are complaining.’ I just wanted to let you know: They weren’t complaining.” And she kind of leered at me, or smiled, maybe, as if to say: I’m so happy I could clear that up for you.

Now we’ve got a bad situation that’s suddenly become a lot worse. I just have to figure out who the “someone” is, transform him/her into a stag, and let loose the hunting dogs. Or perhaps I should just move somewhere where the building manager is less of a drama queen.


Snooze said...

My therapist would have to move in with me if I discovered that some random neighbour had been watching me shower. However, as I have neither curtains nor frosted glass on my bathroom window, it's likely that some neighbour has had the horror show already.

Aunty Christ said...

"Horror show"--that's wonderful/awful. I imagine, of course, that, like me, you would get comments rather than complaints. However, one must consider the source of said comments, and that, quite frankly, is what disgusts me.