Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Our oven hasn't been working ever since we moved into the apartment. Our landlord, Bill, has tried diligently to get the repair guys to come, but when they do, they mess around with all the dials and tubes and wires, but they don't actually fix it. Apparently this is due to union regulations, I don't know. So Bill has been trudging to our apartment sporadically to let the repair guy in and watch him fiddle with knobs, or, alternatively, wait for the repair guy to come and then get stood up by him. It's a system that works for everyone. (Although Bill did give us an awesome gift certificate to a great restaurant to make up for it, so I'm a happy camper. Plus, the only thing I need the oven for, really, is storage space.)

So last night I was in the bathroom, perusing the latest issue of Newsweek as ... you know. Right. So the intercom buzzes, and I assume it's just someone trying to get into the building, as I don't expect any visitors. (Do you see where this is going?) I continue reading an especially incisive column by Jonathan Alter when there is knock on the door. I decide to ignore it, considering I am indisposed. Then I hear Bill's voice outside and the rustle of keys. All the blood in my body hurtles to my face. Uh oh. "One minute!" I croak.

No response, and now I hear the telltale jingling of keys. The front door opens. I hastily throw the Newsweek aside. "One second!" I yell. "One second!" Shit! Shit! My body goes through a million different kinds of stress as I ... make myself presentable. Hands dripping from the sink, the magazine stuffed behind the toilet, I walk out and open the front door. There's Bill and the repair guy, Russell. "I'm sorry, you caught me in the restroom!" I say as jovially as possible. I shake hands with the men and give them a look that says: please believe that my hands aren't wet because I peed on them.

They come in and Russell goes to town twiddling with the oven. He ventured into it from the top down, dismantling the stove and then working his way in. Other neighbors pass by the open door, and Bill offers a few choice tidbits about them. The nice people who live across from me are Scientologists. So don't go to them for advil. And Bill himself has been playing piano in a jazz band for 40 years, and they play every Monday night at a bar around the corner.

After they had all left, and the oven seemed to be working, I returned to the bathroom so that my intestinal tract could try to make some sense out of the extreme psychological trauma it had been through. But as I reflected in my favorite room of the apartment, I thought: you know, this is why you love where you live - a landlord who is a regularly performing musician and scientologists across the hall. Unbelievable.

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