Monday, September 17, 2007
I am so spoiled.
When I was but a lad growing up in Highland Park, my younger brother once told me that if he was ever rich, the one thing he would always have would be socks.
"I would never go looking for socks," he said. Now as a successful adult, Im sure he has enough socks to miss innumerable wash cycles.
The point is that I never thought that growing up in a small house with six brothers and sisters, I would ever think of myself as privileged. Everything was valuable.
For the last year, I have been fortunate enough to live in a unique apartment with nearly every amenity I could ever consider. When I prepared for this trip, I showed it to a dozen applicants, some of whom I knew would never take it; others I would never sublet it to.
I took the same care in searching for an apartment in Montreal, and I thought I had found it. I was ready to pay what would be considered high rent for this city. The ad had sounded perfect, but then I was realized these nutty Quebequois were not speaking French to me, they were were speaking the far more confusing language--"real estate." The language where "cozy" means "squished," and "adjacent" means "nowhere near." "Character" means "shabby" and "negotiable" means "on their terms, not yours."
We drove though an industrial area with tagged buildings and I got nervous. "We're almost home,eh," my landlady said with some glee. I had visions of what I'd seen previously. The ad said, "We have what was formerly a 3 1/2 (one bedroom) which was converted into an open loft (approx. 700 sq/ft) Hardwood floors, high ceilings, microwave, laundry, nice courtyard with B.B.Q. Double bed. High-speed internet, linens, kitchen cookware, dishes, and utensils. Hydro, heating/electricity all included. Restaurants, boutique et café just around the corner. (Most popular street St-Denis , great location, safe and quiet. Il ne manque que vos baggages !!!"
Au contraire, mon frere.
The courtyard is a dingy porch with recycling, trapped between two buildings; the linens are well, a set of sheets. Kitchen cookware does not include a toaster. I know, I know, spoiled, but can a person be a person who eats toast around here?
And the Internet. Oh yes. that. I set my laptop on a tiny, wobbly dining table, and it instantly picked up a wireless signal. OK, whose signal is that? It's all a very long, confusing story, but there is now a 100-foot ethernet cable extending from outside their balcony on the third floor to my door, and across the floor to my router, so that I can have telephone service.
There is no cable ( they have satellite), and the remote does not work. She looked at me cockeyed when I asked if I would have to get up and change the channel each time. When I asked about cable, she said, "You're gonna want cable, eh?" Not that it matters, though. When I last checked the TV, hidden in a tangled hive of '70s components, speakers and wires, it didnt work at all.
I have placed a new ad on Craigslist Montreal. "Spoiled American Wants Toast."
I'll keep you posted