The London Chronicles: My (Land)Lord and Lady

“I know that atmosphere of the Parisian apartment building with the twin menaces of the concierge on the ground floor and the landlord upstairs.”
– Roman Polanski

The house itself was fine, we met the landlady who showed us around, but we had to meet her husband that evening and pass inspection.  Landlady is a Swedish woman, a bit harried, and perpetually busy working on her various properties.  I’m not sure what I was expecting her to be married to, but it certainly wasn’t a short Brazilian man who answered the door wearing board shorts and nothing else.

Landlord then spend the better part of two hours trying to scare us out of renting with emphasis on how strict he was with cleaning, and tales of how he’d tossed various Germans, French, but mostly American students out on their ear for failing to clean the house to his draconian expectations.  He hated Americans!  Every American renter he’d ever had was awful and destructive.

J. and I assured him calmly we’d do our best to change his opinion of American tenants.

But look!  He dragged us to the bathroom where he shoved the corroded remains of a bathtub tap beneath our noses.  The water here was practically acid!  And if you didn’t scrub the whole bathroom down after a shower, the mold would grow overnight, smother you, and you would die.  Surely we would reconsider living in such a place.

Not at all we said pleasantly, making a mental note to rely on bottled water for drinking.

While we were waiting, three other potential renters turned up and we had to move fast to assure him that we wanted the place while he threatened teased us with the possibility that maybe he would just rent it to someone else instead, ha!  Half an hour later we’d convinced him we were serious, and half an hour after that the papers were signed.

Immediately, Landlord became the soul of amiability.  He and Landlady regaled us with tales of their travels and adventures, with heavy emphasis on more cleaning and domestic disasters.  By nearly 10pm we were fast friends.

And I’m insanely jealous that J. gets to listen to all of Landlord’s stories while I’m stuck back in the US because I’m sure if I could turn anyone into a book, it’s this guy.  He has engaged in such epic housing battles that the council knows him by name.  He single handedly was responsible for the crackdown on prostitution in the Brazilian quarter.  A scooter he once owned was suspected to have been used in a murder mere days after he sold it.  You can’t make this stuff up, I just want to follow him around all day with a voice recorder!

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