Unfortunate Ponytail Accident
There’s a girl who rides my train at the same time every day. She wears awkwardly placed versions of Target’s idea of hipster clothing, and though she’s no svelte figure, they still seem to fall off of her in the wrong places. Her dark cigarette jeans become almost baggy around her butt and hips, sliding down, giving the effect of giant wayward breasts that have somehow been knocked around to appear tacked to her lower back. They slide down at about the same time that her thin knockoff Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones re-print distressed concert tee (see below) slides up, aided by the shifting strap of her quilted crazy-print all-the-rage-with-suburban-moms laptop bag.
One who walks behind her is subjected to a view of her panties (and they are “panties,” a word so icky that I usually reserve it for the type of floral print underwear they sell in groups of 6 in plastic bags at department stores, usually with a picture of an otherwise sexy lady on the front, laughing it up, conveying to all who handle the panty pack that yes, 25-year old women do wear, even enjoy, the Hi-Cut Brief–while I get puke in the back of my throat simply by Googling “hi cut brief”). The Panties serve this girl as a type of spangled butt crack tent, saving her from the scarring she would no doubt endure if someone saw anything more than what she’s cool with showing, that is, the skin between the top of her sagging jeans and the bottom of the leg holes of The Panties. She wears them like the dude on the corner by the bus stop wears his boxers: up higher than where pants would be, pants creeping slowly toward the ankle. However, she, like the bus stop guy, always wears a belt of some type, tightened juuuuuust enough to keep the pants above knee level.
When she alights the train, she begins a furious dance down the street, known to some as walking, but when she does it, it looks as if her legs are tiny catapults fired from behind. One arm secures her quilted bag, while the other flaps crazily out at her side, like she’s swiping her way through a crowd, swatting at giant flies that are already mostly behind her, her arm the only oar rowing her tubby tug boat forward. She reaches up at intervals to straighten her knockoff designer glasses, cheap gold metallic plastic “D&G” glinting in the sun, and in doing so pretty much only manages to disturb them from where they’ve slipped, miraculously, to the top of her nose, where they should be perched. It’s like the glasses, wise beyond their price tag, are saying “This is for your own good, you know!!!”
Her hair is the color of the edges of a scab when it’s too small to be there, brownish yellow, and just as crusty. It looks as if it’s been in an unfortunate ponytail accident: chopped to a quick without a moment’s notice. She bumbles past the door I enter every day, on to some other place, I imagine she’s a literature student writing some disgustingly complicated work that will never be understood on any level by anyone, and will be published for that very reason. Else she’s a student of some type of earthy science, where you spend ten years discovering things other people have discovered a thousand times, in the off-chance that you might find out something different about it, whilst some aging professor on the verge of giving up on the effect of radio waves on the migration patterns of the African gypsy moth, silently cheers you on with his mock indifference and lack of ability to express emotion.
When I see this girl, I can’t look away. All of the above makes me regard her as her professor would regard some rare moth, the common, yet complicated, Dorkus totalus, otherwise known as the Wingless American Nerd. When I see this girl, I get the sense that I’d like to nail her to a tiny board and put her under glass, I’d write a million papers about her that will never be read because they’ve already been written.
Everyone, everyone, I would like to announce that I’m So Difficult.
At least, according to the leasing agent in charge of renting my apartment, I’ve recently been a bit difficult. Which serves to be confusing to her and the legions of potential renters she parades through my apartment, as normally, people enjoy paying for a place to live separately from others, while under the constant threat that total strangers may come in at any moment, without notice. Many of the moments in my apartment are Bra-Less, Pants-Less, Leaning On Pillow Eating Taco & Watching Bridezillas types of moments. I do not enjoy constantly listening for a click in the front door lock.
I also do not enjoy coming home on a Saturday afternoon after a showing to find my back door standing wide open, as if a ghost was taking out the trash for me and would be right back. When this happened, I immediately called Leah, the leasing agent from The Company That Owns My God-Forsaken Party Building, Where People Walk on the Roof Shirtless With PBR’s In Hand Every Night, Where The Fence Might As Well Be Made of Road Bikes Covered with Ironic Stickers. She spluttered at first, feigned ignorance, admitted (because she had to) that she’d shown the apartment that morning, but denied ever taking anyone out the back door. “Look,” I said, jutting words in edgewise, as that was the only way to halt Leah’s blubbering damage control, jiggling around on the phone like a pan of Jello on top of an old rickety clothes dryer, “I don’t like the idea of people walking in and out of here all day long, I don’t know if it was you who did this or another apartment company–”
“YEAHHHHH,” she foghorned, “Because those apartment agencies are SHADY, dude.” (She over-enunciated “dude,” like she was coming to my school to talk about drugs and turned her folding chair backwards and straddled it to show me that she was just like me.
“If they’re shady,” I said, “whyyyy are they being allowed to show my apartment??”
Leah jibberybabbled something about how the Company That Owns My God-Forsaken Party Building has no control over the people who come in. How it could be “anyone!” from any one of the city’s apartment leasing agencies, where all you need to get into real estate is a car that was made post-2006 and a willingness to bullshit people into signing a year of their lives away to a place more expensive than they can comfortably afford so you can collect their first month’s rent. “SO!” Leah blared, “What I can dooooo is I can put a note in your file that you ONLY want our company to show your apartment.”
“Fine,” said I, “Perfect.” Normally I am wary of people who say they will Put Notes in My File. I’m aware that my file doesn’t exist, in that way that electronic files kept by magazine distribution companies do not exist. It’s a place where they type in whether you lost your temper and called them an asshole so that the next person you call about the fact that it’s been 6 months and you haven’t seen your refund check yet will know how to handle you.
Apparently Leah didn’t put said note in said file, as I continued to get calls from leasing agents allllll week last week, asking to show my apartment at random times. I kept saying no, and they, keys to my place in hand, protested. “It’s illegal for you to say no,” one particularly jerk-offy, self-important douche named Ted snipped. Another asshole, high on his title of “Leasing Agent,” the fact that his picture is on a website and that he gets to work in some hip converted loft apartment with a Starbucks machine in the corner, huffed “You’re making things really hard for me, Girl.”
So fuck Leah, I thought. Obviously something was amiss. I didn’t mention any of this to her when she called to set up her own showing, and asked me “Have we found the culprit yet?” like all this time it was me who was supposed to be fucking dusting my apartment for prints, me who was responsible for going over the books to see who had accessed my apartment listing on that day, between the hours of 11am and 12:30pm (mind you, after Leah had left, Leah, who never fucks up and leaves doors standing open). “WE have not found the culprit,” I said. “I don’t know. See you later.”
I hung up and called Leah’s boss, who at first attempted the same cavity-inducing damage control as Leah. I thought about alerting him to the fact that I’d very recently gotten lip service from Leah, and had no need to have my lip re-serviced by him, but as I told him the things Leah told me, that the company had no way of knowing who was coming in or out, that those leasing agencies were “shady,” blah blah blah, his end of the phone went quiet. “Well,” he finally said, “I guess all I can say is that this is all news to me. We personally check out each of the keys to our apartments, and log who goes in and out. It’s very easy to find out who was in there that day, and those agencies won’t be allowed into our properties again.” Of course, he then saved Leah’s ass, which she’s been having a hard time covering lately, by reinforcing that no one in OUR company would EVER leave a DOOR OPEN.
Right, so, that’s why Leah went into a tailspin of pretend ignorance, why she suddenly didn’t know how to use company protocol to find out who was in my apartment, why she treated it as a problem that just downright sucked for me, but was my problem alone.
I think it’s probably my phone call to Leah’s boss that shifted the tectonic plates of Polite Looking The Other Way that she’d hoped I would stand on if she was chirpy and nice to me. Some shit must have hit the fan, because the tone of Leah’s next phone call to schedule a Saturday morning full of momentary visitors to my home was decidedly terse. At that point, I was on a roll of Renter’s Rights, and I denied Leah her earliest request. “I’m not going to be up at 8am on Saturday,” I said. “I’ll be in bed. Sleeping in. They’ll have to come later.”
“Oh, it won’t offend me if you’re sleeping, I don’t mind,” she said, as if it was her feelings I was trying to preserve by not having my sleep interrupted by 3-5 sets of eyes at the foot of my bed, surveying my closet space and measuring the distance from wall to window in increments of Ikea furniture. “All I care about is just like, getting this apartment rented.” Like that had been unclear to me. But still I said no, have them come later. No, no, no, and finally, no. Later, or no deal. She grudgingly said she guessed she’d caaaall them baaaaack (people seem to hate to inconvenience someone until they’ve got a piece of paper that says that someone will legally have to pay them a certain amount every month. Then you can be inconvenienced until the inconvenient cows come home). She left me a voicemail later that she’d set up the first viewing for a whole hour later than previously planned. “Hope that works for you,” she said into the chasm of my voicemail, then clicked her END button with as much fury as she could muster at 6:30pm on a Friday afternoon. I thought about leaving her a voicemail that said, “Sure that works for me, because I’ll be heading over to your apartment at 9am, I’ll be peering into your shower, opening your closet, tracking cigarette butts and street tar into your living room. Me and a whole bunch of people I’ve just met will be standing around in your bedroom at approximately 9:15am, looking at your used Kleenex and a thong freshly peeled off your butt and Post-Its from your boyfriend. And if you don’t smile about it like Frances fucking Farmer on the pony ride at the dime store, I’m going to call you at the end of every long work day and leave you a pissy voicemail. Sure, that time works for me just fine.” END.
Cut to Saturday, when I’m trying to make myself invisible as people wander aimlessly through my apartment, politely pretending not to notice me as I sit there and catch up on paying the bills and filing the evidence that I’ve done so, the most bland and impersonal ritual I could come up with at short notice on a Saturday morning. I’d told Leah after the first showing that I’d be gone before the next, so imagine her surprise when she’s standing on one side of my front door, apologizing to who she hoped would be the Replacement Tenants, for the fact that I’d been “So Difficult.” Imagine her surprise when she walked in and there were her words, above my head, glittering in a spiderweb hanging from the ceiling. SO DIFFICULT, they announced, and the wide-eyed visitors to the fair indulged in the awkwardness of the whole situation. Upon seeing me, frozen in time with my bag on my arm and my sunglasses in my hand, on my way out the very door into which Leah and her big mouth were barging, she stopped talking and immediately seemed very very happy to see me, as people are when they’ve just been talking about you and are horrifyingly certain that you heard it all. She looked at me like I’d been presumed dead for ten years and finally made it down off that mountain and God I love that dress and those are cuuuute shooooes where’d you get your sunglasses? well I guess I better let them look around and get out of your way KTHANKSBYEEEEEEE!
Leah the Uncertain Leasing Agent, whose very name is unsure (“Le-uhhh?”), is now officially dead to me. I’d like to tell her that there’s nothing wrong with being So Difficult when you pay money to have the keys to a space you can control for the period of 1 year, where you can be as difficult or as do0rmat-y as you want. The deal is supposed to be that I give you money and you leave me the fuck alone unless something breaks or I stop giving you money. The deal is not that I pretend you never make mistakes and that I take part in entertaining groups of total strangers for seventeen minutes at a time for free. This ain’t a booth in the freak show, and even the bearded lady got a quarter every now and then. So the next time you wonder, Le-UHHH, why people are being So Difficult, you should probably put a fucking cork in that blowhole you call a mouth and blast it out your asshole instead, an emission which, I assure you, will be far less of an affliction to the delicate senses of those around you than your blaring, broken-oboe blast of a voice.
But enough about Leah.
About this “so difficult” stuff. I would like to point out that even though it’s illegal for assholes to party on my roof, even though the stomping around kept me up, then woke me up repeatedly, last night, as I live on the top floor, I did not call the police. I didn’t even yell “SHUT THE HOLY FUCK UUUUUUUUP” out the window, as I was tempted to do at 1:37am. Because I am not So Difficult, I am just the normal amount of Difficult, just a touch of Bitchy and Tired of This Shit. I don’t like paying for things that other people get to stomp all over and disturb all night long, but what the fuck, I thought. Party tonight means quiet tomorrow night.
On the other hand, I understand where Leah is coming from. Most people are so goddamn POLITE that they lose the ability to COMMUNICATE. I was supposed to buy Leah’s story that fucking Zorro could have gotten the keys to my apartment and left the door open, that there was no way of knowing what actually happened. Because that would be The Polite Thing to Do, that would be Doing Her a Solid. Unfortunately, the more solids you do for people like that, the more laptops and cash and TV’s get stolen out of apartments. Bitch is lucky everything was still there when I got home. Bitch is lucky I’m not actually crazy, or I would have called her boss at home and demanded she be flayed and tanned and made into a chair for me to sit on while I watch them burn her family’s house down. I did something that was somewhere between Playing Along and Losing My Shit when I called her boss and was honest about what happened.
So fuck this Shutup and Be Nice business. I quit. It puts you in very real danger of being people’s stairway to a paycheck. Not that I don’t want you to get your paycheck, Leah and the Army of D-Baggy Leasing Agents, there’s nothing I want more for you. But if you’ve got to inconvenience me to get it, you’re going to have a difficult time. Nobody’s ever described me as “laid back” and “down to earth” and “goes with the flow” or even “totally cool.” I think that’s because I open my mouth quite a lot, and 26% of the time something not entirely stupid and not entirely incorrect comes out. Y’all just happen to be getting the brunt of that 26% right now. Don’t be so difficult and deal with it.