Here are two things I'm having trouble believing lately: One, I am, in two hours, actually leaving for Nicaragua and there's no way I can get out of it, and two, I rented my duplex to a couple of cute art students yesterday.
Of course, if you will remember, it is my very animated, very reality-challenged sister Cheryl who lives in Nicaragua -- gave up her perfectly passable job as a casino cocktail waitress in Las Vegas to buy a bar in Granada six years ago -- and it is also her fault I got stuck with the duplex in Boulevard Heights. Because believe me, I am not a landlord right now as any conscious career move on my part. I am a landlord right now because I am cursed and can't help it.
"Six months," my sister told me, her green eyes glowing like beads of plutonium, "I'll be home in six months."
Three years later, I'm still making payments on the place, and worse, the tenants moved out and left it looking like the duplex equivalent to a diseased asshole, which explains why I spent the entire month of January with paint in my hair and cuts on my thumbs. "Are you sure you're not a lesbian?" Grant asked me over coffee at Java Vino one morning, eyeing my overalls, baseball cap and insulated vest, "because you sure-ass dress like one."
"Fuck you, you booger-eating ape!" I shrieked, which was not even near being one of my better shrieks, seeing as how I was exhausted from having somehow single-handedly laid carpeting in two rooms. Grant is always absent whenever actual elbow grease is in order. He simply lifts like a fog, leaving you turning in circles swearing he was just there. Lary and Daniel are a lot more receptive to being plied for plebe duty, but, like Grant, they are two of my oldest friends, which means I've tapped that vein so many times it won't even rise anymore. I thought about extorting help from Keiger, but he's impervious to my wiles. Face it, the last time he took me on a date, he ditched me at a movie theater, and not even on purpose. He just got up to use the restroom or something and I slipped his mind.
So there was nothing to do but import help from Ohio in the form of my brother-in-law Eddie, who, when he isn't creating art, buys abandoned houses and fixes them up all arty-tarty. Too bad he couldn't stick around for when it came time to rent the place, because I was surprised at how much I hated that process; having to break up my day to drive there and endure the presence of people who don't have the heart to tell you no, so they tell you anything else instead. "It's great." "I love it." "I'll take it." Translation: "I just wanna get to my car and you're standing in my way."
I have absolutely no endurance for that, so after one week I was ready to pussy out and stop posting it altogether, figuring it would just fill up on its own or something, word of mouth or whatever. But then there was a big crowd at Grant's door because he'd put his modern life on sale on eBay again, and all of a sudden it hit me: Energy attracts energy.
Every so often, Grant puts all his modern furniture up for auction, flawless Saarinen tables, Herman Miller chairs, atomic-age pottery and what all, fabulous stuff. He had people flying in from Indiana yesterday to pick up shelves they could have bought blocks from their own home, probably. But they were there less for the shelves than for the gravitational pull of Grant's sonic energy. His ad on eBay alone is a masterpiece of humor and mirth, promising all kinds of cosmic vibe to go along with his collection.
"Great house plus naked girls!" "Cool place comes with free margaritas!" "Keg parties OK!" my postings blared, because I figured it was wise to target the dude demographic. It simply did not make business sense to attract any more Buckhead yuppy types to the property just to have them sniff disapprovingly at the weathered exterior. One didn't even get that far -- she turned back at the pile of discarded tires down the street. Tires, I thought? That's nothing. I once lived on a street where the police found a severed human head in a plastic sack. C'mon, people.
"This is not Vinings or Sandy Springs," I posted. "Ineffectual yuppy suck-ups please don't respond." "Come, see the laid-back, clueless landlord who is a total pushover!" "(That part about naked girls is subject to change at any time.)"
The place rented immediately -- before Grant could even send me a joke response saying he's looking for a house to open a meth operation -- to two Atlanta College of Art students, who, surprisingly, are, like, girls. "We figured we could compete with the neighbors in our nakedness," said one, and it turned out she wasn't so much kidding, as they'd both been seen in pasties on Peachtree Street earlier in the week, picketing the sale of their school. "All it got us were topless pictures of us on the Internet," laughed the other.
Oh, my God, my energy thought, it's like looking into a mirror.
Hollis Gillespie is the author of Confessions of a Recovering Slut and Other Love Stories and Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales from a Bad Neighborhood. Her commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered."
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