Friday, February 8, 2013

No. 482 – Badman’s Song

Performer: Tears for Fears
Songwriters: Roland Orzabal, Nicky Holland
Original Release: The Seeds of Love
Year: 1989
Definitive Version: Knebworth 1990, 1990

As I mentioned earlier, Laurie was big into The Seeds of Love—on tape, of course—when we moved into our current apartment in June 2007. That was the second time that I searched for a place to live with a galpal when we were blessed with a bit of good fortune.

We had somehow survived living in a one-bedroom, one-closet apartment for nearly two years, but enough was enough. As I mentioned, a chance to take the studio apartment across the hall from Laurie’s apartment had opened … and closed before we had a chance to move.

We looked at a couple of other places, but nothing worked. Then, one day in April 2007, Laurie called and said she found a building that had a sign advertising a two-bedroom apartment, heat included, while walking home from where she parked. It was exactly one and a half blocks east and north of her (our) current place. And it was a building she said she always had been intrigued about. She set up an appointment to tour the apartment that Saturday.

Since I moved to Chicago, I always looked winsomely at certain buildings where the apartments jutted out toward the street. Some people decorated their front room, which seemed to be a porch, with year-round Christmas lights, and I thought that would be a really cool summer room.

That’s what this place had. It was an old brick building, and right away I noticed that a lot of single-family houses were on the street, which meant fewer massive multiunit places that would eat up the available parking on the street. I also noticed that when we showed up for our appointment, another person was waiting outside, and a couple was coming out of the building with the apparent landlord. OK, so we probably would have to commit right away.

The landlord led us upstairs to the second floor, saying that the couple that had lived there for the past seven years was in the process of moving. He immediately started talking about improvements. I’m going to redo the bathroom and the floors, paint the walls, replace the stove in the kitchen, put in extra cabinets …

As soon as the door opened, it was obvious why he said that. If he hadn’t, I probably would’ve said thanks but no thanks right away. If the couple that had lived there for the past seven years had cleaned the apartment ONCE during that time, I’d have been shocked.

It was mostly empty—they were still there—but cigarette butts were strewn about on the floor along with kitty litter (and kitty poo) and the odd pop or beer can (and God knows what else) strewn about. The shower curtain was black—not its original color. In the kitchen a thick coat of grease spattered on the wall all the way to the ceiling. A few flour moths flitted about in the pantry. Laurie wanted to test the water pressure of the shower but was afraid to touch the curtain. The place was, in fact, a pit.

It also was huge—two bedrooms, one of them bigger than our current bedroom—plus the aforementioned front porch, plus an enclosed back porch and a working gas fireplace, plus the pantry which had the refrigerator thus opening space in the kitchen. It had potential, but … my god.

The landlord had been proactive in saying he was going to clean it up and that he would put all the improvements in writing. He turned up his pitch. You should come back tomorrow. The place will be empty then, and it will look better.

After we left, I looked at Laurie. Well … ? I figured she’d just say no with a look of horror on her face. Instead, she said she wanted to go back the next day when it was empty. Maybe it would be a little better then. No chance it could be worse.

It wasn’t clean by any means, but it was at least less of a pit than it had been. This time at least Laurie could test the shower pressure.

We started to talk turkey. We had to give 60-day notice at our current place. We didn’t want to pay for two places for two months, but one month would be OK. The landlord said with half the security deposit, he’d take the apartment off the market. Besides, he said, he’d need at least a month to fix up the place. We wouldn’t have to pay for that.

I looked at Laurie, fully expecting her to say no, but she said she had a good feeling about the place. It was $1,100 a month, which was a good deal. The landlord looked at Laurie and said, “Please say yes.”

Well, how can you deny a landlord who begs? We took it. The landlord said he’d draw up the prelease agreement, and we’d sign it tomorrow.

Laurie was more excited than I was. It appeared OK, but the guy sure had his work cut out for him. I did like that we’d have only a month overlap as far as rent went: That made the move such that we didn’t have to do it all in one day. I’ve had moves like that since 1995, and that makes such a huge difference when you can do it piecemeal.

We had a new place—our place. This was cause for celebration, so we decided on that Monday to meet up at home after work, go over to sign the prelease agreement and then go to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant (one I had introduced Laurie to not long before this).

The landlord was already there—probably wondering whether we’d change our minds. As soon as I signed, I started to have a good feeling. The landlord said he’d contact us at the end of the month when we would sign the lease itself and he’d turn over the keys.

On June 1, we took control of the apartment … and I couldn’t believe it was the same place. The landlord beamed in pride. The place had been scrubbed, polished, painted. The bathroom was redone, the kitchen, too. The landlord even threw in a new dishwasher—a surprise and very welcomed addition. I said to Laurie, if the apartment looked like this a month ago, we would’ve lost it before we ever saw it. What a stroke of good fortune.

So, thanks to our piggy predecessors, we ended up with a great apartment, at which we’ve lived going on six years now. Needless to say, the next tenants won’t have the same concerns as we did.

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