Here was the bed he slept in. And this was the kitchen he would always make his instant coffee in. Do you remember how much he loved instant coffee? He would always offer us some even though we never accepted. And do you remember how he would let us wander in his apartment as we examined it, awkwardly standing by as I took a few haphazard photos? His complete lack of facial expressions was so disconcerting!
This was the bathroom he showered in and the toilet he used, the sink he sometimes shaved over and the black-splotched mirror he would look into as he brushed his teeth.
These were the books he read, and oh! There was the one he was currently reading: Modern Trends in Post-Colonial Interpretations of Revolutionary Artwork. He was such a scholar, getting his PhD I believe.
Remember when he told us in his endearing French accent about the crazy lady who lived in the vacant building across from his apartment and how she would scream at the people in the subsidized bread line as they were fighting? How we nervously laughed and laughed! We were so unsure of what the proper response should be!
And when, right after meeting him at Hardees, I asked him what his wife does and it turned out she was the lady sitting right next to you? Wasn’t that funny!
The way he asked us whether or not we wanted the apartment was certainly charming as well. He inhaled deeply and said, “So, do you think this is something like what you are looking for,” and as we looked at each other we both knew that there was no way we would ever want to live somewhere the kitchen is the size of the bathtub.
As soon as we’d seen the kitchen, we heard the death knell of our relationship. There would be no second meeting to sign the contract or determine the final details of the lease. There would be no exchange of phone numbers with the real estate agent or the bowab, and no other semi-firm handshakes.
And so it is with fondness I remember those awkward moments we spent in his tiny apartment, examining his home and finding it wanting. Though our friendship, and I hope we can call it friendship, lasted only a painful 30 minutes, I know I will be unable to forget the complete lack of comfort I felt while in his presence. It may have been the fact we were not speaking in his native tongue, or perhaps he had forgotten how to interact with humans other than his wife and research subjects because of his time spent buried under PhD work. Whatever the reason for his particular brand of charm, his company was priceless. I do hope he finds someone else to rent his apartment quite soon.