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1997may20. Tense Eviction Unfolds After Hostage Situation.

You may recall reading about my move to a house in November of last year. My housemate (let’s call him “Mike Jr.”) had planned to live at that address for about two years, and I clocked in with the same estimate. The owner of the lived, at that time, in a foreign locale (rhymes with “Texaco City”) for a number of years. Intending to continue his stay, we arranged the deal through a mutual acquaintance, and shook on the deal without a lease.

From a tenant’s point of view, there’s several good things about not having a lease (responsibilities, deposit, the law, etc), but there’s one really slimy bad one. And that’s the one when the owner of the house decides to move back to America because his father-in-law is kidnapped.

“He ... we ... WHAT? We’re being EVICTED because of a KIDNAPPING???”

[my “hairdresser,” later in the week]: “Only you, Jeff. Only you.”

In Texaco City, roughly one-third of the foreigners have been kidnapped (this is second-hand information and I’m too lazy to look it up. I mean, I’m not going there anytime soon, see) or have received a KidnapGram™. KidnapGrams are really bizarre. You (the “VICTIM”) receive a letter (from the “KIDNAPPER”) indicating that you have been specially selected to be kidnapped at a future date. Send money now! Avoid the rush to kidnap you! Most people apparently pay the money, because, hey, who wants to be kidnapped? Sure, I could get a few missives out of it, but I’ve heard the food is lousy. Anyway, after they secured the safe release of poppy, they all decided to move up into exactly the same spot we were, not as many kidnappings of Michigrainians, I guess. When I was talking with the owner, I had to bite my tongue so I didn’t ask him how much the ransom was.

I mean, that’s what you were thinking the whole time, wasn’t it?

Ransom ransom ransom. $ $ $. What kind of etiquette is involved? I mean, does Miss Manners cover this? “Tactful ransom amount questions ... page 27.” We just sort of sat around in shock for a few days. Then, of course, we went through the whole new house selection process. The highlight of this hoop-jumpin’ festival was “Vinnie,” the landlord who desperately wanted tenants who wouldn’t paint the walls black. But he’s not gonna get ’em, with his tough-guy demeanor and crappy house. After seeing way too many small houses, we found a two-story walk-up (that is, the top two floors of a three-story house) that seemed to fit our large space needs.

Moving is a complete pain in the ass. I have way too much stuff. Books, CDs, records, paper. Lots of paper. Practically no furniture, save a desk, a bed, and the Ikea HEVTVEN (Extremely Heavy Home Entertainment Center System valued at exactly 64 dollars). Actually moving this beast again so soon was beyond comprehension, so I reconfigured all the long boards into my own special MILKENSHELVEN (Shelving System Comprised Of Pressed-Wood Shelves and Milk Crates*). I started pitching stuff before and during the move. At one point I decided to toss my dresser out just to avoid moving it up the stairs. Mike Jr.’s father (“Bill”) asked about the finish on the dresser.

“My mom refinished it.”
“Your MOTHER refinished it and you’re getting rid of it?"
“Well ... errr ... ”
While I was off moving some other stuff, Papa Bill examined the dresser. He had bad news for me.
“I saw the back with the numbers on it ... this thing’s an antique. You could probably get four hundred dollars for it.”
Hot dog! That thing is coming with me! This is something I NEED! Then I talked with another friend about the need to discard.
“God I don’t need all this stuff. I want a powerbook, and nothing else.” “One of my wife’s friends only has a duffel bag filled with clothes and whatever.”
“Oooh, is she married?"
“Well, she’s a lesbian.”
“Curse my stinky life!”
After we got almost everything out of the old house, I sat down in the sun room. When we first moved in, we thought we would have been spending many a carefree night sitting on this screened porch, drinking lemonade and fanning ourselves with orca chocolate bars. I ate an orange in the dark and smiled as a train trundled by, causing the house to shake pleasantly.

A few days later and we still hadn’t gotten half the stuff out of the boxes, making for entertaining mornings before work. And then, when guests came over, weoooo, how embarrassing ...

“Where’s the Trivial Pursuit, oh damn damn damn! Curse my stinky life!”
The two women who live downstairs have identified Mike Jr. as one of the upstairs neighbors, but probably still believe that I’m a phone repairman (an even longer story that, incredibly, I’m not going to tell you). They seem pretty nice, except when they start rubbing all against me, like on “Friends.” That’s just wrong.

Just around the corner there’s a bakery, a surf shop and a tattoo parlor. Mike Jr. and I will become fat curl-shooting bikers in six months! [cue “Hawaii Five-O” theme song, slow fade-out]

* Teens: possession of milk crates is a misdemeanor! Impress your friends! Show the local gang that you’ve got the “right stuff"! Steal milk crates ... today! [disclaimer: not an endorsement to steal milk crates. “Curse my stinky life” t-shirts available at the Missive Gift Shop, or wherever finer t-shirts are sold.]