Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Think of me as Jimmy Stewart in “Rear Window” (okay, without the broken leg or classy chick)


Okay, I just signed my lease for what will now be my 16th year in this apartment building.  My rent was increased $21.00 a month (to $556.00) which isn’t going to break me, but it did encourage me to spend a week or so looking at other places in my neighborhood--only to discover I still have a pretty good deal here.  Big surprise, I’m staying put for another year.

I can’t believe I’ve been here this long though; if others had a say in my living arrangements I’d be long gone.  There’s one in particular, my friend & coworker Kathy who looks for every opportunity to tell me it’s time to move.  If I report that my 91 year old neighbor just died, she says “poison air…you gotta get out of there!”   If I complain that the guy who lives across from me slams his door when he comes & goes, she tells me it’s only so long before he Hulk-smashes my own door down & rips my head off.  If I said “a sack of money just fell from the sky & landed on my balcony”  Kathy would say “McDougall, that’s drug money—please get the hell out of there!”

So last week when a young Indian couple moved into the empty apartment down the hall (and the guy was wearing a turban), I wanted to tell somebody, but I knew Kathy would probably drive over here with a U-Haul—so I told my other friend Danielle instead.  She said  “Ooh, you’re going to come to work smelling like curry now!”  I just looked at her.  Then she said “You know you’re not just getting that couple, right?  Their whole family will move in there too!”  I said “It’s only a one-bedroom, Danielle” and she replied “that’s how they LIKE it, packed in like a can of sardines!” 

Meanwhile, in the last week or so I have seen a pair of elderly Indian women enter & exit that apartment, and a gorgeous twentysomething woman straight out of Bollywood with 4-5 giggling Indian girls in bright colors (and all looking 10 years old) following behind her.  Then there was an elderly Indian man going in there the other day with a paper sack full of big yellow flowers, and last night the original turban-guy was attempting to lug a giant baby stroller up the stairs.   It’s a one bedroom unit, people!  What’s going on in there!?   No matter—I’m fine.

Remember the movie “Rear Window” with Jimmy Stewart & Grace Kelly?  Jimmy plays a photographer for “LIFE” Magazine, holed up in his shabby one bedroom walk-up with a broken leg.  Grace Kelly is his gorgeous Madison Avenue girlfriend who can’t figure out why Jimmy prefers slumming it, when he could probably afford ritzier digs—but Jimmy will have none of it.  He’s just fine where he is, thank you very much.

“Oh darling, you’re missing out on all the finer things in life!  You can’t live here forever, you know!” 

The truth is, my place reminds me of Jimmy’s digs a bit; it’s a little worn from wear.  My patio door is fogged in a few spots (something to do with leaking gas between the double-pane glass that 2 bottles of Windex won’t clean off). 

My kitchen is pretty outdated too, there’s no granite countertops or stainless steel appliances (but I do have some really nice ceramic tile flooring in there).  It’s a small place, and I’m planning to paint a couple walls a different color, just to shake things up.  Things could be worse.

So why am I still here?  I haven’t completely ruled out finding someone in a pretty dress someday, but if she starts asking questions, here’s what I’ll tell her:  I like this neighborhood—I’m able to walk anywhere I need to go.  My dentist, the barber, the supermarket, a couple pizza places, even a decent restaurant or two—just a stroll up the street.  It may not have the “cool factor” of the Southside, but it doesn’t have all those bars either.  (I’ll take dudes in turbans over drunks any day.)

Why not a house here?  I just don’t want all that room unless I’m sharing it with someone.  A place with more swag like in Sewickley?  It’d be nice but I’d rather have it in the bank instead.  If I’m going to impress someone, it’s not going to be because I live next door to a Bentley dealership!  (Okay maybe that would impress, but I think I’d have to be driving one of ‘em too.)

All of this just to explain why I signed that lease again & am in no big hurry to live in the lap of HGTV luxury.  So until Grace Kelly comes along, or I remain single, retire early & move back home someday, this “home away from home” set-up suits me just fine.  (But I’d sure like to know what’s going in that other apartment!)


  1. Doug, your gaff is PROPER cheap - and having everything round the corner (esp the 'gentleman's lounge', ahem) should never be under-estimated.

    Also, any prospective move MUST take into account that mustard chair - no mean feat...

  2. Thanks Andrew, I agree--the convenience of things makes it all worthwhile.

    Surprised you remember my "mustard chair" but that one was returned eons ago, it's now camel! :)

  3. I agree with Andrew--in the Boston area you would easily be paying twice, even triple that monthly amount just in the suburbs. I don't really think it's up to anyone else to be telling you where you should be living--it's your decision.

  4. Thanks Pam--I have a couple friends who live in Boston, I know it's a pricey area to live. As for my rent sounding cheap though, I guess it's in the eye of the beholder--or wage earner :)


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