Thursday, May 23, 2013

People up in my space.

B and I moved to another apartment that still doesn't have a washer and dryer because we enjoy the college student ritual of hauling our dirty clothing back to our parents' houses every week to save 3 dollars. Now, however, three months after moving, we are getting our very own laundry-doing machines in our bedroom closet! My dirty clothes won't even have to leave the room in which I take them off, much less travel an hour and a half by car every week. The downside of this is that there was an entire week's worth of installation work to be done in my apartment. By strangers. I don't generally like strangers. I don't generally like anyone in my apartment other than myself, my cats and sometimes B. AND I was going to be home for all of it, because like the undeservedly blessed person I am, I got a whole month off before starting a new, better job.

Day One of work I was gone, and we had to put the boys in the den all day so they wouldn't dart out the door on the workmen. I was so grieved at having to lock them in one room all day (albeit a room with floor to ceiling window, kitty litter, food and toys) that when I got home I ran to let them out shouting "Mommy's here! I'm here babies!" after which they blase-ly sauntered out for a nap.

Over the next three days, I got to make new friends as they wandered in and out of my personal space like they owned it. At the risk of playing into stereotypes, though in this case in pure truth, all the workmen were Latino and spoke varying mixes of Spanish and English. I took French in high school and can't speak it anyway, so for most of us our single commonality was that we liked the cats. "Bonitas Gatitos!" they would say, gesturing to my boys, and I would agree. And then they would say it again a half an hour later when they  returned. Two of the workmen, however, M and E, offered olive branches of friendship that are either exceedingly creepy or incredibly sweet. I still can't decide which.

E, upon viewing the amount of Disney paraphernalia in the apartment, opened up with "You like Mickey Mouse?" Turned out he goes every year with his three kids because they love it. Great! Hey, we all love the mouse. I could talk to you about Disney World for days. The line of possible creep was crossed when he brought me a present the next morning-a Mickey Mouse key chain from his last trip. I put it on my keys because I thought it was the right thing to do, then removed it after they finished work for the week. I am somewhat uncomfortable when I receive gifts from loved ones; gifts from strangers are territory I care not to venture into.

M, an older gentleman who was missing several of his front teeth, engaged me in conversation early in the week, which was mostly uncomfortable because I couldn't understand most of what he said but kept nodding and interjecting politely hoping I wasn't agreeing to something awful. He did manage to tell me, out of the blue, that the reason he was missing his front teeth was because he was jumped by "Negros" one night after work, and I was uncomfortable because a) that sucks and b) I couldn't decide if the use of "Negro" was descriptive or racist (having been raised with a middle class white background of extreme political correctness). There's also something distinctly off-setting about talking to someone over twice your age and realizing, as he describes his life, just how many more advantages you have already had than he has or ever will. Confronting ones privilege is always uncomfortable.

M also told me I should have at least two "bebes".

M crossed over into misguided older gentleman/creeper territory on the last day I was around with them, when he told me I was beautiful, then returned to say it was such a pleasure to meet me and take my hand in his and kiss it, pressing his lips and whiskers full on into my skin. I'm not even embarrassed to admit that I got up immediately after he left and scrubbed my hand, and that it had nothing to do with his age, race, or class, but the fact that HE WAS A STRANGER WHOSE LIPS MADE CONTACT WITH MY SKIN. I would've done the same, in fact, if many of my family members had made such a gesture (great uncles especially). B immediately decided that M was probably a rapist. Now, I believe no such thing. I believe that both E and M were genuinely being nice in the ways they knew how. However, I also have to admit that I was very glad to see them complete their work and go so that I could walk around shirtless and watch trashy t.v. without fear of judgment, as ones vacation should be spent.

The bad news? We still don't have a washer and dryer. But we do have a hole in the wall where one would go.

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