*In keeping with our Russell Theme, I thought I'd recycle this post. It was written the first week I started blogging, in July of 'o7, back when my mom and dad were my "public". In its entirety. (...Oh, wait, Val! You commented on this one. Sorry, three devoted readers!) Anyway, we've been doing some spring cleaning around the house lately - weeding the flower beds and trimming trees, organizing closets and making repairs inside. Last night Russ was fixing the rocker in the living room. It's been squeaking and not gliding smoothly - can't have that. Various-sized screws and bolts were scattered all around him, and of course...I got the giggles. Giggles turned to snorts, and before I knew it I was just this side of rolling on the floor in hysterics. I guess that's the way it will forever be, thanks to Ali...
Still in grad-school and pretty poor, Russ and I didn't have a lot to choose from in terms of "nice housing". Our apartment complex started off being fine - very old, but clean. But then the sweet couple who owned it when we moved in decided they wanted to fulfill their lifelong dream (which turned out to be managing gas stations), so they sold it. The complex went through a variety of owners, I think the count was eight, to be exact - each from some far-away country, each harder to understand than the one before. Finally, the "revolving owner door" stopped and out emerged our new landlord: Dr. Farkan E. Kalakan, Ph.D., according to his business card. Which stated exactly, and only, that. (We were never sure what his degree was in. Suffice to say it wasn't in Rental Property Management.)
Farkan had a Building Handyman named Ali (last name too many consonants to pronounce). Ali didn't enjoy being a Handyman. Not one bit, as evidenced by the I'd-rather-cram-hot-nails-under-my-skin-than-fix-your-stupid-sink expression that was always on his face. Ali fancied himself a Man of Luxury, or more appropriately, a Man of Allah. He would put in a very strenuous day of lounging around the apartment complex office building, snoozing on the couch under the air-conditioning window unit. Whenever I went in with my rent check, there he was - all sprawled out and snoring, happy as a fat Tabby after a bowl of Fancy Feast. The only thing that got Ali's attention and made him snap-to from his rigorous sleep schedule was his devotion to his religion. If it was time to face Mecca and pray, he did it. Diligently, whenever required of him. He would stop mid leak-repair to inform us that he had to go pray. And then he would bolt - tools scattered everywhere, water rising all around us.
One day I called Dr. Kalakan, Ph.D to let him know that our door wouldn't close.
It had been messed up for quite awhile - the combination of the building settling and the constant humidity had caused it to swell and get off track. At first it would just stick, but finally it got to where it wouldn't close at all. Ali was summoned to take a look at the problem. He tried a variety of reliable door fix-it products: wood putty, glue, epoxy filler. When that didn't work, he moved on to more reliable bonding substances: something that resembled molasses, something that looked like wintergreen gum, something that I swear was the rubberband off the morning newspaper, and, of course, duct tape.
After living with a duct-taped-closed door for several days, the Not-So-Nice-Not-So-Patient Kristy had finally had enough. I called Farkan to let him know he would be fixing our door immediately and properly, or I would be reporting him to the authorities (whoever they were) and not paying one more cent of rent. I'm not sure which of my threats got his attention, but that afternoon he sent Ali out. (Oh, boy!)
Ali was fiddling with the door, chiseling out chunks of wood and whacking away at things with a mallet, when suddenly the door just totally fell off. Ker-THUD. Right there on the landing. He mumbled something indiscernible and went right back to his "work" - sawing, drilling, knocking on things, hammering...but making very little observable progress. I noticed with each tick of the clock that he was getting more and more agitated. He kept looking around, gazing up at the sky, looking down the staircase, fidgeting. Lots of fidgeting. Finally, with dusk upon us, he yelled out frantically, "I have to go!"
I came running over from fixing supper and asked, as casually as possible, "Um, so, hey! Where you going?"
He said, "I have to go!"
"When?" I asked.
I said (just as emphatically), "Oh, no. You don't." I staccato-pointed at our door on the ground.
He feigned deafness and started to walk away. (So now it's sundown and we have this big, open hole beckoning: Welcome, all sinister Boogie People of College Station. Come kill us, if you're so inclined!) I stood blocking the door as best I could and called Farkan to report the situation. (Otherwise known as Tattle-Tell on Ali.) Farkan requested that I hand the phone over to Ali and thus commenced a very heated argument in Arabic. I was feeling less than comfortable - a wee bit twitchy and sweaty, in fact. The end result of the phone conversation was a sheepish looking Ali, staying to fix our door. I didn't know enough about the fine-print of the have-to-pray situation to know what that meant in terms of Ali not getting to leave. But I knew he didn't look happy.
An hour later, Russ was home from school, supper was smelling good, and the door was finally back up hanging in the frame. Hanging by the thinnest of dental floss threads and teetering precariously, but up nonetheless. I thought we were headed in the right direction, when Ali abruptly stopped and blurted out loudly:
"I need. A big. SCREW."
And then he ran, literally ran, skidding and popping wheelies, down the stairs, got in his car, and drove away.
I stood there stunned.
After a minute or two I started to feel a tad panicky. What now? Do we go to bed without a door that locks, that's barely hanging there - a door that the teeniest whisper of a breeze could take right down? Do I call Farkan, who was not known for his call-back response time, back? Do we go spend the night with a friend and just leave our stuff here, exposed and free for the taking? Do we sleep in shifts, while the other stands guard? Being a safety girl, I was near tears. Our apartment was NOT in the best part of town. Not knowing what to do, I looked over at Russell. He was remarkably calm, kicked back on the couch with this funny little crooked smile. "Russell!!" I screeched. "What do we DO?!"
With a come-hither gleam in his eye, he said,
"...You know, I need one, too. Think there's time before he gets back?"
...Oh. Help me, Rhonda.
SERIOUSLY. Is that all men ever think about?