SURREAL ADVENTURES FROM THE SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

For the sake of good neighbourliness

I’ve always wanted to live in a cosy house with flowers in the back garden and a big skylight to watch the moon from my bed and hear the rain tapping on my window.

Unfortunately, with the present astronomical housing prices, I can only afford to pay the mortgage of a studio flat downtown, with a small terrace and a parking place at the basement. There are 85 flats in the apartment block where I live, sold at the modest price of half a million G each (being G the official currency of the South Sandwich Islands). There's also a nice swimming pool and a small children playground with swings. The only inconvenience is… there are too many neighbours.

Nevertheless, I firmly believe in peaceful and harmonic coexistence in the neighbourhood. But that’s all I believe in.

The lady who used to live next door -actually an annoying busybody- felt seriously offended when I didn’t return her invitation to see the new furniture in her kitchen one fine Monday evening when I was back from work. I was a bit surprised about it and not in the least interested in her kitchen cabinets, but for the sake of good neighbourliness, I even accepted a cup of coffee.

As I said before, I never returned the invite. That was a big mistake. She never spoke to me again after that.

Let me put you in the picture: when I go into the garage under my apartment block, as I do every evening when I drive back from work, I park the car in my space, number 69. Then, I hurry to get to the lift before any neighbour who might be parking near does. I press the lift button, and as soon as the door opens, I get into it quickly. I press the button for the third floor -my floor- pleased with myself because I have won the race against my neighbour. I do not feeling like sharing my space in the lift with anyone else at the end of a working day; and I do not feeling like doing the journey with anyone else, having to say ‘good evening’, talk about the weather or ask what floor they are going to.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am very sociable really, but I do not enjoy this business of getting on with neighbours. I do not like people trying to be overly friendly with me just because we have some space in common; people who may use the excuse of seeing my new boiler or inspecting the dividing wall between us to satisfy their curiosity about me.

The reason for that is very simple: I refuse to accept the idea that one fine day someone could listen to my early morning conversations, heated arguments or affectionate reconciliations through the bedroom wall when I'm not alone, or that they should see my home in a mess overflowing with junk; this home of mine where all the furniture has either been lent or comes from outlet shops and flea markets.

Anyway… back to the lady next door: she moved out two months ago. Obviously, after our awful diplomatic record, she didn’t even say goodbye to me when she left. The next thing I knew was that I had two new neighbours. It couldn’t be worse than it had been before with the neighbour lady -pretending we hadn’t seen each other every time we met at the doorway-.

Last week, in the middle of a warm Sandwichian night, I sat on the terrace drinking Coke and reading a book. I love to sit there sometimes, under the moon and the stars; to breathe the scent of orange and lemon blossoms in the night breeze and listen to the sound of the waves rocking the beach.

All of a sudden, my daydreams were interrupted when one of these two new neighbours jumped in the terrace. Yes, you heard me: I said ‘JUMPED’. It was a beautiful white long haired cat with impressive green glowing eyes.

I’m not a cat person, but for the sake of good neighbourliness, I stroke its hair and wondered who his owner was. That was not difficult to answer: My second new neighbour was leaning out of the balcony looking for his friend.

- Hi, my name’s Dorian. And she’s Pearl but she has already introduced herself, I think. -he said-
- Oh yes, now we’re friends. I’m Leni. Nice to meet you Dorian; that’s a very nice name, by the way.
- My mom likes a lot Oscar Wilde.
–he said smiling and blushing-
- That’s an excellent taste for literature! Especially Dorian Gray’s. –I said, smiling back-

Dorian was cool. Contrary to my normal behaviour, I showed some hospitality and asked him to join me for a drink at the terrace. He accepted.

- Excuse me but… you look familiar to me. –he said-

Jeez: My picture in the papers kissing Ed made me so famous.

- Oh, probably. There’s nothing special about me, I’m just… run-of-the-mill. –I said, playing down the importance of what he just said-
- Actually, I think I saw you in the papers last week… don't know exactly where...
- I hope you’re not a reporter.
–I asked, quite concerned-
- Oh, no, no. I’m a designer.
- That’s interesting. And what do you design?
- Clothes.

He immediately let me know he was gay. It was a bit embarrassing; not by the fact that he was gay, but because I felt as though he would be somehow showing me the limits. (Gosh, do I have such a lustful aura?).

My cellphone went.

- Hey sweety.
- Hi Ed.
- I presume you haven’t seen my motorcycle jacket, have you? But just in case… I’ve lost it, don’t know where exactly.
- I’m sorry, Ed. I haven’t seen it.
- Shit, it’s my favourite one; it’s a designer leather jacket and I always use it when I ride my bike. Probably lost forever. Never mind, babe.
- What’s the designer’s name, Ed?
- Krook McKooky.

I pulled trick no.1 out of my hat: if I had lost a jacket I loved so much and it would be so unlikely to find… I would try to buy myself another one.

- Oh, yes, there’s a Krook McKooky shop downtown. Maybe if you asked there… you could replace it with a new one. -I said-
- Nah, it’s an old design. They have a new collection now.

My first trick didn’t work at all. He was very upset. I remembered that beautiful jacket: Black leather, big pockets, sturdy zippers and straps across the chest. He looked stunning when he wore it.

Ok, trick no.1 failed; so I tried trick no.2: Since there was no way to get another genuine jacket at Krook McKooky's shop…

- Why don’t you buy yourself a new one? Maybe Hackett, Polo or Boss… just for a change? –I asked him-
- Hm… I’m picky, love. I’m very attached to my clothes and when I like something, I may wear it until it falls to pieces. Besides… I hate shopping. Or rather, I hate it when other people are shopping at the same time I am. And just in case you were wondering… you won’t drag me along to go shopping at these exclusive shops on Main Street…

Wow what a pissy mood! I tried my very last trick: gently trying to placate the situation. Normally, I have a very high success rate when I do. After all, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

- Nothing’s irreplaceable, Ed. If you want, I could go to Krooky McKooky’s shop tomorrow and ask them if they have another jacket like the one you’ve lost. Or check if there's another different one you may like.
- That’s very sweet Leni, but they don’t have it.
- Why not? Don’t give up so easily!
- Oh don’t be so unreasonably stubborn! They just don’t have it, I told you it’s an old design!
–he said, raising his voice-.
- But how can you possibly know if you don't ask?
- I JUST FUCKING KNOW!
-he shouted-
- OK! –I shouted back, putting the telephone down-.

What a stupid reason for a stupid fight. I phoned him again.

- Oh Leni… I’m very sorry…
- Don’t ever dare to shout at me again. It’s not my fault that you’ve lost your jacket. I was just trying to help.
–I said and put the telephone down-

Some guys feel so attached to their old clothes that you could give them a heart attack just by donating to charity their old creepy stuff.
I could understand his annoyance, but what got on my last freaking nerve was that he wouldn’t move his ass to get himself the new jacket, even if he liked it that much. And I’m not stubborn but a fighter: when I really want something, I go for it. With all my might.

- Sorry to be indiscrete, but I just couldn’t help listening, Leni, I think I can help you. -said Dorian, who had been listening very quiet-
- Oh really? That would be lovely!
- Krook McKooky has an outlet shop in the suburbs. Just google it and you’ll get the address. They have old designs there and many stuff. You may find that leather jacket for your friend over there.
- Thanks Dorian. I'll do it even if it's the last bloody thing I do.




"Crown of love" (Arcade Fire)

28 comments:

DONN COPPENS said...

Neighbours can either enhance or ruin your life..it's luck of the draw.
Good neighbours understand boundaries and the other type do not have a frickin clue what that entails.

When the global financial markets recover in a year or so house prices may actually revert to their actual value..which would be proportional to average incomes.

What we need is a universal refusal from the proletariat to keep takin' it! We need to stand our ground and demand some respect.

Why we've let the "Man" get away with so much, for so long, is beyond me?

stall #69 eh?
;)

Esperando la carroza... said...

Hi, I am from Argentina, so I cannot understand that story, because my Enghish is a little bad!But I liked the first paragraph when you told us about your dream!
Good luck!!!

Leni Qinan said...

Hey Donn!

We totally agree on neighbours. Too many people in such a small place can be bumping all the time.

About financials: housing prices in the Sandwich Islands started losing momentum last year –they were unreasonably high, still are-.

Thank gawd you’re optimistic enough as to envisage the financial markets recovery –Europe is still trembling with fear when words like ‘stock exchange’, ‘deposits’ guarantee’, ‘recession’ or ‘mortgages’ are pronounced.

As a plebian, egalitarian, not politicized prolo, I definitely second your proletariat battle. Things would be a lot better just if some material differences would disappear, don't you think?

Yeah, stall 69, you noticed! Hahaha –that’s my favourite number, also in my cellphone (*falls off her chair laughing*)
;))

Leni Qinan said...

Hola Carrocita:

Bienvenida a este blog y muchas gracias por tu visita. Si quieres leer el resto de la historia, puedes usar el botón del traductor de Google que hay en la columna de la izquierda, hacia abajo –la traducción no será perfecta, pero algo es algo-.
Y felicidades por tu inglés (no es tan bad y lo que importa y da resultados es el esfuerzo). Vuelve cuando quieras y serás bien recibida.

Leni Qinan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leni Qinan said...

TRANSLATION LENI/ESPERANDO LA CARROZA:

Hi Carrocita:
Welcome to this blog and thanks for your visit.

If you want to read the rest of the story, you can always use the Google translator button on the left column -it won't be perfect, but it's better than nothing-

Congrats on your English (it's not that bad. The effort is what counts to improve it).

Come back someday, you'll be always welcome.

INNER VOICES said...

ouch... i know what it feels like to be on both sides of that story... good on you for putting your foot down, congrats on what seems to be a cool neighbor so far!!

Leni Qinan said...

Hey Voices!

Well, I'm not exactly the kind to put my foot down very often. I always try to be accomodating toward people to avoid disputes... but there's a limit for that. And that's when I put my foot down, lol.

Neighbours can be a pain in the neck sometimes, but my new neighbours look fine. Thanks!

Take care!

Crabtree said...

Ho ! que vois-je ?...la maison de pain d'épice (de DWYER-JOYCE ALICE)
Tien ! Ce félin a des yeux de la mème couleur que moi !
J'ai troqué une vie citadine pleine de gens qui ne vous regardent même pas !Pas un sourire , pas un bonjour ?
Pour une petite maison où les voisins sont accueillant , le cui-cui! et toutes sortes de chants mélodieux ,ces voisins s'invitent à la même table chaque jour , fauvettes ,mésanges ( charbonnière,bleue),rouge gorge ,chardonnerets appelé aussi l'élégant .
Et bien entendu l'oiseau d'Aphrodite " la colombe " Elle représente la sublimation de l'instinct, spécifiquement de l'Eros ...
"symbole de pureté, de simplicité, de paix, d'harmonie, d'espoir et de bonheur"

Ghost Particle said...

LENI!

:)

another fine read. the interaction of characters, i can never do it. but you do it at ease. :)

hugs.

how r u?

sage said...

I love the way your stories wind around... when I lived out in the desert, there were high windows on the south wall of the bedroom. At night, when the moon was full, it would shine in and I'd dream all kinds of stuff.

tom909 said...

I once lived in a villaage where we all used to go into our neigbours house's any time we liked - I now live out in the country - aand never go near my neighbours. It's a kind of unspoken agreement that we don't get involved - it works well.
As times goes by I get even more unsociable grrrrrrrrrr I want to be on my own in my own little world, with no one bugging me, ever!
xxx

moonlover said...

Hi Leni, love the story
I picture my home just as you!

also love the song, I'll go on google it,

kiss,
moon

Leni Qinan said...

Bonjour Crabtree,

Bien sûr, ma maison parfaite serait pareille à celle de la photo. Comfortable, intime, douillette. Pas de luxes, seulement un joli réfuge et mon royaume. (Et il faut que je cherche les livres d’Alice Dwyer Joyce, je suis très curieuse. Toute référence qui vienne de vous mérite être regardée avec attention. Je vous ferai savoir les résultats de ma recherche).

La vie en ville c’est completement fou. C’est joli la changer pour une petite maison à la campagne et avoir une vie plus calme et relaxée. Et ça doit être très beau d'écouter tous ces jolis oiseaux les matins...

Mais j’aime aller à toute vitesse et faire la bringue ;))

Les voisins parfois peuvent être très accueillants, mais on se renferme trop dans les quatre murs ou on habite. Il faut aller discuter avec les gens…

Bon weekend (*vous fais un gros bisous*)

Leni Qinan said...

TRANSLATION CRABTREE/LENI:

Crabtree said…

Wow! What do I see? Alice Dwyer-Joyce’s ‘Gingerbread house’?
Yay! That cat’s eyes are the same colour as mine!

I changed my urban life with all that people who won’t even look at me! Not even a smile or a ‘good morning’, for a small house where neighbours are so nice and I can hear all kinds of birds singing (pine warblers, blue tit, red goldfinch –also called elegant-

And of course, the dove –also called Aphrodite’s bird-, representing instinct sublimation, specifically the erotic one…
“purity, simplicity, peace, harmony, hope and good luck symbol”



Good morning Crabtree!

That’s right, my ideal house would be similar to the one in the pic.
Comfortable, intimate and cosy. No luxuries, just a nice refuge and my kingdom (And I need to look up for Alice Dwyer Joyce’s books, I’m very curious. Any reference coming from you deserves to be thoroughly considered. I will let you know about the results of my research).

Life in the city is totally crazy. It’s nice that you changed it for a small house in the country, in order to have a more calm and relaxed life. It must be very nice to listen to all those birds in the mornings...

But I like the lifestyle (going fast and having fun) ;))

Neighbours can be very nice sometimes, but we tend to stay locked into the walls of the house we live in. We should go out and mix with other people…

Have a nice weekend (*sends a big kiss*)

PS.- Are your eyes the same colour that my neighbour’s cat’s eyes? Really? You could mesmerise me then…

Leni Qinan said...

Hey Ghosty!

Thanks for your nice comment! I love interaction of characters –you don’t know how much I like it- the story could write itself just letting interactions grow.

I love your style as well –introspection is very likeable too, and you write it very nicely, I enjoy it big time-

I’m fine, thanks and I hope you are too ((I got your invite but for some reason, cannot visit your other blog and I’d love to. What can I do? Could you pls email me about it? Thnx))

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Sage, welcome back!

Thanks for your nice words -it's an honour to read that, coming from you :)-

You lived in the desert?? Wow, that sounds amazing! –I know you must have so many stories to tell about your experiences-.

The night, the moon and the stars are always so inspirational. Plenty of things could happen under their spell, don't you think so? ;)

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Tom!

I second you. Some people should know the limits between being friendly and interfering in someone else’s privacy –it happens at home, at work, and also with neighbours-. It’s a matter of respect, I think, and of being thoughtful.

But if you do this, some people who tend to socialise collectively, may take it as an offence -and they really shouldn’t, but if you don’t do the same things they do, then you’re an outcast!-. But to be honest, I don't give a sh*t.

I get your point, I also like my personal privacy and to enjoy some loneliness sometimes –and am very picky about it-. Those who are fond of tags would call it ‘being such an individualist’.

Ok, Tom, we’re two of those, but remember: our little worlds can be as big and wonderful as we want them to be, and we’re entitled not to be disturbed when we’re there. ;)

Big kiss.

Leni Qinan said...

Hello Moon! Nice to see you again here!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a house like in the fairytales? Maybe I’m a bit of a daydreamer, but I know you understand me.

The Arcade Fire are great. One of my commenters shared some songs with me and I liked them on the spot (just youtube them and you’ll get all their hits. My favourites are ‘Cold rain’ and ‘Black mirror’. They also have a nice website: www.arcadefire.com

Beijos. ;)

Leni Qinan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
max said...

Hey Leni, I changed my well paid job and posh flat in the city for a farm in Orsinia and all I can say is I'm very happy as a farmer. Things were getting a bit crazy in the city.

Just one little thing: Don't let anyone speak to you like Ed did -it's just not fair. That Johny Depp-like rich guy should show some more respect-.

Anyway, you showed him the limits. I hope he got the message.

Take care!

(sorry, I deleted the previous comment (too many typos).

Crabtree said...

Leni , (*mon clin d'oeil*)

Un petit tour au pays des merveilles !!
Toujours présent :)

J'ai regardé " arcadefire " très joli !

"vous fais un gros bisous"

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Maxi!

I'm glad that you love your new life as a farmer. I never thought you could do that.

I like the city, I'm full of energy and i like to have fun.

Thanks for your support with Ed. I think he got the message (he feels sorry). He was just a bit upset, that's all. But I agree with you: people have to show their limits.

I hope things get better soon.

XXX.

Leni Qinan said...

Bonjour Crabtree,(*mon clin d'oeil aussi*)

C'est merveilleux jouer Alice au pays des merveilles quelquefois!

Au sujet du video d'Arcade Fire: J'aime bien partager ça, ils ont de très jolies chansons et celle-ci demande du pardon 'if you still want me, please forgive me'

Bisous câlins.

Leni Qinan said...

TRANSLATION CRABTREE/LENI:

Crabtree said...

Leni (*winks*)
A little tour in Wonderland!
Always present.
I saw "Arcade Fire" and I loved it!

"Big kiss"


Hi Crabtree,(*winks back*)
It's wonderful to play Alice in Wonderland sometimes!

About Arcade Fire's video: I like to share this with you, they have very nice songs and this one is about pardon: 'if you still want me, please forgive me'

Kiss+hug

Grass said...

Same goes with me. I put an invisible wall between me and my neighbors especially after I slipped on a piece of soap in our bathroom, screamed like a banshee and disturbed the tranquility in my place. LOL

Wow, Picture of Dorian Gay. LOL It must be nice to have a gay neighbor who designs. maybe you can ask him to do your shirts. :D I have gay friends and they're the coolest lot! As I've read your post after this, Dorian seems to be your angel at the moment :D

Hmmm, some men are like that. They get atttached easily with their stuffs especially guys like Ed who obviously buy riciculously overpriced designer clothes. Thank God my boyfriend is not like that. I can easily destroy his favorite shirts just by attempting to wash them!! LOL


xxx

Nahuatl said...

- But how can you possibly know if you don't ask?
Damn.. why does it sound so familiar?!!

Believe me Leni, guys do have ways to 'know' even if they don't actually. That statement could piss me off too.. and I think I have heard it. :) Just a typical male/female conversation! :D

Nahuatl said...

I love those green eyes :)