The thing about our landlady is that she’s one of those old school people who never evolved past the Soviet Union – and thinks she’s the shit because her husband (who, to be fair, is a nice old man) is a retired army colonel. And because they have a dacha. Or something like that.
She views me as a scary mongrel, because I speak Russian but somehow have American citizenship and because we currently sleep on a mattress on the floor (having blown *a lot* of money on an orthopedic mattress back in the day, we haven’t exactly been keen on getting a proper bed). She’s not shy about expressing those views either, as she stares at me through enormous glasses that make her look like a not-very-adorable chipmunk. You’d think that a woman who has two grown kids of her own would know better than to harass a hugely pregnant chick – but no.
She overcharged us for the water last month, and when I tried to point it out, she told me that I “have issues.” This month, she admitted her error, but went on to insist that it was somehow my fault. Naturally, my husband was away on an audition, which was precisely the time she decided she needed to show up.
“You wouldn’t let me calculate the water bill properly!” She accosted me as soon as she stepped inside.
“Um, with all due respect – I sat there with you for an hour and a half, trying to tell you that there was a problem with it.”
“The problem is with you!”
Talking to the woman is like having a conversation with Mt. Everest, if Mt. Everest smelled bad and came crowned with a weird, bun-like hairdo that looked like a potato were growing on its head.
Today, while batshit landlady was sitting in the kitchen being batshit, my boss called me. We spoke for maybe 2 minutes, but we spoke in English, which was Frowned Upon.
“They think they’re so clever, speaking their foreign languages, but they’re not clever enough to CALCULATE THE WATER BILL!” She spoke to the picture of my great-aunt that I keep tacked up on the fridge.
I pretended as though I didn’t hear her.
Suddenly, she was squinting at the picture.
“Who is this?” She asked.
“She’s not wearing a shirt!”
“Uh, yeah, as you can tell – she was a very beautiful woman.”
“Was she also foreign?!”
“Actually, she’s the daughter of a famous Soviet general, she worked for the UN, and she was a veteran.”
“The daughter of a general?!”
“We have a lot of generals in our family,” I said grandly. Which is sort of true, if two is a lot for a pretty small family (my mother’s, to be precise) but not something I tend to press on people, unless they happen to be wildly impressed by rank.
This revelation shut her up for a while, but she wasn’t about to leave without a parting shot.
“Is Alexey Nikolayevich [my husband she always refers to with respect, using both his name and patronymic] back in Moscow yet?”
“Good. I was starting to worry. You have a lot of strange guests around here,” she said in an accusatory tone, implying, I guess, that I’ve been cheating on my husband in the 8th month of pregnancy, or whatever.
The only guest I’ve had over lately has been a colleague of mine. Sometimes, delivery guys drop by with pizzas. One, a friend’s son came to pick up an external hard drive. But I guess I don’t need to do a whole lot to convince this horrible woman I’m a slut – I’m 26 and I wear make-up and little sundresses that look shorter on me now, due to the belly.
I’m much more creeped out by her implication that she tries to keep tabs on who visits us – undoubtedly by talking to the next-door neighbours. Or else she’s just making stuff up, which would be like her.
She left the apartment with overly large wad of cash we pay her every month, complaining loudly about how I “should not be allowed” to insinuate that she had ripped me off on purpose last month. Which is something I’ve never actually insinuated – she’s not a thief, she’s just kinda stupid and can’t count worth a damn and gets rude and defensive when you try to point that she’s multiplying the numbers all wrong.
I have a feeling she’ll try to evict us as soon as the baby is born. I mean, the woman gets horribly insulted when she forgets to give us the telephone bill – but then insists we somehow didn’t pay iton purpose.
“You didn’t pay the telephone bill!”
“You were supposed to give it to us, remember…?”
“You didn’t pay it!”
“How can we pay it if we don’t have the bill?”
“You needed to pay it!”
The Mt. Everest comparison is probably way too cool for this woman. I’m thinking of a brick wall in an old Victorian insane asylum just now.
I get it that so many people have it so much worse. Some end up renting from alcoholics who end up stealing their stuff, others end up renting from alcoholics who end up coming around every other day and asking for an “advance” on the rent, yet others end up renting from alcoholics who get them in trouble with the cops… but it’s my blog and I cry if I want to.