Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lessons from Our Elder Down the Hall

Every small town has at least one eccentric character known to all. Our town’s character also happens to be our landlord. As mentioned in earlier posts, she’s advanced in age, lonely, and means well, but sometimes…well, sometimes we just wish we could change our address. Martello first encountered our “Mrs. Furley” during his September premiere here, while awaiting the bus to the office. As Martello soon learned, each morning Mrs. Furley eagerly chats up the gathered young people (her adopted grandchildren, perhaps) with her thorough English, though they tend to see her and some of her pronouncements as well, eccentric. When Martello put two and two together and figured out that she was going to be our landlord, he considered reneging on the contract and going back to the original studio-style apartment that we first stayed in during the September visit. However, Trofie Wife insisted that we retain the larger place with extra bedroom—we’re pretty sure that our incoming guests will prefer the private room down the hall to the Murphy beds across the way from the master bed. In addition to checking in with Martello each morning, Mrs. Furley is certain to drop by at least once a week to monitor Trofie Wife (whom she has taken a particular liking to, due to our shared birth date—which we apparently also share with her late husband).  

On Wednesday, after Trofie Wife finally got around to telling Mrs. Furley about the broken shutter opener/closer in the kitchen, she dropped by with her reliable (and long-retired) workman. (I felt a little bad that this guy was crouched over on our floor when he seemed like he should have been lounging somewhere, but I guess it’s good to keep active if you can.) While he worked on the mechanism (and continued to work even after insisting that he needed a new part and would have to return tomorrow—Mrs. Furley’s, uh, persistence required that he continue trying to fix it with the materials on hand), Mrs. Furley shared some stories about her life and how she came to be proficient in so many languages. It seems like she’s had a tough go of it, being born between the two wars and likely seeing some horrible things on soil here and other parts of Europe (though we sometimes wonder about her family’s allegiances during the war…), and she doesn’t seem to have much—if any— family left (or at least nearby). She also nosily poked through the stuff on our dining room table and insisted that we cut some branches from the lovely tree outside our window (“Ouch!” said the tree) for Christmastime luck. Not soon enough, the Wizened Workman managed to fix the pulley with the parts on hand—I guess that’s one vote for Mrs. F’s style of squeaky wheelism. She left shortly thereafter the fix was complete, and it wasn’t a moment too soon!

And now, for your benefit, Trofie Wife will pass along some wise words from our ever-eager-to-help landlady, which you, too, may find useful in your everyday encounters:

1. Trust no one. Especially in these times.

2. Don’t eat too much fish; it’s all water. Eat meat. That way you won’t be too          thin like Martello.

3. Do not open the door for anyone—except me.

4. If you’re not going to eat meat, take vitamins daily.

5. Do not open the door for anyone, especially Communists selling newspapers.

6. Don’t use so many lights! Even when you need them…

7. Only put up Christmas decorations if your neighbor does.

8. Avoid stupid and ill-bred persons. 

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

No comments: