Last night, I had an appointment to show my rental property to a 20-something medical student named Suleman. We’d spoken on the phone, and I guess I thought he was Indian perhaps. When he got out of the car, however, he looked like the grown version of the male rapist from The Kite Runner (which I’d watched on DVD the night before). Dark skin; long and thick beard. He had an attractive Persian-looking wife with him whom I was afraid to look at, and his mother-in-law came. She said it smelled like mold. I assured her there was no mold and that I’d just painted. Everyone knows fresh paint and mold smell just alike.
As they walk up, I don’t know if I’m supposed to shake hands or give the dual pecks or bow or what. So I stand there like an adolescent kid with a cold does when he meets one of his father’s friends and is consequently afraid to shake hands but still feels some sort of formal greeting is owed. I’m certain this makes me look quite like a douche bag.
When I showed him the washer/dryer combination, he mentioned to his mother-in-law that he saw similar machines in college in Pakistan. I’m thinking about how my condo is in the general area of town where several of the 9/11 hijackers took flying lessons and blew off steam at a strip club down the road right before the Big Flight, and I’m remembering the fact that I have a military license plate on the back of my car and an Air Force base sticker on my front windshield, and I’m thinking there’s no way this guy is going to become my tenant, because he hates me and thinks I’m an infidel and may well know that I’ve been to Iraq twice and deserve to live with Satan as penance.
Then I showed him the attic door and talked about its storage capacity, saying, “Yeah, I used to keep a bike up here, extra boxes, Christ-I mean-holiday decorations–or you know, seasonal stuff can fit up there, if you’re into that…like, you know, Ramadan…” He looked at me. My periphery seemed to reveal his wife’s smiling at my bumbling, but again, I was scared to address her, so I didn’t look closely. I’m thinking I can’t believe I referenced Ramadan decorations and how they’d fit in the attic. I need to find a stationary object on which to bang my head like Dobby the house elf. I’m now positive that I’ve lost a potential customer and am picturing the protagonist in The Kite Runner getting the hell beat out of him and am wondering how I’d look with black eyes and no teeth.
The trio walk away. I stay inside until they’ve driven off and then make sure to leave in the opposite direction. I pick up some Indian takeout to try and assuage my feelings of utter foolishness, knowing full well that an endorsement of India is an endorsement of Pakistan, right? Atoned and happy, I go home and research the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act.
*update: Suleman wrote me to say he found another property that “better met his needs.” Big surprise.
For other self-deprecating bloggers with no semblance of sophistication, check out these funny blogs!