I recall one time hearing an aquaintance of mine comment upon the “weirdos” that one often sees when one takes public transit. “The scary thing,” she said, “is that, statistically, there’s no reason to assume that the people who drive cars to work are any saner.”
Personally, I think that that’s not necessarily true; it seems like the closer that one hues to what is considered to be “reasonable social behaviour,” the more likely that one will be get a well-paying job and thus to be able to afford a car. But I now suspect that this effect, if it exists at all, must be fairly insignificant. You see, the troublesome necessity of renting places to live has allowed me to get “up close and personal” with a number of outwardly respectable adults (my landlords), and from that perspective…well…
My first landlady was a hoarder. I probably shouldn’t be making armchair diagnoses, but frankly, she owned the filthiest house that I have ever seen. Every square inch of the property, inside and outside, was covered in worthless junk, often overgrown with local flora, making the yard look like some sort of post-apocalyptic vista. It is a rare and special thing for my room to be (by far) the cleanest room in the house, but there you have it. Everytime she ,et me in the yard, she would gasp in shock as if I had frightened her half to death, before regaining her composure, breathing relievedly and saying “Oh, it’s just you.” In fairness to her, I do move very silently, but the first time I met her I actually came away with the bizarre feeling that I had walked into a Miyazaki movie and she was the kindly/eccentric old witch.
By comparison, my present landlady seemed, initially, almost painfully normal. She, her husband, and their one-and-half children seemed almost the picture of suburban, Yuppie living. However, yesterday Nominatissima and I asked her to come look at a broken toilet seat. During this time, she apparently saw a spent match lying on the bathroom floor*. She didn’t say anything at the time, but this morning, she sent us both a lengthy, extremely passive-aggressive and somewhat condescending e-mai, outlining how we should be using matches very carefully, because this was her home, and if we didn’t use them responsibly, it could result in injury or destruction of property. Now, I suppose that it’s reasonable to worry that your tenants might accidentally burn down your house, but for crying out loud, it was a single match, and what’s more, she is our landlady, not our nanny. The whole thing strikes me as rather neurotic.
But I suppose I should be counting my blessings; from what I’ve heard, other people’s landlords have been much worse. We are currently allowing a friend to sleep on our couch through the end of February because his former landlord broke into his house one night and tried to attack him. Another friend pulled out of her lease agreement because her landlady was an obsessive control freak who tried to dominate her every action.
I’m not sure whether it’s just some sort of emotional attachment to one’s property or what, but can anyone honestly say that they have rented a room from someone whose sanity they didn’t question?
*We keep matches next to the toilet so that they can be used to “clear the air,” if you catch my drift.