THE GOOD, THE BAD
AND THE NUANCED
Stan Herschfield paced his apartment at 3 a.m., waking up the tenants below. I asked Herschfield to ease up, and he said, “What do you want from me? I can’t fly.”
He moved out shortly after that.
About 10 years later, he called. “Stratton, you remember me — Herschfield. I want to move back in.”
“Herschfield!” I said, emoting like I was in a bad JCC play. “You painted the floor. You complained about the deaf guy across the hall blasting organ music. You complained about the people below you fornicating. You skipped out on your final month’s rent. It cost me fifty dollars to clean the place. But you did teach me some good Yiddish words.”
“I didn’t skip! Those yentzers below, they drove me out!”
“You painted the kitchen floor.”
I didn’t let him back.
Maybe Herschfield didn’t say yentzers. Maybe he said shtuppers. I only caught a fraction of his Yiddish. He talked so fast.
I’ve had a couple former tenants move back in. Usually not into the same suite, but often into the same building.
I save old records on tenants. F. Scott Fitzgerald said bookkeeping is not a sexy subject, but it is moderately interesting. I wish I hadn’t thrown out my dad’s tax returns; they would make fascinating reading now I’m older and into nuance.
I keep dossiers on ex-tenants. Nothing personal, no nude posture photos like those Ivy League colleges did. Just notes on whether the tenant paid his final month’s rent, turned in his keys and didn’t trash the place. If all’s well, I’ll let him back. Could be a decade later.
The good tenants, you don’t remember. You have to look them up.
This post was a vid first, 4/5/12. Features Alan Douglass singing “Dear Landlord.”
Yiddishe Cup is at KlezmerPalooza at The Temple, Beachwood, Ohio, 7:30 p.m. Sat., Nov. 16. $20, or $15 if you buy by Nov. 9. Call 216-831-3233. Free dessert, beer and wine.
A new vid, “You wouldn’t believe the derelicts . . . “ Forty-five seconds of real estate talk: