Ear Today, Goin' Tomorrow
I’m home. I should be on a plane right now, headed for Paris. But I’m not going.
I’m okay with it. I have to be. Doctor’s orders.
Well, not quite orders. “Strong suggestion.”
“Give it more time, Liz. Another round of steroids and your hearing should be back to normal. A few more weeks, and it will be safer to fly.” I got the message loud and clear: “Just do it.”
It reminded me of a buyer I once worked with, back in the 90’s. I was in my office when a call came in.
“Hi,” the voice on the other end said. “My name is Elizabeth.”
“So is mine,” I said “With an ‘s’”.
“I know that. What do you prefer being called?”
“Liz,” I said. “What about you?”
She laughed. “How about Cutie?”
“Okay,” I said, thinking it might be fun to work with her.
“I was planning to travel this week,” she said. “To Paris. But I canceled.”
Cancel a trip to Paris? I couldn’t imagine.
“That’s too bad,” I said. “Why?”
“I need to find an apartment. Lawyer’s orders.”
“Really,” I said.
“Well, not quite orders,” she said. “Strong suggestion.”
We met for lunch to discuss her needs. She was in her mid-thirties, slender, with long dark curly hair and an engaging smile.
“I have a trust fund,” she said. “And I have been advised to buy an apartment before the market turns. Five hundred thousand. That’s what I can spend. I need below 14th and something with character.”
It was an interesting time for New York’s downtown real estate market. We were like the poor country cousins to Uptown. Throughout the recession Uptown had large sales, with hefty commissions. Downtown had few places to match, until the multitude of large loft conversions began to hit the market. As prices rose, units sold quickly, and were re-sold, and re-sold again, almost always at a great profit. But we were not there yet.
Therefore, Cutie’s lawyer had timed her search well.
“Five hundred thousand,” I said. “We’ll find you something.”
We looked at a dozen places, but none of them appealed to her.
I took her to a duplex just east of 2nd Avenue. “I love the look of this building,” she said. “Do you know anything about it?”
“Oh, it’s High Victorian Gothic,” I said, as casually as I might have said, “the sky is blue.”
“Ha!” she said. “You just happen to know that?”
I looked at her and smiled. “Sure do, Cutie. It was built to be a refuge for girls from abusive homes. I think it was also a school.”
“I like this place even more now,” she said.
We walked up half a dozen steps to the front door, and entered the apartment. She walked around. It was spacious, with high ceilings, and had a solid staircase to the lower level.
“It feels like a home,” she said. “How much is it?”
“Considerably less than your budget,” I said. “And there’s something else.”
“Originally it was called the Elizabeth Home for Girls.”
“You are kidding me!” she said.
“No, Cutie, I am not.”
“Liz,” she said, “this is meant to be, obviously. Talk to my lawyer. He’s not too impossible. Make it work, so I can take my trip.”
And now, tonight, as I sit in my apartment instead of on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic, I remember her clearly, and how easily she had been able to switch gears.
Taking care of business. That’s what she did.
That’s what I’m doing. Taking care of business, a second dose of steroids.
Cutie bought an apartment. I’m buying time for my ears to heal, so I can take my trip.
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