The Loveliness of the Long Distance Runner
My air conditioner sucks, and it has from day one. Okay, maybe day two. Every few years we bought a new one because all of them sucked.
I know. It’s summer. It’s hot. It’s supposed to be hot, but there’s a heat wave in the city and inside my apartment I feel like I’m in a furnace.
It’s not all bad. My left elbow is comfortably cool. That is because my Design Within Reach red leather recliner is located practically on top of the a/c and my left elbow is up close to the vents.
I love this chair so much. I bought it for my husband but it fits me better.
I will try to have my positive feelings for the chair negate the bad feelings I have for my air conditioner.
Nice thoughts. Here goes:
Cool stream. Watermelon. Mango sorbet. Floors.
The gorgeous floors in my apartment.
Hardwood, pickled white by the previous owner.
These positive thoughts are working. I am now recalling other floors I once thought exceptional.
I had been the selling broker for a loft in the mid-teens. The owners ran a business, I forget what, but they were artists at heart. They had hand-painted parts of the floor to look like rugs, and would only sell to a buyer who promised to keep the floors as is.
The long, narrow hallway had a runner painted on the worn wooden floor. It covered most of the hallway with an Aztec design. It had shades of red, yellow, purple, and green, with a border of burnt sienna and black, and it seemed to go on forever. It was bold and beautiful.
The hallway led to the living room on one end of the loft. Its floor was partially covered with Oriental rugs of varying size and quality. Actual rugs, thrown with seeming abandon over the large room.
At the other end of the hallway were three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Each bedroom had its own individual carpet painted on the old hardwood floors, wall to wall and meticulously done.
But it was the runner that had grabbed my attention, and that I envision even now, years later. To me back then, it was everything floor art could be.
I showed this loft many times, and everyone remarked on the floors. Most people loved them as I did. Others, not so much.
“Why would anyone paint over these gorgeous old floors?”
“Don’t people have better things to do?”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake.”
The customers who loved the painted floors loved them so much that at first they overlooked the outdated kitchen and the cracked tiles and signs of water damage in the master bathroom.
At first. By the second or third visit there was a lot of:
“The kitchen is outdated. The bathrooms are horrible.”
“The bathrooms are outdated. The kitchen is horrible.”
“There are no views to speak of.”
“The building is shabby.”
“I’m not really crazy about the location.”
So by the time I finally brought someone interested enough to make a decent offer, someone who would qualify for a mortgage and easily pass the co-op board, I expected my sellers would be eager to give a reasonable counter-offer.
I called the husband at work.
“Oh, Liz. Hi. Now’s not a good time to talk. I’ll get back to you.”
He didn’t, so the next morning I called him again.
“I’m sorry, Liz. I’m in a meeting. Let’s talk this evening.”
I called them at home that evening.
“Hi,” I said when the wife picked up.
“Oh, Liz. Wait a minute. I’ll get my husband.”
I don’t know where she had to get him from, but it took longer than it should have.
“Okay, Liz, now we’re both here. On speakerphone.”
“Yes, we’re both here.”
I waited for one of them to say something else. One of them didn’t. Neither did the other.
“Are you guys still there?” I asked.
“Do you have a counter for me?” I asked.
Again I waited for one of them to say something, and again one of them didn’t. Neither did the other.
“The buyer is extremely qualified,” I said. “He makes a zillion dollars. He’s ready to do a deal, and he said to tell you he would never get rid of your painted floors, because he loves them.”
“So do we, Liz.”
“Yes, so do we. We love our floors.”
“So do I,” I said. “They’re lovely. Do you have a counter-offer? You know this is the first solid offer we’ve received in the six months I’ve been marketing your home.”
“Well,” the wife said, and then she said nothing for a while, until: “we’ve decided to stay put.”
“Yes, Liz. We’re staying put. Home sweet home and all that.”
“Excuse me?” I said.
“We’re not going to sell.”
“That’s right. We’re not going to sell.”
What the hell! Parrots. I was dealing with parrots.
“We’ll never have the energy to create floors like this again.”
“My wife is right, Liz. We’ll never have such energy again.”
“We put our hearts and souls into these floors.”
“Our hearts and our souls. The flower garden alone, on our daughter’s floor. You have no idea…”
“Yes, I do.” I said. I had an idea, all right.
They had told me at least a dozen times how much heart and soul had gone into the painting of their floors. They had also told me at least a dozen times how ready they were to move on to a new project in a larger home.
“So take the loft off the market,” he said.
“Yes, please take it off the market,” she said. “Bye now.”
They hung up.
I was floored.
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