Posts Tagged ‘garfield realty’

Founders Night

December 27, 2018


I’ve been holding on by my fingernails to keep my connection with the real estate office formerly and currently known as Garfield Realty. That office has proven an oasis in the desert in this land of re . .  retir . . retirement.  Among the percs of that relationship is my friendships with a number of the people who work there. Which is why I (along with Lebasi) was invited to a holiday party being thrown by a stalwart of the office, Luap#2, and his wife, Laura.

So last weekend I put on my better jeans, picked up Lebasi and headed over to Luap#2’s house. On our way, we made a quick stop to pick up a bottle of wine to take with us. I double-parked while Lebasi went into the wine store.  When she got back to the car she expressed some concern that what she had bought was not a good enough bottle to show up with.  I assured her that I thought it was certainly a nice enough wine and besides, why would it matter. To which she said, “But they’re Italian!”

I didn’t know how to take that. I asked if she was worried that they were going to break our legs for showing up with an inferior red. She set me straight by explaining that she thought that Luap#2 and his wife might be wine aficionados and would be put off by the $1.99 bottle we were bringing.

It turns out there was nothing to worry about because it was crowded as we arrived and we played three card monte with our bottle and a few others that were already there. For all I know, someone else at the party took the “hit” and has already been thrown off a dock wearing cement boots.

I didn’t know many of the other guests but Luap#2 was nice enough to introduce me to some of the them; unfortunately, as part of the introduction he referred to me as the founder of Garfield Realty.  If I hadn’t already been feeling older than everyone there, that pretty much clinched it. Maybe it’s just me but that word “founder” just conjures up figures like Washington, Franklin, Jefferson et al.  Nothing like the guys who “started” Facebook or Twitter.

I found myself chatting up a nice, interesting couple who were friends of Laura’s. After a bit, and needless to say, the conversation turned towards real estate. I write, “needless to say” because that topic has been the staple of almost every cocktail and other kind of party I’ve been to over the last twenty years. Which to be honest, bores me. (I tried to explain this once to Luap#1 — until Luap#2 came on the scene, he was known simply as, Luap — by describing it as, a “busman’s holiday”.  This drew a blank. And since Luap has always been my EverymanI realized that it must be an expression that has lost its currency.)

So I drifted away from my new-found friends and moved towards the food table. I eyed some shrimp on the far side and reached across some other guests while apologizing for my “boarding house reach.”  As they looked at me with the same blank stare that Luap had, I realized at that moment that maybe it wasn’t an expression, but rather I who had lost currency; that as much as I won’t claim it, I may, indeed, be the founder I don’t want to be.







Before The Fall

May 31, 2018


(Real) Estate Planning

The other day, I stopped in at the office presently and formerly known as Garfield Realty. This has been happening a lot less often which I now realize may have something to do with the infrequency of my blog posts, a situation that is close to becoming epidemic.

When I went into the office I was greeted by Luap and his two sons, Everett and Gus. The younger of the two, Gus, looked about the same age as my grandson, Rex, so I asked him how old he was. He said, rather proudly, that he was four years old. I asked when he had turned four to which he answered, “On my birthday.”  Apparently, the kid is every bit the smart-ass his father is.  I followed up by saying that I couldn’t wait to turn four also.  He explained to me that grownups can’t turn four because “you have to be three before you can turn four.”  See what I mean?

But even more fun and interesting was the presence in the office of a woman Luap was meeting with who, it turns out, is a founder of a seniors organization in Park Slope that arranges group activities.  Luap had mentioned this outfit to me a few weeks ago.  Why, I can’t imagine. He introduced us and despite my long-term absence from the world of normal civil discourse, I was able ask her a bit about the organization. Almost as if I was getting some information to pass on to my parents.

Luap asked what events she had coming up and this is when it got really interesting.  She said that early in June her group would be having a meet-up to discuss funeral planning. I must have made the face that I use for things that I can’t fathom because she quickly added that there would be a free lunch at that meeting.

Luap #2 (or #3)–there are a lot of Luaps at Garfield Realty—- was also in the office and was sitting near to me. When I heard the suggestion that the funeral planning would include lunch, I leaned toward #2 and remarked, sotto voce, that they’d have to do a lot better than that to get me there. The woman continued that later in June there would be a meeting to discuss “fall prevention.”  Again, I whispered to #2, “how can you hold back an entire season?”  After he made the face he uses when he can’t fathom something, I realized she wasn’t making an autumnal reference. Then I launched into an internal tirade about how I had just finished up biking back from the tennis courts after playing for a few hours and why would anyone in there right mind think that I had to worry about falling and who did she thing she was talking to  . . . and . . . and . . .   Clearly, she had touched a nerve.

Maybe this is an indication that visiting my old office is not all it’s cracked up to be.  And then again, there’s that steep set of stairs getting in and out.  Seems kind of risky.  A person could take a terrible fall.  Maybe Luap should look into installing a handrail. Or maybe two.


Hobson’s Choice

October 2, 2017

One of things I like most about writing this blog is I get to do some research and learn new things.  Or I re-learn stuff that I once knew but have forgotten.  And then, in about two weeks or so, I forget everything all over again; as a result, I’m always learning things. Very cool!  So when the situation I find myself in recently developed, I did some noodling around and was able to find the precise term that I was looking for, which is the title of this essay.

Some of you may not know what a Hobson’s Choice is.  Essentially, it is an option that’s given to someone where the alternative is so bad, it’s no choice at all. (The derivation is somewhat interesting but you can follow up that on your own.) The relevance here is that recently, a Hobson’s Choice has entered my life.

As you may remember, the new owners of the real estate office formerly and presently know as Garfield Realty, Luap and Zil, have been, ever so gradually, upending my status in my former office; moving me a little closer to the front door in incremental ways. It started with the downsizing of my desk. Not long after that, there was the indignity of placing it so that I faced a blank wall. I had mostly gotten used  to all that but now . . . now I’m being told that Garfield Realty is going to be re-branded (or so they say) and the office is being reconfigured to a place with fewer desks, none of which shall be mine. What’s being offered to me is the use of a shared conference room style desk. Now, that would be bad enough, but it’s going to be at the front of the office which means that whenever anyone comes in I would be the first person they would encounter.  In other words, I would be the OFFICIAL GREETER!!! (that’s me SCREAMING!!). Engaging in idle CHIT CHAT with whomever shows up!

If you know me at all (and why wouldn’t you want to?), you’d know that this kind of circumstance is probably the essence of every third nightmare that I have. Sometimes that nightmare includes an episode in which I’m working at the Park Slope Food Co-op where one of the jobs is to escort shoppers who are using the Co-op’s shopping carts to their home or car and then bring the cart back.  I see these twosomes all over my neighborhood, very often chatting away as if they go back to grade school together. In my dream, I’m the guy wearing the Co-op’s yellow vest walking with and making inane conversation with a total stranger. Saying the same stuff over and over with different shoppers. Sometimes there’s a variation of the dream where instead of repeating myself endlessly, I’m more or less mute as I walk the streets of my own neighborhood. Either way, I wake up in a cold sweat.

So being up front, right there by the entrance door is, I think, the real estate equivalent of walking someone home with the shopping cart. The only meaningful difference is that I won’t be wearing the yellow vest. Otherwise, just the same.  It seems that the only alternative available to me may be to set up a very small work station in the bathroom.  A Hobson’s choice if there ever was one.


Good Idea!

July 28, 2016

It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally realized it’s near impossible to get someone to change their mind . . . about almost anything.  About the best one can hope for is something along the lines of, ” yes, you’re right but …”.  My mother was a specialist in this; one of the reasons why the phrase, “banging your head against the wall” is so resonant with me.

Similarly, it’s really, really hard to get anyone to do things differently—-to find solutions in ways that vary from the approach they’re accustomed to.  It’s not so much a question of not being able to “teach old dogs new tricks” as it is the unwillingness of the “dog” to give a different approach a shot.

It’s not that I’m above this rigidity. Far from it.  I think the last suggestion of “a better way” I actually tried was about a hundred years ago when I was working as an accountant. I worked with a good friend, Warren, who was really smart.  But what I liked most about him was that he thought innovatively, looking at things from a fresh viewpoint.  At some point, Warren showed me that there was a better way to subtract numbers; which didn’t involve subtraction, at all.  Essentially, instead of “taking away” a number to get the correct result, you do addition by entering the number which, when added to the lesser number, yields the larger one.  (Of course, this discussion is rather dry and certainly not ironic but it will lead somewhere.  In other words, “you’re right but . . . .)

A few years ago, I tried to pass this technique on to Luap — you remember Luap — one of the owners of the office formerly and currently known as Garfield Realty.  This was at a time when he thought I was smart and would listen to me as if I knew what I was talking about.  But even he, even at that time, even though it was coming from me, wasn’t interested in trying a new “trick”.

A Favorite

A Favorite

This intransigence to new approaches, which it seems that we all have to some degree, made something that happened recently between me and my girlfriend, B, rather remarkable.  She was teasing me about having a night-light in my bathroom.  I explained that it wasn’t because I was afraid of the dark nor did I need it to find my way. I continued that when a number of years ago I found myself having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I realized that putting the bathroom lights on made me even more awake and made it hard to go back to sleep. Hence the use of a 4 Watt bulb.

Inadvisedly, I also told her that in many of my past relationships, I had put the gizmo in the bathroom of whomever I was involved with. That, in effect, I was kind of the Johnny Appleseed of night lights. Despite that bit of TMI, B looked at me with what I took as a new appreciation.  And then she said something I haven’t heard in a gazillion years . . .”You know, that’s a good idea; I’m going to give it a try.” Now, I  just can’t wait to show her that math thingy!

“The Trouble Begins When You Buy The Tie”

October 29, 2015

When I was growing up my father would often infuse his particular philosophies with assorted adages and aphorisms.  It wasn’t until I was grown that I realized that many of these were re-tweets; that my father had neglected to mention that often the source of these pearls was from Shakespeare or some other luminary. He wasn’t trying to deceive me or my siblings into thinking these were original; he just left that part out.

Wait...I think I have the perfect shirt!

Wait…I think I have the perfect shirt!

But, there are a goodly number that, almost certainly, he authored. One that has great meaning for me lately is, “The trouble begins when you buy the tie”.  He would go on to explain that after you got the tie, you’d have to get a shirt to match the tie, and then a suit to match the shirt, and then . . . well, you get the idea.

Recently, I decided to do a modest redecorating of my apartment. When I mentioned it in the office formerly (and currently) known as Garfield Realty, Luap and Zil generously offered to help out.  They have spent a lot of time over the last years “staging” apartments for sale and have shown an aesthetic that is similar to mine.  For starters, I found a couch we all really liked at a furniture store in my neighborhood. Not just any old couch, but a sectional with a chaise. When referring to my new couch I always add that it has a “chaise“. And each and every time I say that, for some reason I feel a piece of my manhood melting away. Funny how that happens.

Prior to getting delivery of the new couch, I donated the old one to Housing Works.  With the couch gone, and the living room more bare, I noticed the bad shape that my wood floors were in.  So of course, now I had to get the floors refinished.  In order to empty the room, I wound up giving away most of the other stuff in the living room. Having the floors redone was no small deal because my co-op acts like I’m living in Fort Knox.  Anyone who does any work in the building has to be licensed, bonded, insured, kind of good-looking, like fine dining and have a winning personality. So it’s a real pain in the ass to hire any kind of tradespeople.

But now I had a new couch (did I mention . . . it has a chaise) and a near-empty room with beautiful floors. Zil and Luap warmed to the task of refurnishing the entire place.  And with such enthusiasm that only a moron wouldn’t know that they’re leading up to a suggestion that I put it on the market once it looks as good as its ever going to.  They’re my proteges and I love them but I think this making money thing has gone to their heads.  (I often remind them that the old Garfield Realty was really a social club that happened to sell real estate.  As any anthropologist worth her salt would tell you, we were poor but happy.)

In any event, little by little my apartment has been born again.  With very, very nice stuff.  It actually looks great.  Except, now I can see how badly the walls need to be repainted.  And how the blinds that I recently installed are inconsistent with the new look and need to be replaced. And how very, very wrong all the frames on my prints are and how everything needs to be reframed. And how the flat screen TV is just not right for the room. And how my glassware just doesn’t go with the new dining table and I need to get new stuff.  And how my clothes closet just don’t measure up to the finishes of the rest of the apartment and I have to get California Closet in.  And of course . . .  how I don’t have a single decent tie in that closet.

That Old Gang Of Mine

July 22, 2015

This past weekend the real estate office formerly (and currently) known as Garfield Realty had a company barbeque in the backyard of one of the newguys, Mike.  It’s a rarity nowadays for what had been the core group of the office for so many years to get together.  But there we were; me, Luap, Zil, Knarf and even De. For a moment, I felt like I was at an Old Timer’s day at Yankee Stadium but then I realized that I’m the only one who has hung up his spikes.  And it also occurred to me, we were never ballplayers. So I guess it was closer to feeling as if I was at Disney World and was running into Minnie, Mickey and Pluto, et al.  Yes, that’s exactly what it was like.

In any event, it was very sweet, warm and fun to be together again. In fact, the good feelings and affection were so great that De, who hires himself out to sing at funerals and wakes, offered to sing at my service gratis.  I can’t tell you how touched I was.

At some point, in an irrelevant moment, I starting talking about a movie I had just seen starring Hugh Grant.  I was going on about how middle-aged and lumpy he appeared in the role he was playing. The last time I looked, Grant had been playing a callow, charming fellow who got all the girls.  And now he was cast in the role of some washed up has-been. Very upsetting.  As I think about it now, it was just another episode of me overly identifying with what looks like the rapid aging of some public figure. At least I’m not lumpy; in fact, I’m whatever the opposite of lumpy is.

It was at this point that Mike and I had a disagreement over how old, in fact, Grant is.  I insisted that he was still in his forties while Mike was sure he was in his fifties.  We argued a bit and then Mike suggested we bet on the outcome.  I agreed but said I didn’t want to bet money.  So Mike tried to pull a fast one: his idea was that the stakes should be a weekend in my house in the country.  I was pretty loaded, but I was still conscious enough to realize that there was nothing in this for me—it’s my house.  So the stakes were changed; the loser would have to do twenty jumping jacks.

Well, someone looked up Grant’s birthday and it turns out he was born in 1960.  So bad knee and all, I started doing some jumping jacks.  At this point I kind of remember Mike yelling that I was doing them totally wrong.  Which is entirely possible as it’s been months since I’ve done any jumping jacks.  Actually, it’s been about about 650 months.  I also have a vague recollection that someone was filming this sorry event.  Now, the next to last thing I want is to be some dumb schmuck looking stupid on a YouTube video.  So I’m hereby offering a weekend at my house to whomever turns that video over to me.  Kind of ironic, no?


As I remember him…

...and now

…and now