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Thursday, April 9, 2009

We Got Fired

Mrs. Apron and I have the accumulator disease. It's a terminal case. We're going to end up dying underneath a mountain of skirts, ties and typewriters. We will be buried, appropriately, in a landfill.

Our new home, while it is bigger than our apartment, lacks one thing in which our apartment excelled: closet space. Our old apartment had a gargantuan walk-in closet with rails on two sides of it. There was also an impromptu closet rail in the hallway, and a decent-sized closet in the bedroom.

Our new home, well, has none of the aforementioned qualities. Our house was built in 1928 and, apparently, people back then wore one outfit for a year, got rid of it, and got another one. It seems improbable, I know, but how else do you explain the closets in these old houses? They're absurd, they're antithetical to their supposedly intended purpose: to store clothes.

Yes, we have three bedrooms and, yes, each bedroom has a closet. But they're all barely functional. The small room (which will one day be the baby's room-- SQUEEEE!) has, of course, the most decent closet. It's filled with Mrs. Apron's clothes, to the point of combustion. The office closet is built into the eaves, which is really intelligent, so the closet ceiling slants down sharply and it is maybe a foot-and-a-half deep.

The master bedroom closet is, uh.... yeah. I don't know how to describe it. It's totally fucked up. There are two large steps inside it, that go nowhere. As soon as you open the door, you are basically faced with a wall, you have to turn left inside the closet to get to the closet rails, which are located above the mystery steps-- prohibiting you from putting anything on the steps, because it's all covered with hanging clothes. The previous owners even recognized the inadequacy of this design and tried to potschkie together an auxiliary closet rod system using rods, 2x4s and, of course, their favorite ingredient: tape.

Needless to say, 3/4ths of our clothes still remain in boxes and suitcases. We get dressed in the morning out of boxes. We are pathetic in our wrinkles and our creases. We have a home, but are closetless. I know, I know-- we don't have it that bad. There are many out there who are homeless, and I know at least one person who, in college, slept in a closet for a whole semester. I'll bet her closet was bigger than ours, though.

So, we made some phone calls to some people who we thought might be able to help us with our little dilemma.

Colorado Closets. Closet Consultants. Closet Keepers. Closet Connundrums.

All the companies have stupid names like that. My guess is that they're all staffed with frustrated or resigned disappointments who went to school for either architecture or interior design, thinking they were all going to be the next I. M. Pei or at least Ty Pennington.

We decided to get quotes from two different companies. Based purely on the company representatives who came to our house on Tuesday and Wednesday, I'll call them Closet Goy and Closet Jew.

Closet Goy was a woman in her early fifties. She was very well-dressed with eccentric, bright-red eyeglasses. All she needed was a hubcap-sized brooch and she could have been the Executive Director of an arts-related non-profit. Closet Goy sat my wife and I down at our dining room table and took out sample pieces of the material that her company uses to manufacture their creations.

"It's an extremely durable yet attractive product," Closet Goy assured us.

"It's melamine, right?" I said.

"Uh, yes, essentially. We warranty our product for life."

Whose life? I wondered.

We ham-handedly tried to get some idea of pricing for this "durable yet attractive product."

"Oh, we design spaces for people from $1,000 anywhere to $10,000!"


I'm sure she noticed our crestfallen expressions, which she is no doubt trained to recognize from various Closet Goy-sponsored power point seminars. If she didn't notice that, she probably noticed the suicide note that I had started composing on the napkin in front of me.

"Let's go upstairs and take a looksee, okay?"

We showed her our situation. Closet Goy's icy eyes scanned our bedroom with disapproval. She thinned her lips as she observed wallpaper shavings all over the floor like a fresh dusting of snow. I don't think she appreciated our pajama pants strewn about our bed and the bag of clean laundry that had not yet been put away, sitting unceremoniously on the floor.

"So," she probably thought to herself, "there really are poor, slovenly Jews."

She measured every square inch of our upstairs, for approximately an hour. During which time, I took the opportunity to fold the clean laundry and put it away, partly shamed by her disdain. While her back was turned to me as she measured the wall above our bed, I put a pair of Mrs. Apron's underpants on my head and waggled my tongue maniacally at her. Mrs. Apron almost burst out laughing and had to leave the room.

"So, do you have any idea of what you've budgeted for this project?" she asked me, now that we were alone together in the boudoir.

I wanted to say, "Uh, about $75," but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I'm too polite. To peoples' faces.

"Well, we didn't really know what to budget, frankly. You were the first company we called, so..."

"Oh, so you're getting other estimates?" she asked sharply, as if I had just revealed my plans to breed the Olsen twins with a komodo dragon.

"Yes," I answered meekly.

"Well," Closet Goy said, "in that case, I'll be taking my design with me and, after you've had the estimate from the other company, I'll come back and then we can talk price and design."

Sure thing, cunt.

After Closet Goy finished humiliating me, we went back downstairs.

She vaguely suggested several options for us, including pull-out drawers for our existing closet, but what she really wanted to do was turn the future baby's room into a closet. That'll keep these two dirty Jews from breeding.

Closet Goy set up a follow-up meeting, during which she will reveal the quote-- like the season finale of a reality show. We saw her out, shut the door, and immediately commenced mocking her.

Closet Jew came over yesterday at 4pm, while Mrs. Apron was on her way home from work. I guess I was surprised that Closet Jew was a man, which proves that I'm just as sexist as the next bastard, I just assumed that designing closets was work for the womenfolk. Closet Jew had a beard and a considerable paunch, but he had kind eyes and I liked him immediately. I don't know if it was his religion (which I didn't find out until the very end of our meeting) or his affable, low-key demeanor or his gender, but he was very disarming from the start.

He entered the house, threw up his hands and said, "Okay, show me something. What am I doing?"

I showed him the upstairs and he stared at our bedroom closet as if it were a woman he wasn't sure that he was attracted to or not. He just cocked his head and looked it over up and down, considering it very seriously. Then he started shoving our clothes all around to get a better look.

"Forgive my pawing through your shit," he said. Wow. Finally, somebody who called it like it is: we don't have clothes, we have shit.

After less than five minutes, Closet Jew looked at me and said,

"Well, here's what I'd like to do: I'd like to blast through your closet wall, and build on these two existing steps inside your closet to lead up to the attic and turn your whole attic space into closets."

"Um," I said, "that sounds like a totally awesome idea, but that's not going to be in our budget. We're looking for an economical solution."

"I know," he said, "but I don't have one."

My heart sank. And he noticed. Those power-point seminars must be good.

"Look, you don't need me. I can go out and be a schmuck on my own, you know?

I smiled.

"Me, too."

"Right," he said, "you, too. I mean, go pay a handyman, a general contractor $500 or $600 to throw up a closet for you against the wall. You can't do anything with these shitty little closets, they are what they are, you know? Why throw money at this stupid little space if it's not going to get any better for you? Use your money wisely."

Ah, the Jewish perspective. Thank you.

"And, look-- I can see you've got a million projects going on here and, frankly, it's blowing my mind a little bit-- finish one room-- just one room, finish it. Then, move on."

He was starting to get a little paternalistic on me, but I liked him, so it was okay. He looked at me and asked where I went to high school. I told him.

"Me too," he said. He eyeballed me. "What were you? Class of '80.... '84?"

I stared at him.

"Try '98."

His eyes popped.

"Holy shit! '98?!" Closet Jew exclaimed. "Whoa. You just made me feel real old."

"How do you think you made me feel?" I asked, "You think I'm as old as you are."

"Eh," he shrugged, "shave your beard."

We reminisced about the school, sharing very different memories, but connecting on a couple old teachers we both had. He couldn't remember the names of most of the teachers he'd had.

"Hey, look, it was a long time ago and, besides," he said, "we were all stoned the whole time anyway."

"That must have been awesome," I said admiringly.

"Yeah, it was pretty great. There was this room down behind the cafeteria-- that was the smoking room. If you wanted to smoke anything other than cigarettes, you had to go off campus, but it was a totally open campus in those days. It was great."

We walked downstairs together just as Mrs. Apron was coming home.

"Hi, honey, I'm home," said Closet Jew to her.

"Apparently, we can be schmucks on our own," I told her. She stared at us.

Closet Jew explained the hopeless situation briefly to her, and she stood there and took it bravely. He and I shook hands warmly.

"Zie gezunt, and Happy Passover," he said to me, the way only Jews who know you're Jewish too can do without actually knowing for sure.

It's Yiddish for "Be healthy, be well."

And he left.

"So," my wife said to me, "were we just fired by the closet company?"

"Basically, yeah."


We may indeed have been fired by him, but he left us with a good taste in our mouths, unlike Closet Goy. We had been in the presence of a decent man who told us the truth and refused to sell us a bill of goods we didn't need, just to make a commission and a sale. As I thought about our encounter, another piece of Yiddishkeit popped into my head. It was the word "hamish."

"Cozy. Comfy. Familiar."

"To feel at home."

He made us feel at home in our home, even with our hamish, useless little closets. With ourselves.

I'm calling today to cancel the follow-up appointment with Closet Goy. We don't need her or her melamine or her bank-account depleting powers.

We just need to feel hamish.


  1. You, like, SQUEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!ed.

    *shakes head and walks away*


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