13 February 2009

Lucky Friday the 13th

Today was lease signing day, at the apartment. Our last real estate transaction, our house closing some 12 years ago, included the last-minute surprise that the sellers didn't have the legal rights to the house. So it's fair to say we were a little uneasy this morning about what awaited.

It was no surprise that we arrived at the address before either of the agents, since we were actually actually on time. So we were perplexed when a different woman motioned us in from behind the gate and shuttled us upstairs. With our language skills still lagging, we couldn't figure out how to politely ask who she was. A stand-in for the owner's agent (who we later learned had had her car stolen yesterday)? The guardien/building-keeper? A neighbor mistaking us for dog-whisperers (tiny dogs with outsized ill tempers abound in this neighborhood)? 

As she chatted with us on the way up to the apartment, she wasn't talking about any of the limited number of things my French is up-to-date on, so other than the fact that she'd pushed the button for the 6th floor when we squished together on the elevator, I still couldn't discern from her patter whether we were even talking with the right person. It wasn't until we'd been in the apartment for nearly 5 minutes that I realized that she's the owner, and she lives next door.

That certainly explains why the owner's agent had been able to tell us during our first visit that the neighbor was a lone woman. And there was that moment of recognition-- dread, even --- that we were going to learn a lot in the next hour about what it was going to be like living on Avenue Henri Martin.

It turns out that Madame C. is a charmingly down-to-earth woman in her 50s who was extremely accommodating and helpful throughout the lease review and signing, and not at all like the some of the owners we'd heard about from our agent, who she referred to as "dragons." She could still turn out to be overbearing, paranoid, and/or a serial killer, but if she's half as nice and normal as she seemed today, getting the apartment and the owner is definitely a 2-fer as far as luck goes. 

We celebrated this evening with dinner at the most innovative place we've eaten this week, appropriately enough in the 13th arrondissement. We had a really nice meal at good value. Excellent value, actually, since as desert arrived, the couple seated (very closely, since this is a tiny restaurant) next to us got ready to leave, and they offered us the last 1/3 of their unfinished bottle of wine, the same one we'd ordered. Not being fools, we cheerfully accepted. After all, we wouldn't want to do anything to change our luck.

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