We cross the threshold just after 8am, scan the barren scene, set down our bags despondently. There is presently a knock at the door: my downstairs neighbour and her emotional support sausage dog, of whom the entirety of my familiarity is the Happy Tuesday plaque displayed in her front window this Thursday. She is manifestly overwrought (the neighbour, not the emotional support sausage dog), precipitating a disconsolate introduction. “I can’t bear it any longer!” she snivels, virtually sobbing.
“I’m… sorry, but…we just…”
“You’ve been stomping around since 4am! It’s a holiday, you know?!”
Flummoxed, I swivel back to Marty, by our mound of suitcases, equally mystified, then turn again to our assailant; but she’s stomped away, emotional support sausage dog in tow, glaring back (the neighbour, not the emotional support sausage dog) as she pivots atop the landing. I swing the door shut, then deadlock it. Unwittingly, cruelly, yet another Mad Bitch from Hell has infiltrated my orbit.
In the Black Friday sales, Marty does things to my Amex I now consider, in retrospect, clear violations of my inalienable liberties. We stagger from Frette’s outlet 25 miles west of Palm Springs with sufficient manchester to get the Beverly Hills Four Seasons through a housekeepers’ strike. Mrs A, laundry queen, is utterly beside herself.
A menagerie of ambiguously needful appliances is replaced for the local voltage. At Best Buy on La Brea, the general manager calls personally to provide his direct line and personal blessing. And we procure an acreage of hand-woven rugs, then a Manhattan block’s length of book shelves. None of it can come home from the store. None of it can be home soon. Beyond Amazon and beyond sight, American retail has quietly abolished all but its front window; that shibboleth now only the front for a new, invisible, logistics frontier.
Between soul-sapping calls of Homeric duration to Stevedoreland – the ship blaming the port authorities, the port faulting the customs broker, the broker fingering the freight forwarder, and the truck’s personnel unfettered of any acquaintance with the English language – I attempt to placate my landlord’s objections to dead-of-night bacchanalias that never happened. Irate, Mrs A manoeuvres the Dyson with incessant brutality. Happy Tuesday responds with grievances reported ever louder and longer.
Delivery day’s implied salvation is a mirage. In every box awaits an elaborate version of misery. The delivery boys, straight outta Compton, demand pineapple and jalapeño pizza, then work to rule. The cable guy turns up to install cable we never ordered. Two older gents measuring the windows for blinds have, ironically, lavishly underlaid their scalps with Velcro, or double-sided tape, to which they’ve affixed confused assemblies of peroxided pubic hair. Marty’s distress is cosmic, but the deflation of his leaking air mattress – and my abject refusal to bring his return flight forward – forces him on. Mrs A is mesmerised by the washer. It’s a Friday, so Happy Tuesday calls the bomb squad.
It’s a days-long ordeal, punctuated by the constant traffic of artisan weirdos, a perdition memorable mainly for the beratings witnessed or abided. But what a magnificent set-up the toil produced. We bloody love it. And by Monday, Happy Tuesday and her emotional support sausage dog have decided to move out.