building relationships: part deux.

Hello, gorgeous!
Neither are my buildings, but a girl can dream...

Living in an apartment building is sort of like a petri dish; an experiment of human interaction where it is susceptible to bizarre incidents, random drama of strange characters from different backgrounds who otherwise may have never crossed paths had they not somewhat shared a living space. The night before my departure back to New York, we had witnessed a rather colorful incident in our building.

It was set, I was in for a quiet night. My bags were ready to go, waiting for me at the front door, my passport and official documents were in order, my plane outfit set out on the couch (stand-by passengers using employee family passes have to abide by a dress code), and my wine was chilled. Simple!

With a glass of Bourgogne Aligoté in my left hand and my watering can in my right, I was going to kick off my raging eve with giving my window herbs the watering of a lifetime. Due to the scorching temperatures, watching these poor guys fry during the day, I have been miscalculating just how much they need and end up watering the sidewalk below. Luckily our street is extremely quiet where pedestrians really are few and far between. At least that's what I tell myself....

At that thought was when our doorbell rang.

Oh no!

I knew this day would come. Someone was coming up to complain about my sloppy watering job. Merde! I expected to open the door to a pissed off neighbor, drenched, and holding a puppy who was also drenched. Freaking out, I closed the window and hid the evidence of the watering can behind the curtains and suspiciously opened the door.

Standing in the hallway was not a drenched neighbor and his puppy but an extremely attractive Japanese girl with full, flowing dark hair, sporting a wee little outfit, who was looking at me expectantly. Bonsoir?

"BonsoirI'm sorry to disturb you but have you seen my cat? She's grey." she asked.

Had I seen her cat? Well if this wasn't the opening of a film where I had been painfully miscast...

Screaming out to Aurel in the living room, I asked if he had seen a grey cat lurking around the building. Earlier in the evening he had been in our cavernous Silence of the Lambs basement to collect the suitcases, and he offered the possibility that the cat may have crept in behind him and was locked downstairs.

Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to see a cat since I had to leave mine back in New York four years ago, I agreed to join the investigation. So it may have just been my imagination but looking back, I noticed the girl, our neighbor, fluffing her hair up and adjusting her low cut dress. It wasn't until I saw her display a look of total disappointment at the announcement of my participation in the kitty hunt that I knew the hair fluff was no coincidence. Apparently I was miscast in her scenario as well. Some girls, I tell you...

The three of us walked down to the first floor, opened the basement door, and voilà, there was kitty. (So much for the hunt.) Crouching low on the first step of the basement, the cat who goes by the name Yoko, had little dust clusters stuck in her whiskers and her white paws were spotted black from the dirty floor. 

Mystery solved. Back to drinking wine.

But not so fast!

Just as we were wishing our neighbor a bonne soirée, the apartment door of Helena, our gardienne ferociously sprung open. Our building manager is such a sweet woman, petite and lovely, and there has not been a morning where I have not caught a genuine smile on her face. Well there is a first for everything... 

Storming out of her apartment in a fury, she addressed our neighbor  who was heading back to her apartment, next door to Helena's.

"Attendez! Attendez! Attendez!" she screamed, pointing her finger in the air.

The neighbor stopped, and with a yawn put Yoko the Cat down to scurry off into the courtyard. My neighbor didn't appear at all alarmed by the gardienne's aggression, and looked at Helena as if she was ready for what she was going to say. Us, on the other hand, were most certainly not.

"I'm going to say this in front of witnesses!" she threatened, "If I hear you and your boyfriend beating each other again, I will call the police!"

Beating each other? Ça va pas! It really is moments like these that I place hope that my comprehension is off. It was the second time she had said it, and Aurel's look of total shock that confirmed that I was correct the first time, and that we have neighbors...who beat each other at night? All I could think of was little Yoko and her unfortunate exposure to domestic violence. Poor thing.

"I don't want to hear your bizarre sex games either," Helena continued, "I live right next door. It is not correct!"

It was getting juicier by the sentence, but we felt a little weird standing there and feigned being distracted by the evacuation floor plan that was hung on the wall. Unfortunately, we couldn't leave as we were situated behind the line of fire, and would have to interrupt them by squirming between them in order to get to the staircase. 

"I know, Madame," my neighbor explained to Helena's accusation of her sex games, "But I am sick in the head." 

Really. This was the response.

"I know you are," Helena responded, "But that doesn't mean that I don't need to sleep!"

Wait, so they have discussed this before? That's kind of weird, right? And furthermore, what the hell goes on in our building? Helena continued on with her laundry list of complaints ranging from the clacking sound of her heels, loud calls to Japan, but the conversation kept rerouting back to violent sex and beatings. 

Once our neighbor, who, by the way was completely unphased by any of this, had retreated back to her apartment, Helena turned to us and transformed back to the sweet woman that we know. It was as if nothing had previously transpired. Helena entertained us with casual small talk about the weather and vacation before giving us a hug and heading back in for the night. The two of us stood there stunned, shocked, silent...and decided to leave to take an evening walk to get a glass of something stronger than chilled wine.

Just when you think you are going to have a quiet night in, you get literally pulled out of the confines of your own apartment and dragged into a mini drama. Aside from learning that there are some questionable characters in our building, I also learned to not mess with our guardienne, this woman is a force not to be reckoned with. It was my perfect send off from the City of Light, would it have gone any other way? Doubtful.


  1. Hi. I really like your blog. You're a very talented writer, and I hope you can publish a book about your Paris adventures one day! I visited Paris this year, and now find myself missing it so much. I was intrigued by your mention about leaving your cat in NY four years ago. My biggest obstacle to moving to Paris (at least in my head) is that I have two cats and a dog. I love them dearly and acquired them before I had these crazy notions of living abroad and working remotely with U.S. employers. I've been looking for stories of Americans who took their pets to Paris with them, but these are short in supply. Not practical, I think... Do you still get to visit your cat, or did you have to give her up completely?

    1. Hi Madelaine! Thank you so much for your kind comment and of course, for reading!

      Before I moved to Paris I rescued a 3 week old Bengal cat my cousin had found on a construction site. Some of the workers were throwing rocks at her and her siblings because they thought they were rats. : ( So I had no choice but to rescue her.

      I had full intentions of bringing her to Paris but my life was so transient that it would have been a hassle for her. She now resides with my mom and has no intentions of moving to France. She's overweight and completely spoiled!
      : )

      I know that Diane of Oui in France has a dog but am not sure if she brought her over or adopted her in France. Perhaps reach out to her?

      I hope you will be able to one day actualize your dream of living in Paris! If I can do it, I have faith that you can too! Lots of luck to you. : )

    2. Mademoisella coquine, thanks for your reply! I've been to Oui in France and it looks like a really good recommendation. And thanks (seriously) for sharing that horrifying story about the kitten mistaken for a rat! Very interesting. I'm looking forward to reading more stories about your experiences in Paris. And, you know, I do love my dog, but right now she's passing the most disgusting gas under my desk as I type. Ugh. Maybe Paris would be sweeter without my pups.

  2. Oh haha, your apartment is so well situated! Or is it just Paris? :) We haven't had many weird episodes in Avignon, few years back we could hear our neighbour fighting(verbally)with the ex-girlfriend. Luckily they broke up and he moved to New York for couple of years, until this summer he is back, with loads of girls in the apartment! haha.

    1. Hi Sini! Hahaha I know, my apartment building is super weird. I have so many little stories. my favorite neighbor is the 90 year old woman who lives next door who wears a fur beret. She's fierce!

      Your neighbor sounds like a busy fella...oh la la. ; )

  3. No words. (as usual). just ooc and i can picture Aurel taking this all in as Yoko runs about.

    On a side note, our downstairs neighbors came upstairs to tell Philip to STOP watering our plants. Not to be more "dainty" about it but to outright stop. I mean... what gives? We live in apartment buildings in a city... this stuff happens! Bon voyage! x

    1. Hahahaha "OOC"pretty much sums it up. Even Aurelien was like wtf was that??

      Stop altogether? WHY? Ugh, like they can actually control what you guys do. I like how they tried though. Don't you grow baby kale in the window?

      Did your gardienne move out yet? I was thinking of that as I was writing this post.

  4. Only im Paris! Very funny post but I can just picture it.

    From stsying un many different rental apartments my observatiib is that the French always have noisy sex on Saturday nights and fetes de jours. I just use earplugs!

    Love Denise

    1. Denise, was this comment written with your smart phone? : P !
      You know, I have never heard my neighbors romping in Paris...ever. It's so weird. I used to always here activity in Brooklyn and in LA but in Paris? Nope.

  5. ROFLMAO, sorry, I shouldn't laugh, but yeah, blocks of flats are certainly interesting!

    I fear I might have been housing the mad sex freak in our block until my now ex-flatmate moved out, now we just get things like drunk teenagers trying to kick in the door of the guy downstairs, looking for a dog that doesn't live there that apparently attacked them...

    1. I'm glad you got a laugh out of it! That was the point! No, I don't think mental illness and domestic violence is at all funny but it was how these topics were being handled and discussed between my building manager and entitled neighbor that incites some laughter.

      Oh no! Your poor neighbor is getting harassed for no reason? These kids sound pretty dumb but I guess thinking really is impaired after a few cocktails. I hope your neighbor calls the police on them the next time!

  6. Geez! Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall in that Japanese girl's apartment?!:)))) I love her candidness: "I have depraved sexual practices cuz I'm sick in the head". LOL!

    Fodder for your book and a few sequels! After "Tokyo Decadence", "Paris Decadence: the Secret Nightlife of Paris' Seemingly Sleepy Neighbourhoods";)))

    1. Duchesse, it was one of the strangest interactions I have had with a neighbor. Just when you think the story ends at finding Yoko the Cat, no it continues with a majorly pissed off gardienne. The two of us literally stood in the hallway a good minute in silent shock over this interaction. Paris never ceases to entertain me. God, I love that place. : )

  7. oh!... this is going to make House Hunter International even more interesting, it is on tomorrow can't wait ....

    1. Yay! It's finally airing in Canada! Please let me know what you think. Enjoy!! : )

  8. I honestly don't know who has the weirder life, you or me? It's a toss up. x.

    1. It's a tough call. I will say though, I think you have way more fun than I do! There is more rosé in your life...oh and you have The Londons, best cast ever! : )

  9. Awkwardness.... and right before you leave O.O

    Its funny how Helen transformed from totally disgusted and displeased of the Japanese lady to so pleasant and welcoming with you guys. LOL!

  10. I literally laughed so hard at this I cried!