My new next door neighbor regularly struggles to unlock the door to her apartment. As a result, she’s struck up a friendship with the building manager’s wife. This new neighbor is apodictically elderly, while the building manager’s wife is nearly, but not quite, elderly. (My apologies. You’d think, by now, I could offer better descriptions. At least I made use of “apodictically.” There’s a ten-dollar word you don’t run your eyes across every day, eh?) After the building manager’s wife managed to unlock the troublesome door, the two babushkas continued their hallway confabulation. That is, they did so in the space between my new neighbor’s door and that of my own. I’d had a late night and their chitchat woke me up. Since they were responsible for disturbing me, I felt it well within my rights to eavesdrop. Let’s call the building manager’s wife, “Olga.” The name seems to fit.* Olga could not believe that my new neighbor (whom we’ll call, “Blanch”) did not own a television set. “What do you do with yourself?” demanded Olga, who never turned her TV off. “Oh, I get along well enough with the company of a book or the radio,” Blanch explained. Olga was equally flabbergasted (as was I) to learn that, before moving here, Blanch had given away everything she owned. In sooth, Blanch had traded a large Michigan mansion for the studio apartment across from mine. “I wouldn’t have sold everything,” said Olga. 

27 May 2000 

*[I wish I could tell you what it means to look like an “Olga.” Presumably, the building manager’s wife wasn’t very attractive. Why is “Olga” my go-to name for an unattractive older woman? Well, the name “Olga” looks and sounds a little like the word “ogre,” no? Plus, the first two letters of “Olga” are also those of the word “old.” But surely there are stunning beauties named “Olga” in the world today. Google, naturally, directs me to one: Olga Kurylenko. Now there’s a comely lass.] 

[Presumably, I chose “Blanch” for the same reasons as stated above for “Olga.”] 

[Oh, to be free of the mesmeric screen! To think of the decades I’ve squandered dawdling before the almighty boob tube!]

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