Monday, March 29, 2010

From a Pharmacy in North Balwyn to a Condo in Queens

She said "Hey girl its about time you wrote
It's been over two years now my old friend
Take me back to the days of the foreign telegrams
And the all night rock'n rollin' hey Chel
We was wild then"
From "Anchorage", Michelle Shocked

Ah, hello, Mr. O'Reilly. How are you? Oh sorry, nearly forgot: Basil Fawlty, remember? The poor sod you do jobs for. So how are things your end? Ah, splendid. Now how would you like to hear how things are my end? Oh, well, up to your usual standard I think the odd hole in the wall, the odd door missing; but nothing you can't be sued for.
Basil Fawlty (Fawlty Towers) talking to his carpenter

At the Solarium
Today I was reminded of an old friend. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) he won't be reading this. He's in hospital in Australia recovering from a triple bypass. And in any case, he's not on the internet.

But those who know him will recognize him from what I am writing, and I hope this brings a smile to their eyes and a remembrance of happier times.

How it came about - the remembrance that is - was that I was reading on the web about condos in Long Island City in Queens, New York. Looking to buy.

I've gone off my first consideration - "The View" - that I wrote about in "A Room with a View" partly because I could not afford an apartment there, and partly because of a "don't-buy-here-vibe" that I got when viewing it.

Yeah I know - "vibe" is so seventies, so last century. But it's better than "emo" that I heard for the first time today. Boy am I out of touch ...

So I kept looking. I really liked the look of "the Solarium" apartments in Queens. Très "eco-chic" if there is such a thing and if there isn't there soon will be. Better than the "industrial chic" of the Powerhouse, also in Queens, that my excellent realtor at NestSeekers had recommended. In any case I could NOT buy a place in a block called "PowerHouse" because a hundred years go I frequented jazz dances at a "PowerHouse", in Melbourne in the pre-Dylan-pre-electric-guitar days. Days that only the ancients now remember.

I have a feeling, a hope that soon there will be such a thing as "Queens Chic", and so I wanted to find out more about the Solarium than the advertising hype was giving me. I googled and found a posting from a prospective buyer who had actually seen the "Solarium" apartments. The subject line got me in - "LIC Solarium Condos are being sold by a goon". ("LIC" is an acronym for "Long Island City".)

The post then went on to say, "Man did this guy go to the loser school of sales. He was dressed for the mob. He asked to see us and he opens by blurting 'whussup,' as though we had asked to see him." You can read the whole post here.

It was the "LIC Solarium Condos are being sold by a goon" that reminded me of my old friend. He used to run a pharmacy in Australia together with his wife, who was and still is, one of my best friends. The funniest thing was hearing both of them talk after closing hours, usually over dinner at their place.

"A clown came into the pharmacy," he'd start, and proceed to describe some customer who had said something mildly silly.

He was the Basil Fawlty of pharmacists. A man without patience who didn't tolerate fools one little bit.

Of course after a while the guests at the dinner party would tire of the stories, where upon he'd wake them up (they were mostly politically correct people) with, "A half-caste came into the pharmacy today ..."

Did he mean this, or was he as I suspect having his own private joke? Whatever. I know that I laughed. And of course he was not really racially prejudiced. ... Some of his best friends were ...

I hope to have a look at The Solarium and meet the "goon" later this week.

And meanwhile, best of luck to my old friend. I hope you pull through the bypass surgery. The world needs people who can make others laugh.



Anonymous said...

Be glad your friend is having his bypass surgery in the 21st Century, not in the early 1970s when they darn near killed me - twice in two years! And it will not be painful, just very uncomfortable for a day or two. And, he'll feel ten or twenty years younger when he leaves hospital.
Hope he's having it done in a major metropolitan area.

Kate said...

Yes, he's in a good hospital. Send him your good thoughts. He's still "out" - three weeks.

Kate said...

Yes, he's in a good hospital. Send him your good thoughts. He's still "out" - three weeks.

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