Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I used to have good luck with apartments. No so much anymore.

I mean, I've got an awesome new home, but I may have lost the mojo, man.

My fortuitousness in finding places had never failed me. I scored on the Upper West Side, Upper East Side and of course, Santa Monica. But whenever I left the search in the hands of others, I nearly ended up in dull areas of Chelsea, or downtown L.A., and the worst of all, Beverly Hills.

So when my girlfriend and I started our search together, I was sure things would go our way. I don’t know about Adelphia’s apartment-attaining ability, but I kick ass at crib-acquiring kismet.

I wasn’t worried that after a few weeks, we hadn’t found a place that was reasonably priced in an area near the beach, allowed pets or provided parking, didn’t have ugly stained carpeting, dilapidated fixtures or any crack dens nearby.

At one point, it seemed our best bet was a house with such an amazing spacious backyard -- a veritable citrus orchard with orange, lemon, grapefruit and lime trees -- that we were almost willing to overlook everything else. The place was too small; a shoebox with hardwood floors. The rent was about $500 more a month than we could afford. And while the street was quiet and residential, it was located in Nowheresville, a.k.a. BoringBurg Adjacent.

The landlord said, “It’s only ten minutes to the beach.” Really? My apartment now is a 10 minute walk to the ocean and this house was several miles east of that. “Well,” he said, “ten minutes by bicycle.”

Yeah, right. If you’re Lance Armstrong.

We passed on that place, but Adelphia and I didn’t have many alternatives. We kept perusing Craigslist and local newspapers and driving around. Did we have to join Westside Rentals? We had heard mixed things and didn’t want to pay their membership fee just to find nothing. On the other hand, many of the “For Lease” signs we saw had their evil red logo in front… In front of Westside Rentals’ headquarters, a few blocks from my apartment, was the weird sign-holder dude dancing frenetically on the street corner. That was my favorite thing about that company.

No, I’d find something. I just needed to put the word out.

When I walked into my gym and the guy at the front asked me how my weekend was, instead of muttering something noncommittal, I mentioned I had spent it searching for a new place. “Oh, hey, one of our personal trainers is dating a successful rental apartment broker. Lemme hook you up.”

See? Like I always say: Gotta know who to know.

And just to get a few more irons in the fire, I also knew a woman at work who told me there were lots of available units in her roomy, pet-friendly complex. And a friend from film school who manages several buildings in Venice. Mojo Mike would score again.

But the apartment broker only brokered big bux Brentwood, still banking on the OJ Simpson fascination. That woman from work got a new job and the bitch never called me back. And my friend in Venice sold all his properties to finance his latest film project, something about a killer sea cucumber.

Had I lost my touch?

Meanwhile, Adelphia’s friend provided her a password for Westside Rentals. There, she found a listing of a place she had been to for a party two years earlier. Adelphia remembered admiring the half of the duplex, and I could understand why -- a wood-burning fireplace, Spanish tile floors, a huge front patio and side area in a nice quiet neighborhood a half-mile from the beach and surrounded by parks. Adelphia was still in touch with the couple who had once lived there, and they vouched for us to the nice landlady, so the place was practically ours if we wanted.

But did we? Our one concern was the one bedroom. With the big living/dining room, we wouldn’t need a separate room as our office, but the bedroom was laid out with a queen-sized low-ceiling loft area. It could be cozy or confining. Crap, this was confusing.

To clear my head, I went for a run. Perhaps one of the last times I’d take this residential route leading back to my old apartment. And that’s when I saw it -- a new rental listing for a small cottage-style house. Adelphia loves those cottage thingies. I liked the area, and also, the fact that I had discovered this potential diamond in the rough.

I couldn’t get in to see the place, so I memorized the listing’s phone number, reciting it aloud in rhythm to my running the rest of the way home. “Six-five-oh-seven-six…” I passed the Westside Rentals Dancing Dude, who was wearing a cape and doing the Cabbage Patch but looked at me like I was the crazy one.

Adelphia was home waiting for me, still debating on whether we should take that duplex. Dripping with sweat, I told her I may have a new option. A better one, I said, as I typed in the number and kept it on speakerphone.

The voicemail message went on and on: “A delightful cottage… located in picturesque Santa Monica… with a charming living room… and an adorable front patio…”

Yeah, yeah, we both muttered, waiting, but how much?

Finally, after another three minutes of descriptions: “… rents for thirty-eight hundred a month--”

I hung up. Adelphia said, “Well, that’s just a charming price, isn’t it?”

So much for the cottage. But it didn’t matter. Adelphia and I thought about it more, and realized the duplex was perfect for us. We move in this Saturday, and we’re thrilled.

I just kinda wish I had been the one who found our future home. Still, like I always say, gotta know who to know. And I know Adelphia. So I still got the mojo. Just by proxy.


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