Rental diaries, vol. 5
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Rental diaries, vol. 5

Fri 29 Sep 2017 3:36 PM

Rent had been due a few days, but Amber and I had time to find a fourth roommate to help us pay it. This was Florence. People needed rooms.

The August factor, however, hadn’t figured in to our calculations. Things looked bleak on (a misnomer: PiuttostoDifficileStanza is more fitting, but packs less of a punch).

We were still mid-fantasy, fixated on the hope of a fourth BFF, someone cool and international who, ideally, enjoyed cleaning the bathroom. Our cocky certainty about the appeal of the camera never abated.

Enter our choices: 63-year old Boris*, with whom we did not entertain a visit, and student Melania*, whose profile suggested she might not be a serial killer. The gold standard in August.

Amber and I agreed, prior to Melania’s visit, that we’d offer her the room on the spot, barring any real reservations either of us had. Since we couldn’t slip off to whisper those mid-visit, we selected a “safe word” of sorts: “I think there’s someone at the door.” This would signal that one of us was unsure.

Melania, dressed uniformly in jet black, arrived forty minutes late, a camera slung around her neck. She neither acknowledged her tardiness nor spoke until Amber ventured, “Are you a photographer?” Her reply: “I fancy myself a bit of a hunter.”

In unison, Amber and I turned to tend to an imaginary knock.

We exchanged token pleasantries, showed Melania the room, sent her home and shortly thereafter resumed breathing.

Minutes later an SMS arrived. “Thanks for the visit,” Melania’s words went. “The room’s nice but I’m concerned about compatibility.”

Perhaps Boris would like cleaning the bathroom, we told ourselves.

*names changed



Rental Diaries column by Mary Gray is now a book, buy it directly or on

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