let’s call him “napauleon.”

we used to live in a charming, small one-bedroom condo in midtown atlanta, across the street from piedmont park. it went on the market in november of 2008, and was on the market for almost 9 months. this after we’d completely renovated the kitchen.

realtors would visit, we’d host open houses. nothing. comment sheets were collected, some with unreasonable negatives (we couldn’t move the building behind ours), others reasonable. like, the back landing and stairwell outside the kitchen was extremely crowded with stuff: cans of paint, an old t.v., a ladder, canvases with paintings, a vacuum, coat hangers, wire shelves – junk. it all belonged to my neighbor, paul valek, who was also, unfortunately, the president of the condo board.

me and my realtor complained to him repeatedly about this mess. we said, not only is this unsafe, it’s preventing the sale of the condo. his counter offer: help him clean it up.

we went back and forth three or four times. our last volley: but it’s your shit!

finally, just to get it done, i said, okay, i’ll come help clean up. but when i get to the back door, i find everything gone but this little gift from paul:

my pulse quickens and i get hot, prickly and a little dizzy.

turns out it was plastic.

the condo finally sold, paul has a new neighbor (poor guy), and we love our new place (but the kitchen is a down-grade).

and, oh yeah, paul’s uncommonly short. obviously.