Friday, April 11, 2008

Your Majesty, You've Done It Again!

There is a real-estate guy standing outside my window. He’s taking pictures of the building across the street. It’s for sale. It is an ugly one-story garage building. He envisions a cheaply constructed ten-story glass-and-steel ant-farm full of rich people rising in its place.

I'm not sentimental, but when that building is erected, it will block all of the natural light to my little first-floor apartment behind the garbage cans that I'm currently struggling to keep up with the modest rent on.

And I don't look forward to looking out my window or stepping outside every day with no choice but to look into the 1,000 square-foot lives of the poor suckers, eyes wide with optimistic hip urban home ownership, who've mortgaged their future to keep up with the cool kids as every month their income stagnates, their Ikea furnishings fade from fashion and their flat-screen goes on the fritz, the poorly riveted steel frame of the building begins to buckle and the half-inch thick caulk joints around the windows begin to peel until they sell it at a loss or rent it out to hard-partying college kids bankrolled by their parents.

That might sound pessimistic, but it isn't unrealistic. This is New York City, after all. It's not like it hasn't happened.

The real-estate guy doesn't waste time on such thoughts.

He doesn’t realize it, but he bears a striking physical resemblance to his paternal grandfather’s great-grandfather, who was personal valet to Ferdinand Bourbon, King of Naples.

His ancestor had made his fortune by stealthily taking a gold coin from atop His Majesty’s dressing table every morning, and through sleight of hand creating the impression that he'd just removed it from the freshly used Royal bedpan declaring, “You’re Majesty, you’ve done it again!” before carrying the steaming tray of Royal crap through the echoing baroque marble hallways and emptying it into the water closet.

Every morning for ten years.

Ferdinand, an appreciator of both flattery and innovative fecal humor, adopted the habit of allowing his faithful manservant to keep the coins as a tip until the summer of 1820 when, as the pressures of the revolt by Pepe and his Carbonari , with his own army mired down in Sicily no less, and his exclusion from the Congress of Troppau led to the erosion of both his fortunes and his sense of humor he responded one morning by growling, “Clean it off and put it back.”

Sensing the end of the party, within months the real-estate guy's ancestor had abandoned his family in the dark of night with a ticket in his pocket for first-class passage to New York, where he changed his name, reaped a bonanza in the stock market and married into High Society.

We'll see if this douchebag manages to cash out in time.

copyright, © 2008 Andy Biscontini