Will You Please Just Sell Me Your Flat, Please?

We decided a few months ago to buy a flat. I delighted in saying this. It felt so grown-up, so sophisticated. When I say it aloud (either in my mirror or to others) I feel as though I am wearing an ascot and sipping a martini.

Why yes, I’m buying a flat in a European capital. All true, but the Thurston Howell III accent I put on it is a bit misleading. I can’t see he and Lovie perusing 2+KK’s in Kobylysy and obsessing over energy performance ratings (A is the best, C is average, and it goes to G, which means you’re rubbing sticks together under a hamster’s butt to encourage him to power your flat. But at least it’s expensive.)

Nevertheless, I slip it into conversations that I am buying, mostly hoping someone has an ailing grandmother who was one of the nine people who read my novel and wants to will it to me. This has yet to happen (fingers crossed), but on the bright side people do trip over their tongues to tell me how big of a pain in the ass the process is and how expensive flats are these days. And despite the terror they induce, there is a sense that I am being allowed into some other world, a world that only lets you in when you agree to spend a ludicrous amount of money to be allowed to stress over a 51 meter space for 20 years.

On an unrelated note, I have been day drinking more.

As far as I can tell, when you have decided to buy a flat/house/bungalow/chicken ranch, you go through some things. First, you obsess over listings. Whenever a new listing comes up we scour the pictures and the information looking for those details that make it an immediate deal breaker. Energy performance worse than D, no balcony, above the 7th floor, small bedroom, built on top of a burial ground. Three to five times a day Burke or I will (from the other room) send a listing. The interaction will go as follows:

“Is it OK?”

“Looks OK.”



“Ah bummer. It’s a beauty.”

If it’s not the G performance rating, then it could be: “11th floor,” or “no balcony,” or “Amish burial ground.”

Flats often fulfill 5 of 6 requirements, but the 6th makes it a dealbreaker. There’s always something a little off. Like how Richard Chamberlain as Allan Quartermain was never quite Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones or how Lee Horsley as Matt Houston was never quite Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum. Off.

The second thing is, I am becoming depressed about leaving the flat I live now. We live in a warm, cozy, awesome flat in Prague 6 and I love everything about it. We’re 100 feet from a pub, where we can stop for a belly warmer to tide us over until we can get to the other pub, which is 500 feet from that one. Within walking we have a post office, our pet’s vets, and grocery stores. Moreover, we live on a peaceful street. Squirrels hang out in the tree out back and look in at our pets, who marvel at these free, furry-tailed beasts who can climb trees. I write in the kitchen and love starting my day by coming in this little room, making a coffee, looking out into the street and judging the plebes below. I basically want this flat but next door and I want to own it. But this is unlikely or, in other words, impossible.    

The third thing is, I have become obsessed with flats and houses. Last night we watched a movie during which a man came into a living room and bashed a woman’s brains in with a lamp. Horrifying. Upsetting. And while this brutal beating was happening, I kept thinking – man, look at the French doors in that living room and that garden! That’s gotta cost. Oh my, look at that breakfast nook! I bet it’s glorious when it’s not covered in brain matter and skull fragments. Holy shit is that a breakfast bar!? Oh…so jealous.

When I related my insights to Burke, she said “yeah, I thought about that too, but remember its heating is oil, that’s gotta be an F or a G.”

“Yikes. Well thank God we’re not her!”

And the last thing, among many other little things, is that I sit and day dream about someone showing up and just giving me a flat. I think about it all the time. The reason I get the flat changes. In some fantasies it’s Ed McMahon who comes in with a giant check that just reads: perfect flat, performance rating A. In others it’s like that movie Finding Forrester, in which a talented intercity youth meets a reclusive writer and after some life altering stuff happens, racism is directly confronted, brutal age old prejudices defeated, the old guy dies, blah blah, and at the end he gets the guy’s flat. I want that part to happen. So much so that I am kind of trying to appear in the periphery of the older folks in the neighborhood. I see them at the local or when I walk my dog. Who knows, one might need an English teacher and decide to hand over their flat to the man who demystified gerunds. Or present perfect. Or articles. Or maybe I could just implicate myself nearby in case I can save one of their lives. That’s gotta be worth a flat.

Oh well. Maybe the squirrels will let me move into their tree.

Probably a G.  

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