While Josh and I are grateful to the previous tenant of our apartment for relieving the wall of the giant portrait of Marylin Monroe, apparently someone else isn’t so thrilled with him. Last night the French police stopped by to see if he still resided on the premises.
You would think that language-learning in a foreign country is full of opportunities to talk to “native speakers,” but it can be unusual to have conversations about things outside the daily routine: asking for a baguette, buying a bus ticket, yelling at noisy neighbors (who have now moved out, only to be replaced by a renovation crew, who, I swear, is trying to drill through our wall).
So, I was excited to talk to the police, and even more so because I had information to share. The Marilyn thief had been back! (Maybe.) Back in December I was on the phone with my mom when he buzzed our apartment. I ignored the buzz because I was busy talking. He heard me through the open window (yes, in December) and shouted until I stuck my head out. He looked a bit like a young movie villain, tall, with a sneery face, a chic leather jacket, and, if I remember correctly, a cigarette in each hand. (How can that possibly have been true? But that’s my mental picture of him.) He wanted to know if Raymond Gallou had lived here. Oui, I replied. We transferred the electric bill out of his name. “Well, I’m him and I’m here for my mail.” Okay, I buzzed him in to check the community mailbox in the hall downstairs. A minute later he was knocking at my door, but, being alone, suspicious, and on the phone, I ignored him again.
Was it the Marilyn thief? If so, why did he ask if this was his own old apartment? Wouldn’t he know? I related this to the police, finally getting to use vocabulary from the “describing people” unit we’d had in French class. “Il avait l’aire mechant,” I told them, “He looked shady.” Their response: if he comes back, don’t open the door. Not even to thank him for taking the Marilyn painting.