Every year we have a “Christmas Decorating Contest” and we offer our tenants a cash prize for the best exterior decorations. Our office staff goes out for our traditional holiday dinner together and everyone is provided with a list of the addresses of those who have entered the contest. The tenants are instructed to have their lights on for us so we can drive by each one on the way home and vote for our favorites. It’s a fun time.
One year, we drove by the home of one of my favorite tenants who decided to enter. Dan is not a favorite because we have a great relationship. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Dan and I argue constantly about nearly everything. He loves to drink and will then become very demanding. When he is in one of his moods, he will call me every name in the book. My personal favorite is “Bitch on Wheels” which he calls me regularly and to my face. He lives by himself and I know he is lonely but he will never admit it. He seems to have one bad relationship after another. Although we have this strange love-hate relationship, Dan takes great care of his home. It is an ugly little shack but he is proud of it and he made it truly special with wild colors, unusual décor, and plants in every available corner. He reminds me of an old hippy with his blond hair, sipping his cocktail in his aloha shirt and puka shell necklace.
When we drive by his house to see his decorations that night, Dan is ready for us. He is obviously very drunk, has wrapped several strings of lit Christmas lights around his body, and is singing (slurring) and dancing in the front yard. Of course this is probably not the safest behavior, but I am completely and utterly thrilled. The votes are tallied and Dan wins by a landslide.
Dan passed away the following year. As time went by, it came as a complete shock to hear that he actually had said nice things about me. He made me furious and he made me laugh. I miss him.