Relationships are hard. Conflict is everywhere. Lately, Michelle has been trying to blame Lev's farts on me, even though -- and I swear I am not making this up -- only one of us can hiccup and fart at the same time, and it's not me. (Tried. Can't.)
Even with a child as sweet as Lev, there is occasional friction. For example, I am a fan of the Austin Powers movies, whereas Lev hates the joke when the obese Scottish character says, "I ate a baby." These are areas where we agree to disagree. One major disagreement we have is, I like to wash my hands after visiting the bathroom. He poops in his pants and pees on himself in the bath. So we occasionally have beef, when I'll be like, "Bro, you literally just mashed peas all over the table and the floor." And he'll be like, "True, but I'm adorable so I get away with it."
At which point, I have to say, "Kudos, O worthy opponent, I could only have hoped you wouldn't have raised that powerful debate point, to which there is no possible objection, carry on flinging peas into my hair."
But when it comes to Ljubomir, I have to stand my ground.
Ljubomir is our elevator repairman. He is in our building with sufficiently disturbing frequency that I have learned the broad outlines of his life story. He is an ethnic Macedonian but was raised in Romania where his father was a government minister and he enjoyed a playboy lifestyle: fast cars, night clubbing and hair gel--in his chest hair as well as the thick curly black slavic hair on his head. The only issue in what sounds like it must have been an otherwise idyllic life of chasing ladies named Olga, eating herring, and dancing to techno, was that his father expected more of Ljubomir and would beat him savagely when Ljubomir came home to the family palace after a night of carousing. Also, there was a war in the Balkans.
And so Ljubomir moved to America and fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming an elevator repairman. He is about 5 foot 10 and of ample girth, and somehow often tends to be bending over, exposing his hairy butt crack, and he is always, always, drenched in sweat and looks as if he has just run up a flight of stairs carrying a heavy wrench, which he usually has. His eyes are also generally bugging out of his head and he appears to be constantly panicked and on the verge of having a heart attack.
Anyway, for some odd reason--and I'm not complaining--Ljubomir loves me like no man or woman ever has. He literally would give me his wife if I asked, and probably even if I didn't ask. With other tenants of the building he is irrationally harsh and often bullying--but no matter what insanely dumb illegal thing I do--such as running a combination carwash/disco/strip club in the basement during summer months, Ljubomir just grins at me and offers to help carry out my trash. This is mystifying, but since it's also got a lot of benefits, I don't question him. He isn't literally in love with me, he just likes me a lot. And enjoys spooning on rainy afternoons.
Anyway, Ljubomir's hands are generally covered in black greasy filth that extends from a thick granular cream under his finger nails (which, as you have surmised, are disturbingly long) and continues up past his elbows, towards the area where his chest hair, side burns and arm pit hair meld in an unholy alliance, and taper off into the thick bristly mat of fur that coats his forearms. Ljubomir is a fiercely loyal and hairy man, and not overly concerned with hygiene.
And this gets to the heart of my recent disagreement with Lev. When Ljubomir meets Lev in the elevator, he inevitably strokes Lev's face with his hands--from which I literally see billions of e coli bacteria swarming onto my innocent child's face.
Yesterday, Ljubomir went to grab Lev's fingers, and Lev wrapped them tightly around his bottle. So Ljubomir put his finger onto the top of the bottle nipple--the part Lev sticks in his mouth and sucks milk out of--and pushed his grimy index finger, covered in poopie water, Windex and boiler grease, on the top of the nipple and wobbled it back and forth.
Now, I don't have an issue with Ljubomir. First of all, he's my boyfriend. Second, he's Macedonian and Romanian. If such a thing is even possible.
But Lev. Couldn't you have at least had the decency to brush his hand away, the way you do mine, when, having just been scrubbed with hand sanitizer, I offer you a spoonful of organic mushed peas?
On the other hand, if Lev decides to do his junior years study abroad in eastern Europe, he will already be immunized. And if Lev ends up being an elevator repairman well, so be it. In this era of alienated urban living, when nobody knows your name, it's nice to have a touch of old world Europe in the apartment building.
It takes a village.