at the synagogue, one of my most complicated relationships was with the building superintendant. upon reflection, it was also one of my most enjoyable. when i read the borrower, it got me thinking about him. the main character's parents were from russia. there were a few other russian characters. they all reminded me of him. an odd turn of phrase here, some stubborness there...
he worked at the synagogue long before i arrived. he had habits that were so deeply entrenched that i was foolish to even attempt to change his behavior. he told me that my predecessor and him never ever butted heads, that she was a wonderful human being. multiple people told me that he and mrs. g had more than their share of fights. in spite of that, i'm pretty sure he loathed me 75% of the time. that other 25%, he was extraordinarily kind and generous. he brought me small sweet gifts when he went on vacation. he always told me when he felt like someone was trying to do me dirt or when they were just simply to be avoided. "troublemaker," he'd whisper. he was spot on in every single case. he and i also shared a love for JM - which meant he was one of the only people in the building toward the end who understood fully just how much everything sucked.
he had a crazy way of fixing things. it more often then not involved duct tape. i will never not think about eugene when i see this scene:
what i really loved about eugene though was the completely wacky things he'd say every now and then. my two favorite eugene-isms and the ones i heard most often were "until i forgot" (before i forget), and "i kill you twice" (i'm really pissed at you).
he had a mad love for his cat, oliver. oliver looked just like dizzy. when i showed eugene a picture of dizzy i bought myself a month of no loathing. he loved cats, he explained, "they are mysterious. they are like woman..." i almost died from giggles. it was all so adorably weird.
but really, the conversation with him that i will never ever, not in a million years forget is this one:
me: are you calling me crazy? what did i do now?
E: (smiling and laughing) no, no. its a greeting. in russia.
E: yes! you know, like boy chicken. they say coo-koo-ri-koo.
me: a boy chicken? you mean a rooster? you mean cock-a-doodle-doo?
E: YES! coo-koo-ri-koo. you say hello to a good morning.
i wrote cookoorikoo on a scrap of paper and put it in my wallet. i would pull it out and giggle every once in awhile. then, one day, i needed a name for my business. i pulled that note out of my wallet and stared at it for a bit. it was the perfectly whimsical word. it was just what i needed.
that scrap of paper is still on my bulletin board. thanks, eugene.