Our leaving of Switzerland took place in a flurry of cardboard boxes and cleansing powder as I struggled to get the place in shape for the next tenants. This was rather a new chore for me since when I lived in NYC, the only thing you did when moving out of an apartment was make sure you didn’t leave any frozen burritos behind. In Switzerland however, one must leave their apartment SPOTLESS and if you don’t, you’ll be charged a hefty fee of around $1000 to cover the cleaning costs. Most people decide to just hire a professional crew for the job but wanting to save a bit of money, I decided to do it myself. I can honestly say that I have never cleaned so hard or well in my life and that by the time I was finished, it looked so good that I wanted to move back into the apartment myself.
My final step was to fill up all the nail holes in the walls that we’d made when hanging pictures since I’d heard that we’d be charged about $5 per unfilled hole. Every Swiss person I’d talked to had told me that I should just get a tube of white toothpaste and stick a bit in each hole.
Thus I found myself standing in the toothpaste aisle at my local supermarket, attempting to determine which toothpaste to buy. The problem was that I had no idea which ones were white and there was no way of checking inside the tubes without ripping off the tops (I tried). I asked a few people but nobody knew and even stranger, nobody seemed to have ever even heard of filling holes with toothpaste. Considering that at least 5 people OUTSIDE of the supermarket had told me that this was the thing to do, I found it strange that nobody within the supermarket knew what I was talking about. I thought that maybe, as is often the case when I’m trying to speak a foreign language, I just wasn’t explaining myself correctly. Maybe instead of telling people that I wanted to fill in holes in the wall with toothpaste, I was actually telling them that I wanted to paint on the wall with toothpaste or whip up a tasty toothpaste goulash. Maybe that’s why everyone was looking at me in that perplexed fashion with which I’m so familiar by now. But then I realized that I had been making sense when one chic lady with violet tinted hair and alligator pumps marched up to me and told me that what people actually did with the holes in their walls, was to chew up little bits of bread and then use the wet crumbs to fill up the holes. I’d never heard of this technique before but she had an air of authority about her and seemed to know what she was talking about. As she steered me toward the bread aisle, I reflected that perhaps her method might be my best option unless I wanted to head home with a lifetime supply of Swiss toothpaste. I then pictured Alex coming home to find me running around the apartment with a baguette, frantically biting off chunks and then stuffing the glutinous mass of crumbs and saliva into the wall. I left the supermarket empty handed and headed for the nearest hardware store where I invested in a tube of costly white spackle which I plan to hold onto for the rest of my apartment living life.