I first met Thilda eighteen months ago. Her grand daughter, Lucia, had invited me round to see the family home, an early 1940’s Art Deco residence, and partake of a late tea. Her granny had bought the place 50 years ago she explained, it was to big for her now and as I was vaguely toying with the idea of settling in Buenos Aires maybe it would suit me. Tea with anyone’s 89 year old granny can be a bit of an ordeal, so I can’t say I was brimming with enthusiasm but I was also intrigued. At that time I harboured the last vestiges of expectation of becoming reasonably wealthy (via the projected value of my environmental technology company) despite the market having reduced the adventure side of the venture capital market to the dry husk of its former succulence. However, I could see still imagine myself living in 40’s elegance, a louche polo playing playboy in the finest location in the city.
That the granny was still a practicing psychiatrist of the divan persuasion, who along with her eminent, analysis inclined husband had spawned a dynasty of mind mechanics, was also intimidating. What would she make of the fact that I was going out with her grand daughter who was half my age?
“Have you had work done? If so it’s very good. You look young for your age,” was Thilda’s conversational opener. She obviously didn’t come from the let’s beat around the bush school of psychiatry. As I was fumbling for a response about healthy lifestyle and balanced diet Thilda lugged over a three kilo crystal ashtray.
“Lucia tells me you smoke, and drink whiskey. Which would you like?” She pulled several bottles from the sitting room bar. “This ones 25 years old, this I think is 30, the other I’m not too sure.”
I looked over at the various offerings. The 2 litre of Johnny Walker Black was unopened, the others had already offered up a few nips. “I didn’t know JW did a 30 year old.”
“No, I think they bottle it at 5, but I was given it by a patient 25 years ago and have kept it for the right occasion ever since.”
Hmm, thought I.
“When you buy my home I will leave you the rest of the bottle,” said she. Damn, she already knew how to ring my bells.
Following a linguistic slip on my part (well we were talking Spanish), the difference between psychiatrists and psychologists was quickly expounded to me. Psychiatrists are medically qualified and thus allowed to prescribe. If the dose of whiskey was anything to go by I know where I’ll be going for my happy pills.
Half way through said half pint of whiskey I was feeling comfortably relaxed. Lucia sadly wasn’t, as her granny eagerly dished out the kind of “relationship” advice guaranteed to mortify a younger relative. These Freudians don’t have many taboos but they do have a sense of humour it seems.
Then glass in hand, I got the grand tour. Improvements were suggested. The previous owner had built the whole building and the two top floors were his personal “Petit Hotel”. “You’ll have to take out that wall,” Thilda asserted. “And rip up these carpets. It’s all Slovenian oak parquet underneath.”
Glass empty I left with that odd whiskey blurred premonition that both the apartment and its majestic dueña were destined to remain in my life!