Seeking Emily Post in Kuwait

(Written January 2012) “Dear Ms. Emily Post, we received a lavish assortment of luxury chocolates and porcelain Limoges boxes presented on a silver platter from our landlords this year for the holidays. We’ve never actually met them, so in hunting down their contact information I came upon an important fact: our landlord is related to royalty, and he owns most of our neighborhood. I’m assuming our thank you note needs to be a little more formal than, ‘Your Highness, thanks so much for the chokies!’ Any suggestions for thanking royalty for an extravagant pile of chocolates would be greatly appreciated. As an aside, he's somehow connected to the Al Sabah family, who has ruled Kuwait since 1752, in case that adds another layer of formality.”

I haven’t sent it off yet (is there even still an “Emily Post” out there?), but nor have I sent the thank you note. I learned all about our landlord one day while sitting at our dining table watching a carpenter swap out our door handle. We finally put in a request to change our front door’s locking mechanism, primarily after I lost my set of keys in the house and was essentially locked in for two days (I’ve since found my keys).

Spot on nine the next morning, the buzzer buzzed and I went out to meet two men, one of whom was the spitting image of the Keymaker in “The Matrix.” This was apparently the Carpenter. They checked out our door, did some measurements, then said they’d be back, and they left. Just before their arrival, two other men had come to hook up the dryer’s vent, and they were working down the hall in the laundry room. When they went to leave one of them asked me, “Did I hear the Carpenter?” And I said yes, and explained that he’d had to go get supplies. Apparently the man truly has no name.

It took a few hours, and more than one trip to the store, but finally the Carpenter was able to outfit our door with a proper handle and locking mechanism, so no one could be locked in again, or at least not as easily. While I watched them work (I’m never sure what to do, do I hover, do I linger, do I read a book, do I watch TV?), the Carpenter told me the history of our house, including our landlord's status and the fact that it's been rented out to expats for the last ten years.

I had been nagging my husband to get some contact information for the landlord so I could write the thank you note, but upon learning this I backed off. I think I may be out of my depth here. So now, back to Ms. Post.