There’s a certain amount of arbitrariness that goes into one’s career choice, let alone a kid just out of college. I fell into writing after some school newspaper experience, looking to my parents for advice (my father is a writer), and a realization that my (now ex-) girlfriend was moving to
I had played around with living in
One of the reasons that it’s such a big move is the godforsaken apartment search. Broker fees, snubbed craigslist messages, conversations lost in translation, and furniture in cabs are all par for the 110 street course. What ultimately gets your ball in the hole is a bag full of compromise. I ended up - after more than a month searching and another at my ex-girlfriend’s – on the
The first person that opened up this Dorothy’s wide blue eyes was Ralph, our super. Portly, Puerto Rican, and passive, Ralph took the “intend” out of superintendent. Contacting him to fix something as simple as a door handle was an arduous process - a surprise considering his ubiquitous Bluetooth bud. On a number of occasions he would arrive sweating and frowning. It seemed as though he was angry with me for the routine maintenance that almost any apartment would require. It made me wonder about the service that the other tenants (especially the older ones) were receiving if they couldn’t stay home on a Thursday afternoon or subject themselves to two weeks of phone tag with the management company. I soon learned.
A couple of months into our stay, Emilia’s cousin, Lucy, from
There was an evasive, fetid odor that lurked around our refrigerator and we had searched high and low for a dead rat (they were only to be found in infant form on our stairs), rotting fruit (only in the abyss that existed between our building and the one behind us), or yeast fermentation (only in
One day when the dry cleaners in our basement had turned off our water, I went to the bodega around the corner to buy a bottle to brush my teeth. Upon my retreat I was followed by the bearded shelf-stocker and watched as he completed a covert transaction in front of my building. That accounted for the little baggies that had been accumulating next to the mini-rats on our stairs, but I didn’t think it had anything to do with the men in and out of our building (who accidentally knocked on our apartment door at 3 am and disappeared), the Männenkalender (and various other types of pornography strewn across the landings), or The Titanic Trojan Toss.
This, I found, was all attributable to our next-door neighbor, a woman in her early 40s with an Eastern European accent, a penchant for house music on Sunday mornings, and a seemingly infinite supply of Huge Boss men’s underpants (our hallway was plentiful with their empty boxes). What was most impressive about her wasn’t her clientele or even their devotion to her – one admirer even taped roses and a love letter to her door. No, it was The Toss. I grasped her disdain for throwing condoms and their wrappers into the trash and tried to not flinch at her implementation of what David Cross so eloquently termed “an urban Johnny Appleseed” mentality. But, The Toss was the surprise of all surprises.
Somehow and at some point, someone transformed themselves from Johnny Appleseed into Johnny Damon and threw a contraceptive out the window, nestling it perfectly on a cable wire above the abyss. It has not fallen, nor do I believe that it ever will.
And, surprisingly, I haven’t fallen out of step with