This is a tale I have been meaning to tell for quite some time. I was held back by fear of discovery, by fear of what a simple Google search might wrought. If they ever knew…if they ever found out…the consequences would have been catastrophic.
I fear no more.
In a sense, this is not a new story – truly, what story is ever new? It is, if you will, a tale as old as time. This is a tale of good versus evil. It is a tale of right versus wrong. It is a tale of sanity versus unbridled what-the-fuckery. It has agony. It has deceit. It has floss. Mountains upon mountains of floss.
This is the tale of my landlords in New York.
When I enrolled as a graduate student at Prominent High-Brow University, I had the choice of spending my spring semester in either London or New York. For me, there was no question: it had to be New York. It was to be the fulfillment of my very dear, very cliche, high school dream. (High school kids, come up with more creative dreams). I partnered up with a fellow student, an impossibly cool hipster named Lizzy, and we began our search for the most perfect New York apartment through the most reliable of sources: Craigslist.
Of course, the most perfect New York apartments cost somewhere in the neighborhood of eleventy-bajillion dollars per month (discount if you promise the landlord the still-beating heart of your first-born child). “Most perfect” went out the window. So did “barely tolerable” and “definitely-not-a-crack-den.” Eventually, we decided to settle for the “there’s-a-decent-chance-we-won’t-be-stabbed-here-in-broad-daylight” New York apartment.
We did what any good art history graduate students would do: we researched the crap out of Craigslist. We spent weeks carefully cultivating a list of prospects. We had both heard enough horror stories to know that we couldn’t agree to any place sight unseen so we would have to make the trek to NYC. Being the good art history graduate students that we were, we didn’t exactly have a lot of time. We only had one weekend in November for the trip. That gave us less than forty-eight hours to run blindly through the largest city in the country, weed out the “definitely-a-crack-den” options, and make a decision. We got organized. We got prepared. We made appointments. I downloaded the NYC subway map app.
Lizzy and I boarded the DC to NY Chinatown bus late on what would become a fateful Friday night in November. We finally rolled in around 1:00 AM. As late as it was, I was not too tired to take in the awe of the city. I stared at everything and snapped pictures like the most touristy of tourists. I was too tired, however, to remember the real name of What’s-His-Face, Lizzy’s friend who was letting us crash with him in Brooklyn. And I was definitely too tired to bar hop in sketchy parts of Brooklyn for the next three hours. Which we did. Even though we had about eight different locations to scope out in the morning.
After about three hours of sleep and four cups of coffee (for me – hipsters run on pure essence of their hipsterness), we began the search. Our first stop on Saturday was our least likely prospect. We had added it at the very last minute because the couple renting the space was just so damn persistent. The space was, if pictures could be believed, definitely not a crack den. In fact, there was an entirely possible chance we would never be stabbed there outside of the hours of 2:00-6:00 AM. It seemed too good to be true. The ad described a room in a “light-filled” apartment in the West Village for $2,000. The room would be ours but we would share the apartment with the couple. It was far and away out of our price range so Lizzy and I decided we should look at it first to get it out of the way.
First impressions count a lot when looking for a place to live. For the record, that neighborhood in the West Village makes a fabulous first impression. We took a peek at our subway map app and discovered that there was a direct subway line from one end of the block to school in Midtown. There was Starbucks on either end of the street and we were only a ten minute walk from Magnolia Bakery, also known as Cupcake Mecca. Then we saw the building itself and a little part of us began to cry. The building was this mouthwatering five-story brownstone with a bright red door – just like every perfect New York brownstone that all those TV shows and movies unrealistically insist that every real New Yorker lives in. Lizzy and I both gave a little groan of longing as the couple buzzed us up. We stepped in the elevator, which shuddered adorably as it climbed to the top floor, and we knew that all of our other prospects were going to fall far short of this place.
Mr. and Mrs. West Village, in my infinite wisdom of NYC as gleaned from watching Sex and the City ad nauseum, struck me as very classic New York. They seemed to carry off this odd amalgamation of glamour, bohemia, and New Age. They were both born and raised in Manhattan – she had lived in the West Village most of her life. She was a photographer and he was an art dealer of some sort. They were both raised Jewish but were practicing Buddhists. They only ate organic, of course, but most restaurants nearby were organic anyway (obviously). They had a house in Long Island and were hardly in the apartment anymore these days. A cleaning woman came to the apartment every two weeks so we never needed to worry about making a mess. They seemed eager to take us on right away, ready to take a down payment. We told them we had some more apartments to check out, mostly in Brooklyn. “Oh, you can’t live in Brooklyn, dolls,” Mrs. West Village said smugly. “You’ll come back here.” Lizzy and I both knew we could never afford the place, and so we took one last wistful look and begrudgingly went on to view lesser apartments.
The search quickly descended into a long and arduous expedition. The NYC subway system proved to be infinitely more complicated than the DC Metro (stupid useless subway map app). Not only that, but it took a lot longer to get from one place in the city to another than we thought it would. We had to cancel appointments simply because there was no way we would make it on time and people didn’t want to wait for us. When we did make it to an appointment, well, it was just one problem after another. There was the two-bedroom apartment in Midtown that four girls already lived in…and they expected us all to share one bathroom. There was the gorgeous place in Brooklyn but the dude wanted a commitment through September and our semester ended in May. Then there was that other place in Brooklyn that was definitely in the vicinity of at least one legitimate crack den. Plus, there was a screaming baby who lived downstairs.
We felt somewhat defeated on Sunday morning. What’s-His-Face and Some Other Guy took us to a place on the Lower East Side for brunch. Lizzy and I fiddled with our poached eggs as we ran through our options one more time. The West Village room not only our favorite space, but it turned out to be our only legitimate option. We were not prepared for this. We couldn’t afford this. But there was literally nothing else we could do. We didn’t have another chance to come to New York before the semester started. We couldn’t be homeless for the first few weeks of school. Lizzy decided we should call the West Village couple and explain our predicament. They seemed so nice—maybe they would lower their asking price. So Lizzy called. Mrs. West Village answered. Not only would they lower the rent, but they were home right now and we could come over and settle the whole thing before our bus had to leave in two hours.
We should have known something was off when they asked us to help pay for the cleaning woman. We should have known when they didn’t have a formal lease for us to sign. We should have known after looking at her less-than-mediocre photography. But we didn’t know. We gave them our money. They gave us keys. We were panicking. They were there. They seemed normal.
We were doomed.
It’s that time of year. The time during which we are bombarded by holiday pop culture icons we have come to know and love. You know what I mean…that deer with the floodlight nose, a boy with blue blanket quoting the Gospel of Luke, 19th century ghosts, Will Ferrell. Of course, this time of year this means we must contend with the most villainous of all holiday characters: Frosty the Snowman.
I hate Frosty. I loathe and despise him. He is a frozen fiend, mocking and mangling an otherwise joyous time of year. I invite you to examine the evidence I have accumulated against him over the years.
Exhibit A: He is a thief.
Frosty stole that hat. He stole it from the magician. What’s worse, he uses his influence over the children to prevent them from realizing the right thing to do is return to the hat. He is leading children, our innocent children, down the path of immorality.
Exhibit B: His thievery is stifling the economy.
The magician threw away his hat because he thought it didn’t work. He thought he was a failure. When it proved to have magical powers, of course he wanted it back! He is a professional magician. This is his livelihood! This is his means of putting food on the table! He might have a family for all we know. He might have a mortage. Furthermore, think of all he could do with that magic hat. He could open a magic shop and hire magic shop employees. He could be a small business owner! The hat is his contribution to the country’s economy! Frosty doesn’t contribute anything with that hat. Except lawlessness and general mayhem.
Exhibit C: He openly flouts basic traffic safety regulations.
And I quote: “He led them down the streets of town right to the traffic cop, and he only paused a moment when he heard him holler STOP!”
Exhibit D: Thumpity thump thump = blunt force trauma.
What is he doing with that broomstick? Thumpity thump thump? Running here and there all around the square, singing “catch me if you can?” He’s beating people down with the broomstick and running off, taunting them in his wake.
Exhibit E: His soul is a deep, dark abyss of unspeakable horror.
How do I know this? His eyes are made of coal. What kind of creature has eyes made out of coal? Coal! What naughty children receive instead of presents! The black, dusty consequence of evil doing! His eyes, the windows to the soul, are made of that which all children fear most! If his eyes are coal, what is his soul made of? What must it look like? I shudder to think of it. Jolly, happy soul? That’s what he wants us to think.
Exhibit F: Frosty is the product of a marketing nightmare.
Frosty was a holiday special by Rankin/Bass aka all the people responsible for the old-school stop motion holiday movies. Frosty was the first and only one that isn’t stop-motion. Meaning they didn’t care enough to try. Meaning they just wanted to get yet another Christmas special out there they could market, retail, and sell. Yes, the song came first but that doesn’t make it much better. Frosty the Snowman was specifically written for Gene Autry to follow up on the “Rudolph” craze. And in turn, “Rudolph” was originally a coloring back from the 1930’s made by a department store.
I guess I should hate Rudolph most of all, for starting this whole concept of creating holiday specials for the sole purpose of regurgitating them every year for money (like the stupid ABC Family movies) and making all kinds of merchandise. But that movie actually has really interesting messages about bullying and how society should embrace diversity.
But Frosty’s movie? Just shows he’s a jerk.
We got a cat.
WOE, WOE TO ALL MICE!
Pictures of my new killa to follow.
There is a mouse in my house. Correction: there HAS BEEN a mouse in my house. I have been trying to get rid of him/her since week one.
My allergies have recently discovered that we are no longer in Arizona anymore. Upon that discovery, that have decided to attack my lungs with an army of thousands. My lungs have survived the initial invasion but I’m afraid my throat has suffered heavy casualties. Benadryl, green tea, and a new A/C filter are currently launching a counter-offensive with damage mounting on both sides.
My mother and I got caught in the rain last night. Reallllllly wish I hadn’t shipped my umbrella. This was unlike any kind of rain I’ve seen. There was no slight sprinkling, no time to point out “Hey! I think it just might be raining.” No. Someone turned the rain on. One second no rain, next second it’s a deluge. I now know where the term “sheets of rain” comes from. The rain looked thick, if that makes any sense at all, and was coming down in perfectly straight drops.
The little shower storm didn’t last all that long so we didn’t get drenched. As we walked home from dinner, I started to hear a lot of strange noises. The kind of little noises that are probably caused by little creatures. Rustling I’m fine with. Geckos rustle. Cute little cottontail bunnies rustle. SQUEAKING on the other hand I am NOT fine with. I heard SQUEAKING and I started to freak out. Then I saw some bushes MOVE and something WAS KNOCKED OVER AND I’M PRETTY SURE A RAT DID IT. I screamed and ran for the front door of my apartment with my mother laughing behind me.
After the incident with the alleged rat, I was safely inside my apartment but the creature noises did not subside. I heard chirping and thought it to be crickets, until I realized the chirps were too random. Yup, it was frogs. Lots and lots of frogs. I am not used to frog noises. It was a little creepy. The last time I heard a frog, it was on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland which means the frogs only existed courtesy of Disney magic.
Now there is an unknown, sporadic beeping that sounds like it’s coming from downstairs. I’m pretty sure the apartment doesn’t have a doorbell and who would be trying to ring anyone’s doorbell at 6:30 in the morning? I think it might be coming from the hardware store…I shall find out soon.