When I moved to New York City, over 9 years ago, it was even harder to find a place to live than it is now....hell, I'd say it was a *lot* harder, now that I think about it. There was no Craig's List, to speak of (I think maybe it was just starting at that point) for one to find ads in, nor was there Facebook/Twitter/Myspace, etc, to help get the word across. There was the Village Voice (the PRINT version), but anything listed in there was almost always GONE by the time you even had a chance to read the ad. There were all kinds of "services" that would supposedly give you "lists" of available apartments if you'd give them, for, like, $200....but most of those were scams, and often, they were just reprints of the Voice ads. Fuckers.
There was one service that I used that *was* legit, and...to the lady who worked there that helped me....wherever she is, God bless your heart, wherever you are....and to my good friend Alfredo, who had a very soft floor in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn for me to crash on for the time-being.
That being said, it was still quite the adventure calling all these people who were looking for roommates, figuring out whether or not they were worth pursuing, and inevitably hopping all over a sweltering New York City (which I didn't know my way around quite yet, but was learning) to look at these apartments and meet these people.
[Overwhelming? Welcome to my life....and maybe yours too, right?]
But I'm writing today to tell you about the best story I picked up while desperately seeking a feasible living space. Some of you who know me might have heard this one, but....this is the type of story that NEVER gets old, and one I will never forget.
So, I saw a listing for a room in a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, right by the corner of 83rd and Broadway, for about $700. So far, so good, right? So, I called this dude, who sounded sane and cool enough in the brief conversation I had with him on the phone. Furthermore, if I remember correctly, I believe I was the first caller, which inspired confidence. So I made an appointment to see meet this guy at his apartment that afternoon, around 3pm. Good shit!
So, I looked at my trusty Subway map and got my ass in gear and went over there....the apartment was on the 8th floor I think....the building at a doctor's office at street level....I got in the elevator, which lifted me to the 8th floor. The first thing I saw when the doors opened up was a "welcome" mat that said, "GET LOST!" I looked at my piece of paper, and was relieved that this was NOT the apartment I was to look at (but it was, indeed, good advice, as we're about to find out). I turned to my left and walked on down to the end of the hall, and knocked on the door.
The door opened up....and what I saw was a weird motherfucker in his mid-fifties....he sort of looked like a way-more-weathered Gary Busey. He was fat, had "gin blossons" on his nose, and had the three long hairs on his head pulled back in a pony tail. No shit. He sort of lunged at me, grabbed one of my shoulders, while "patting" the other one (pretty hard, mind you), sort of pulled me in and bellowed, "HI! HOW are YOUUU?!!!! You must me MARRRRRTY!!!!!" The guy seemed to be perpetually shouting...not in an angry way but....they guy was just too happy in his own skin, especially when it looked like that!
Anyway, we stepped into the living room, where there were two grand pianos, some sheet music strewn on the floor, and some college kid from Laos, who was all of 19-years-old at the very most, lying on a mat in the corner. "THIS IS ONE OF MY TENANTS," the guy said. I wondered how much he was charging this poor kid for a corner of the living room....but it occurred to me quickly that I'd rather not know what the arrangement was.
He led me to the room I was there to look at, which was fine....then we went through the door to the bathroom....then through another door to his room....all the while, he was constantly patting my shoulders....the thought of which still makes me queasy. I guess he wanted to discuss business in his room. Great. "HAVE A SEAT HERE....on the BED", he all but screamed. "Fuck that shit", I was thinking, while I practically jumped into the chair at his desk instead.
So he began telling me his story, with occasional interjections from me. "WELL....I'm an ACTOR and I TEACH PIANO LESSONS in the LIVING ROOM, there, which is why the PIANOS are IN THERE!!!! I go OUT from TIME to TIME, and DRINK and PLAY CARDS.....and I DATE MEN AND WOMEN...."
Which, is fine, but.....
Holy shit, this guy was just too much!!!! Do you remember the dude you were afraid was going to come and GET you when you were a little kid and couldn't sleep? Well, THIS was the GUY!
So, I mentioned that my former girlfriend from back home was to visit me for a week or so, and asked if he would have a problem with that. "NOOOOOO.....NOPE....I can't be HAVING THAT," he roared.
"OK, then," I said, "Um....really nice meeting you anyway!"
It wasn't over yet. Apparently he had to go downstairs for something, so....I had to do what no living organism ever wanted to do, and that was get in the elevator with this guy!
So, in the elevator, he asked me why I moved to New York, and I briefly explained to him that I was a drummer looking for a band.
Without as much as a split second's hesitation, he ROARED, "YEAH!!!! THAT WAY YOU CAN BE A ROCK STAR and FUCK 'EM AAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!!!! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
[I couldn't do anything but laugh my ass off right along with him, if only because....I knew what he meant when he said, "ALL"!