Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Going Down in NYC: Part 2

Once I had the Murray Hill apartment secured, I realized that this neighborhood is where frat boys and people that love pinstripes and no nightlife come to die. Yet, I quickly transitioned into planning mode and went shopping for a new wardrobe. The possibility of actually needing to don layers of clothing versus wanting to in order to achieve magazine styles made me more excited than observing Britney's head-shaving meltdown. I was deeply into the ubiquitous layered look of the Lane Bryant catalogue. After I acquired the staple pieces for my closet, I began to coordinate the actual move to the new metropolis.

As we were in the height of summer, the most important machinery needed, after a hair dryer, was an air conditioning unit, the kind that shoots out of a window. I hail from the land of the HVAC, and central air remains imperative in most places I frequent. Sweating: only apropos during intercourse, sauna-ing or sun-bathing by a pool and/or beach. I'm convinced that's why the "third world" countries are third world...because they do not possess central air capabilities. I put on my best white-trash-wife-beater and daisy dukes and dialed Home Depot in Manhattan:
Me: "Hi, I need an AC unit for an apartment I’m leasing starting August 1st."
Home Despot: "What size unit and what type of outlet?"
Me: Silence.
Home Despot: "We'll need those to ensure we give you the proper product."
Me: "Ummm. Sorry, I thought we were at a gay bar for a second. I'm guessing the window is about 24 inches wide, and it's just a simple plug in the wall. I didn't know plugs had types. How can we mitigate this situation based on my lack of knowledge?"
Home Despot: "We'll need that info..."
Me: "Can you go to my apartment and look? I'm already back in Atlanta arranging my move."
Home Despot: "I'm sorry we can't do that."
Me: "Fine. I’ll take my chances. If you look to the left of your desk you'll see an outlet, I'm sure. It'll look like that."
Home Despot: "Ooook. How many BTUs?"
Me: "Oh! Ha! I googled this. I need 10,000 BTUs, please."
Home Despot: "Okay, great. And is this in the window or in a slot beneath the window?"
Me: "Slot for $200, Alex."
Home Despot: "I'm sorry, sir, but it looks like we're all out."
Son of a mother-fucking bitch. I wanted to cry, and I could already discern the pellets of sweat spotting my self-tanner. I asked a few NYC colleagues what to do, and they directed me to a place called P.C. Richards. Once I determined it branded a store and not an unfortunately named man or gentleman caller in a freezer, I placed an order for a 10,000 BTU unit with a "regular" plug for $800, including shipping and installation. Mr. Richards is a costly bastard, but he had the goods.

My next task involved booking the movers. By movers, I mean my father and myself armed with a dolly and a U-Haul. The ordering process proved relatively simple; however, the actual execution of u-hauling my life to the North literally sucked ass. I managed to distract myself from moving and snag Britney Spears tickets in Atlanta the night prior to the exodus. This served as my first viewing of her post-meltdown, so my friends Amanda and Devan and I refused to miss the spectacle of the Circus tour. Britney personified everything you thought she'd be. She didn't sing; she white-knuckled a corset the entire time; and her dance moves satirized stretches before the Special Olympics. Needless to say, we paid for a fabulous time singing and dancing. The concert concluded before midnight, and I shot a 5-Hour Energy, picked up my father, straddled the U-Haul and headed to the highway.

U-Hauls lack a serious sense of humor along with the ability to accelerate over seventy miles per hour. I assembled a mental note to not send the U-Haul a Facebook friend request after our trip together. Somewhere between Obama's whereabouts and the Amish, I deigned to test the speed limit and weave in and out of traffic to expedite our journey. This maneuver resulted in the truck swaying onto two wheels and nearly toppling over in four lanes of traffic at sixty-eight mph. My father also decided to start having heart palpitations from the shock of our near-fatal oopsie. I careened the truck over to the shoulder and asked him if he could walk it off because I wanted to strut into New York before 5:00pm. "If you took better care of yourself, we wouldn't be waiting for your heat attack to subside."

We survived the sixteen-hour drive and arrived in the city at 5:30pm. On my previous trip, I measured the apartment and attacked the wood floors with blue painter's tape to mark off where my furniture would reside and ensure adequate space. I was beyond pleased with myself for calculating everything as I initiated the first of twenty-three trips up and down four flights of stairs. Daddy unloaded the truck only and opted out of climbing the stairs with items because "you know, my heart." Despite my yard-stick-ingenuity, I failed to measure the stairwell, and on the twenty-fourth trip, daddy and I discovered that my queen-sized box spring could not squeeze through the corridors. I tactfully became irate and hacked at the hallway ceiling with a lamp to buy us a few more inches of space. As the white plaster accumulated on the stairs, I halted my renovations and screamed. I left a message with the mayor's office saying that the city's blatant disregard for tall people that do not like to sweat is abhorrent, and I would like him to form a committee to regulate this problem ASAP.

I had to dispose of the bed, and Goodwill informed me they didn't want it. I told them I understood because homeless people are typically short. Leaving the bed frame, headboard, mattress and box spring on the front stoop of my building seemed tacky. Luckily, I noticed that the high rise next to my building housed a dumpster with various odds and ends strewn about. A stove, refrigerator and used tampons. Daddy and I lugged my bed over to the dumpster, and as I exhaled with relief, he said "there's a security camera right there. Could we get arrested for littering?"

"Fuck it," I said, walking by the U-Haul and properly trashing the three parking tickets stuck on the windshield.

By this time, my mom's plane arrived and we decided to get a midnight dinner at a French restaurant two blocks away. When the waiter asked for my father's order, I answered for him: "He’ll have a steak, medium, topped with Gorgonzola cheese and a side of double-fried fries with mayo."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Going Down in NYC: Part 1

When I was six and first watched Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster in "Taxi Driver," New York City ensnared my impressionable senses. I knew I had to move there. Even though the movie debuted in 1976, I figured a written letter to Jodie would still satisfy my specific questions to be move-in ready.

"Dear Jodie,

I don’t want to take up too much of your time. Suffice it to say, I loved your prostitute performance. You nailed it.

So, can you please offer assistance on my relocation to Manhattan? I need a list of desirable street corners and viable movers that specialize in Little Tikes merchandise.

Also, any help in securing me Robert's personal trainer would really give you extra points in my book. I’m looking for a similar set of abdominal muscles.


Chad Dooley"
Jodie never wrote back, which pissed me off until I saw her in "Nell." After that I felt nothing but pity for her and her battered breasts. As I traversed through grade school and my testicles began to descend at an alarming pace, the New York move drifted from memory. However, ten years later, the city yanked me back into her clutches when I accidentally stumbled upon an episode of "Sex and the City." The series title excited me in a time of extreme horniness, as the fuzzy Spice channel refused to cooperate, necessitating another venue. My channel surfing brought me to HBO with its provocative title. You can imagine my displeasure to see Sarah Jessica Parker waiting to be seated at a trendy restaurant rather than naked people penetrating each other on a loop. My penis was not happy with this new direction in stimulation. After the erection deflated and blood flowed easily back to my head, I noticed the city's architecture, late-nineties fashions and Kim Cattrall's parallels to Jodie Foster in "Taxi Driver." I had to get there somehow.

The chance to head north did not occur for about a decade after that fateful night. My employer at the time offered me a job in Manhattan, and the erection returned. I closed out my Craigslist search of nearby homosexuals, aged twenty-two to thirty-five, and investigated apartment listings in zip codes 10011 and 10010. Those areas exude youngness and gayness with a little grit, much like Fifty Cent. When I received my offer letter the next day and cried out "What the fuck is this salary?" I promptly changed the zip code filter to 10014. While still in Manhattan, 10014 diametrically opposed my standards, as it looks like J. Crew threw up on "The Diary of Anne Frank" - preppy and Jewish. On their own, preppiness and my Jewish brethren sparkle, but together they’re just too much to swallow. I also refused to do borough. I spoke to Ukrainian landlords, Hasidic tenants and uncouth female brokers. What kind of hellish operation was the apartment industry running? They told me that apartments go off the market in a matter of hours and one had to be pre-approved by some sweaty Italian asshole in a pee-stained wife-beater that runs whatever building on whether or not a place could be "awarded." This was a major dubs-tee-eff moment. Snooki's father could determine my housing fate based on my credentials, a young, queer professional with impeccable taste and cautiously silent visitors in the middle of the night? And, I'm white.

I scheduled several appointments and flew up the city for a long weekend to meet Snooki's father and visit Little Ukraine. Luckily, my friend Bryan, a Manhattan resident for years, offered to be my escort for the weekend and basically make decisions for me. We exhausted an entire Saturday afternoon in ninety-degree August heat looking at some of the most fetid, poorly lit places I've ever witnessed. And, I've been to Vegas. We've all heard the apartment horror stories in this city, but this shit happened to me, so that made it real. Tucked away in the ninth floor of a luxurious tenement building in Midtown West, a true one bedroom sounded promising. However, cobalt blue paint blighted all of the doors, and what was I'm sure gunshot holes speckled several of them. I can live with bullets, but chipped blue doors are never acceptable unless on the set of "Law & Order: SVU." After that experience, viewing a studio apartment in the Lower East Side with a lofted bed above the two-burner stove failed to shock me.

Luckily, I dropped five pounds of water weight in the heat. Bryan and I endured about fifteen apartment visits that weekend, and the last place we saw was "the one." I don't mean like "The Bachelor" the one but more like "The Biggest Loser" the one. Craigslist actually came through for me this time. I found a large studio with two dusty windows, a dorm-sized refrigerator, and two - count 'em - two closets in Murray Hill. It also exceeded my price range and perched itself on a fourth-floor walkup, so I had to acquire it at any means necessary. I interrupted the property broker's conversation with a tiny Indian woman that surprisingly did not reek of curry. She was gunning for the apartment as well. I introduced the broker to my bank statements and said "I will top whatever she offers, and if I continue to sell my body at Manhattan prices, you'll never have an issue with late rent payments or five screaming kids in one apartment."

I knew Jodie would approve wherever she was.