Yesterday my potential roommate Liz and I went to Park Slope to see an apartment that looked quite promising in light of the fact that she lives in an apartment that has been infected with bed bugs five times in the past eight months and I live in the middle, windowless room in a railroad-style apartment that I share with a couple. The place we went to see was advertised as such on craigslist:
RENT REDUCED**RENT REDUCED**RENT REDUCED**RENT REDUCED**RENT REDUCED**
AVAILABLE AUG. 1 OR SEPT.1 A 3 BEDROOM GUT RENOVATED APT. IN A 2 FAMILY HOUSE IN PARK SLOPE, BROOKLYN ON 13TH ST OFF 4TH AVE. APT. IS LOCATED ONLY 3 BLOCKS FROM M/R/F/N TRAINS AT 10TH ST AND 4TH AVE. EVERYTHING THAT PARK SLOPE HAS TO OFFER IS ONLY A FEW BLOCKS AWAY. ALL 3 BEDROOMS HAVE SEPARATE ENTRANCES WHICH MAKES THIS APARTMENT BEST SUITED FOR SHARES OR A COUPLE LOOKING FOR EXTRA SPACE. HARDWOOD FLOORS IN BEDROOMS AND TILE IN THE EAT-IN KITCHEN. BEDROOMS ARE HUGE AND THERE ARE CEILING FANS IN EVERY ROOM, NEW APPLIANCES AND FIXTURES., 3 LARGE CLOSETS. RENT IS $2900.00 W/1 MONTH SECURITY AND A $50.00 CREDIT CHECK. GOOD INCOME AND EXCELLENT CREDIT IS A MUST. STUDENTS WITH CO-SIGNERS ARE WELCOME. SERIOUS INQUIRES ONLY BY PEOPLE THAT ARE LOOKING FOR A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE. APARTMENT COULD BE SEEN BY APPOINTMENTS ONLY. SEND ME AN EMAIL TELLING ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND TIMES THAT YOU MIGHT BE AVAILABLE TO VIEW THE APARTMENT. SMALL DOGS (UNDER 20LB) UPON APPROVAL W/PET DEPOSIT
It was a sweltering hot Sunday, and Liz was really late so we had to take a taxi all the way to 13th Street and 4th Avenue ($14.60). I surveyed the area as we drove through it. It was...well, not industrial but spare. I had my reservations, but I really wanted to live in Park Slope, first of all, and second of all, I think hunting for an apartment in New York City is much like a colonoscopy: you just want it to be over as soon as possible.
Right as we got out of the cab, I started justifying why the quasi-ghettoness of it was okay.
"There's a Laundromat right on the corner!"
"Hey, a bodega!"
"And it's called SUPERIOR bodega."
"I always believe what I read."
(Later on, after the viewing, as we walk through the neighborhood:
"Oh look, there's another bodega and this one's called My Favorite Deli."
"Yeah, but ours is superior.")
We turned right onto Thirteenth street. Immediately we both imperceptibly start because there is a man sitting on a ledge inside a little fenced off area. He is surrounded by carts filled with bottles and we can see inside his front door (left ajar) to the entryway where there appeared to be a large wall constructed out of various paper products: newspapers, magazines, squashed Heineken boxes, brown paper bags. I have to admit that I didn't get to survey the scene accurately because I was too stunned and also because he was staring at us. He didn't move or speak but he watched us walk down the street.
One of your garden variety New York city bums just lucky enough to find an abandoned house? Nope.
"He's an eccentric millionaire," Julian, our prospective landlord, explained to us. He giggled nervously. "Some people are afraid of him but...I guess that's what --"
"He's an eccentric millionaire?!" I asked.
"An eccentric millionaire," Julian repeated.
"I guess when you have a lot of money you can go crazy."
"That is exactly what I plan on doing." We walked up the narrow stairs to the second floor. "Making a lot of money and then going totally crazy."
(He didn't really understand this, nor did he get it when I later said that we would be good tenants because we were easy-going and clean and "sooo cute." My biggest comedic flaw is that I never know my audience.)
In the end we sort of fell in love with the apartment. There are all new appliances and lots of light and room for a dining room table and all the household wares and decorative accessories females somehow accumulate. Plus, if we befriend the two men who live below us and the tenants in an apartment two buildings down we get access to a sweet backyard set-up and a pool, respectively. (An above-ground pool at that. How retro.) And of course we will make friends with them because, as I said before, we're "sooo cute."
As we walked up the street to check out 5th Avenue (which apparently is "the new 7th Avenue"), I glance over at the Eccentric Millionaire ever so briefly. My mission is clear: I must befriend him and learn his secrets. I will absorb his oddball energy and begin my authentic education in real eccentricity, thereby setting the stage for a gloriously rich and bizarre old age.