Friday, March 02, 2007

Reason #573 Life Is Harder in New York (In Which I Find Myself Naked, Wet, and On All Fours)

If I lived anywhere else in the country, I'd have myself a cute little four-bedroom house, purchased for five measly thousand down, and a $1,500 a month mortgage. It would have a shiny washer and dryer, and I would faithfully clean out the lint filter. I would have a car in the garage (garage!), and I would conscientiously change its oil every three thousand miles. I'd have room for a dog to run around. I could have friends over and after drinking much wine with me and talking long into the night, they could sleep in my spare bedroom -- or wherever it was they happened to pass out. I could have big dinner parties and sit out on my porch in the morning while I drank my coffee. I'd have my own grass. Maybe even a TREE. (Perchance to dream!) As mundane as it sounds, these are luxuries New Yorkers can only conjure up in the sweetest of fantasies. My friends Marie and Jer have just such a thing (hi guys, and congrats on the new kid! Sorry she was such a watermelon!), but hey, they have to live in South Dakota to get it.

And therein -- THEREIN, readers! -- lies the rub.

Because to live in New York, one has to make sacrifices with regard to one's living situation. I've made plenty. I lived in a studio the size of a Starbucks bathroom with a gay man who had a splashy habit of throwing up in mesh garbage cans. I lived in a drafty old brownstone nestled up against the projects, where I was harassed alternately by burrows of scrappy mice and project-dwellers who were as incensed by my gentrification as they were thrilled that they could mug and relentlessly catcall me. I was forced out of my airy loft by greedy developers who wanted to turn it condo and sell it to some rich fucking I-banker instead of allowing a working class schmuck like me to keep paying rent. Note to Awaye Realty: It's been two years now and those condos STILL aren't sold. Nice way to come in at the peak of the market! Hope you enjoyed that icy cold bath! You got what you deserved, assholes!

Speaking of icy cold baths, I was left fervently wishing for one this morning when I made the beginner's mistake of trying to take a shower at my house. You see, I'm a gym addict so I shower there about 90% of the time. Unfortunately, this lulls me into forgetting the maddening exercise that is trying to shower at home.

For those of you who've never had the pleasure of living in New York City, you might think that running hot water in the shower is something you're entitled to if you pay rent. Wrong! You are laughable and naive.

My apartment, a fourth-floor walkup in a 150-year-old brownstone, apparently hasn't upgraded the plumbing since the days the bathroom was called a "water closet" (or perhaps "an outhouse."). Most days it feels like hot water makes it up through the pipes, and out of my shower head, thanks solely to the ministrations of an emphysemic old man who lives in the basement and has been hired to blow it through a garden hose. Occasionally I get a hot shower with steady water pressure and limited fluctuations in temperature, but if someone downstairs is showering, forget it. Enjoy that trickle of alternating scalding and icy water; it's just like a spa treatment! IN HELL.

So anyway today, having just slathered conditioner on my head and soaped up my entire body, the emphysemic man apparently went off to take a nap in the corner. Because the water pressure dropped to zero, and nothing came out of the shower head. I stood there, goose bumps rapidly covering me, with soap and conditioner running into my eyes. Cursing the heavens, I tried to figure out how to get out of this pickle. Heat up a bucket on the stove? Walk downstairs and use the neighbors' shower (although, I assume, they were already in it -- hence the problem)? Immediately proceed naked to the airport, where I would throw in the towel (ha!) and move to a reasonable state where it's not too much to expect to take a shower at home?

After awhile, I thought maybe if the water couldn't make it out the shower head, it might make it out the bathtub spout. And sure enough, I was able coax out a modest trickle.

And that, my friends, is how I found myself shivering and naked, on the floor of my bathtub on all fours, my head tipped upside down under the faucet, trying to get conditioner out of my hair and splash water on my soapy armpits.

Literally and figuratively, it was something of a new low in my ongoing quest to live with dignity in this city.

Today, New York, YOU WIN. You WIN, ok?


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