Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tempted New York

I had been thinking a lot about moving to Manhattan, but battling with the idea of trading my currently calm surroundings of statewide, littered 2 story buildings and strip malls for the hustle bustle of preoccupied, perhaps a tad self-important new yorkers pouring out of skyscrapers at odd hours of any day. I feel like if one has the opportunity, cities like London, New York and Tokyo are must-live-in places, especially in the absence of kids and family.

I gave my notice to the management office of my apartment and now, whether i like it or not, I've to be out of my place by the end of the month. Looking for an apartment is a daunting task. Looking for an apartment in Manhattan is a daunting task and a half. It so happens I had to be out in Ohio last week, and I’ll be back there again next week. I attempted a bit of apartment hunting this weekend and here Sunday evening approaches with nothing to rave about.

I went up in Spanish Harlem to see two apartments, one of which reminded me a the meqabir houses you'd see in the country side in Ethiopia - tiny, windowless and dark. The street scene, on the other hand, was my kinda scene. I've never liked prim and proper places. Harlem streets, in my opinion, have personalties you can never characterize. This time a rushed Hispanic man stopped me and fired a couple of inquisitive sentences. I responded, 'No hablo Espanol', with a weak smile in what I know is a decent accent (well, Americans have a knack for butchering pronunciations and I'm not there yet) . He looked at me for a second more and walked on. (Ok, I speak a bit of Spanish but I hear it less, and specially less when it's fired at me at 5 words/second rate). Then there was an old man sitting with a very nice pile of stereo system, drumming well (very well, to my untrained ears) to blasting Caribbean music. A block lower was a lady who screeched away on a microphone in Spanish. She paused in between to interject 2 or 3 English sentences, the gist of which was, 'Evil, evil is no good for you. Evil takes away your ignorance.' I do hope she meant innocence, or arrogance. Maybe she means both. Oh wait, the latter is ... bah ... who knows what she meant.

The better of the apartments was owned by a guy who turned out to be a funny Israeli who's lived in new york for 'toity' years. 'Twenty?', I asked. 'No, Toity'. Huh? 'Toity, toity ... three... zero'. Oh. I don't know if that's an Israeli thing. 'I hate rent', he told me. I told him, likewise, and if he figures out a way for me to have that apartment sans rent, I'd take it on the spot. He pauses for a bit and goes, 'You mean like a sugar daddy?' I guess I had that one coming. I told him that, in my book, would still be considered as rent.

I filled out an application and pointed out that somebody will have to clean the kitchen more. He called me back and said, 'let me see your knees'. What? 'let me see your kneeeees'. I'm standing right there in a pair of jeans. I stare on. I had no clue what he was getting at. 'Good knees!', he goes, 'Woman, get down on your knees and do some cleaning.' I briefly thought of a HBO documentary I saw last week of Billie Jean King handing Bobby Riggs a pig symbolizing male chauvinism at their Battle of the Sexes match in '73. But this man was laughing at his own joke so hard that I'd to let it go. Later we walked by the kitchen when he said, 'oh, gross', like a 13 year old kid. I said, 'Exactly!'. But surely, he must have seen it before.

On my way out of the city, I parked my car 'near' (4 avenues out) my office to grab my laptop. I was legging it and on the phone with a zemed when i noticed a car slowing down on my right and a man saying something which appeared to be directed to me. I figured he was asking for directions. I got closer to the curb, leaving a parked car between myself and this car. There were three men in the car, the one in the driver's seat yelled out,

'I've been waiting for you for 30 minuites. You never showed up.'



It took me a while to acknowledge that there was no way I could have misconstrued a question for directions into that statement. I start laughing and walk away. The car continues to crawl at my pace.

'Come on. Let's go have breakfast'.

I keep talking on the phone but the guy is relentless.

'What do you say ? Let's go to a MacDonald's'

At this point I start laughing again and ask my zemed when MacDonald's started serving a breakfast menu, and more importantly, when did pick up lines become so bizarre as, 'hey babe, let's go have breakfast at a MacDonald's'. I glance towards the car, nod my head yeah-rrrrite, and continue walking.

The next thing I know the guy has pulled the car into a spot by a fire hydrant and is following me saying, 'Let's at least have a talk, sweetie ... I'll make it up to you', when it occurred to me, holy shit, he thinks I'm somebody else.

I opted to bolt. I was in mid-town at 11am. I didn't expect anything weird to happen, but I crossed the street and hastened my pace. The next time I looked back either he'd given up the chase, or become indistinguishable in the crowd. I stayed in my office for an hour before I made it back in the streets again.

The thing is, when you start apologizing to a girl who you presumably ... let's say, slept with but can't even remember what she looks like, shouldn't there be a rule of thumb as to how far you'll go to apologize ... for whatever it is that you've done?

And for heaven's sake, don't take her to a McDonald's!

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