Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A fateful trip uptown...

It's a solid 45-minute trip from my midtown office to the 207th Street subway station on the 8th Avenue subway line. I took that trip yesterday with Sarah to get to a 7:00 PM appointment on the corner of 204th and Cooper Street to look at an apartment that was solidly in our price range. That's OUR price range, as in mine and Sarah's, not mine and yours, or mine and Barack Obama's, or mine and the monster from Cloverfield's. Yes, that's right, I decided - in spite of my recent experience losing money, chopsticks, Betta fish, and heaps of my dignity and self-worth - to consider moving in with another woman.

Now, if you're a clear-minded thinker, and if you've ever read the tales of heartbreak of my moving out last year, you might suspect that I prepared for this appointment with a quick trip to the edge of the roof of the Dole factory and a long, slow contemplation of my own mortality. Chuckle, chuckle, I say. Because although the Dole factory is 22 levels tall, only two of those levels are above ground, and the factory is surrounded by a very pillowy layer of soil and grass. The 25-foot fall from the roof would barely be enough to break an ankle. You could take a nap on the way down and not wake up from the impact, assuming you could fall asleep that fast, which I can't - not in these troubled political times of ours, not while a black man and a woman are establishing viable candidacies for President. What's next, a GAY president? NO WAY.

So, speaking of gay, how DID I prepare for this apartment appointment last night? Why, by listening to "Rainbow Tour" from the 1996 original soundtrack recording of Evita (nullus), starring Madonna, Jonathan Pryce, and Antonio Banderas from back when he was still sexy (nullus x2) on my way to meet up with Sarah outside Grand Central Station for the first leg of the aforementioned 45-minute trip. I was calm, I was relaxed, I was even a little bit excited. I was also slightly gassy, but that had more to do with the muenster cheese I fed my lactose-intolerant insides for lunch yesterday, and was obviously not an omen of any kind.

The ride up was uneventful, and we walked over to the southwest corner of 204th and Cooper, where a man named Zeke was supposed to meet us at 7pm. We were three minutes early, and standing out in the cold for a minute or two already before Sarah noticed a voicemail from Zeke indicating that he would be late, but by no more than 10 or 15 minutes. Unfazed by this, we walked to a deli on the corner and bought Peanut Butter M&Ms and a Superfood health drink, in a sort of perfect nutritional yin-yang that demonstrates just how well Sarah and I complement each other. "Mmm," I said after a sip of the Superfood, "you can really taste the wheat grass." Sarah responded by offering me an orange M&M.

7:15 passed without a whisper from Zeke, whom we did not know except for his voice. It was roughly at this point that the chill started to seep into my cheeks and knuckles, and I started to lump all the passersby into two neatly segmented categories: "Zeke" and "not Zeke." Each person who did not introduce himself or herself, who was walking a dog or carrying groceries, or who eyeballed us suspiciously for standing outdoors on a street corner in a residential neighborhood in near-freezing temperatures, fit easily into the "not Zeke" category. As the minutes wore on, I caught myself giving the hairy eyeball to passing cars, certain that Zeke was pulling the old drive-by-to-check-you-out-and-ruin-your-feeble-attempt-to-neatly-categorize-people routine. I hate that routine. The categories themselves seemed to be breaking down. The Superfood was turning slowly into Super Ice. Sarah kept feeding me M&Ms and hugging me so she could leech the small store of warmth I had accumulated within the snuggly confines of my pea coat, and I let her get away with it. What the hay, I thought. What's 40 minutes in 30-degree weather between soon-to-be-cohabitors?

Just as I was asking no one in particular where he was, Zeke finally showed up. I was entirely unprepared to see a man step out of the shadows and headlong into my question. If it had been a comic book, Zeke would have walked right into the bubble coming out of my mouth with the words "where the hell is Zeke?" in it. Zeke headed right toward us with a bag full of papers and a heart full of love. Thankfully, Zeke was deaf, or at least, hard enough of hearing that he didn't hear me asking, somewhat angrily, where he was. That was the good news. The bad news was that, in order to give us the apartment, Zeke was going to want money.

Now, it wasn't just because Zeke was black that I thought at this point of Barack Obama and his viable candidacy for President. I think Barack's sudden appearance at the vanguard of my thoughts had more - much more - to do with the fact that last night was the State of the Union. Frankly, I didn't even know he was black. I thought "Barack O'bama" was Irish, right up until I saw the video of him sitting next to Ted Kennedy last night.

But since I don't have an apartment, much less a DVR set up inside that apartment, I was going to miss the State of the Union, all in the name of getting an apartment. I was going to miss my last chance to watch George Dubya try his hand at public speaking again. All the Superfood and peanut butter M&Ms in the world can't make up for that, or for having to miss a rousing game of State of the Union Bingo. I remember in aught-three, my card had "Osama bin Laden," "nukyulur," "terror," "freedom," and "Iraq" running in a diagonal from the top left to the bottom right. I think I had BINGO inside of four minutes that year.

Anyway, skipping ahead to the part of the night where I was missing GWB spouting his endless platitudes, instead opting to pay a very dark-skinned, not-Irish-at-all man five hundred of my favorite dollars as a deposit against OUR new place, there is now reason to be optimistic that my address will be changing relatively shortly, and that the next time I listen to "Rainbow Tour," it will be on the fully-powered sound system of my HP desktop computer in the middle of MY NEW APARTMENT. And Sarah's too. I sincerely hope she likes Evita. And Barack Obama. I think maybe I should have asked her first. Oh well. At least this time, there are no fish involved.

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