My Apartment

Editors Note: This one is from the archives, circa February 2007.

If you look at a map of the USA, it sort of looks like Florida is America’s wang and California is its butt. Also, I think Hawaii looks like America just took a dump in the Pacific Ocean. The reason I thought of that is because I once heard someone describe the state of New Jersey as the “armpit of America.” In addition to being somewhat armpit-shaped, it’s also smelly and unattractive, or so the conventional wisdom goes. I don’t necessarily agree with that description in its totality-but if it were true, my house would probably be one of the really smelly B.O. molecules.

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**I think in that picture the arrow is pointing more toward Perth Amboy than Newark, I’m not that good with Paint so I can’t change it. Sorry to any Perth Amboy residents I may have inadvertently offended.

I first came upon this monstrosity of a housing facility three days before I started my job in Parsippany. My parents and I were waiting outside for a while for the landlord to let us in, and during that time I had begun to appreciate its quaint outward appearance. Because of the fact that it was an old-style looking house and also there was an empty 30-box of Budweiser in one of the windows, I was reminded of the frat house I lived in sophomore year. The Delta Chi house also looked pretty neat from the outside, but I remember very well that the moment we entered was one of the more traumatic experiences of Tom and Beth’s life. This time was much more traumatic for yours truly.

My landlord finally showed up about 15 minutes later, he was wearing a dust mask and had a bunch of black crap on his face (apparently from doing some construction at one of his other houses). He was holding this huge key ring with about 10 billion keys on it, and started trying out each one of them at random in order to open the front door. After eleven tries or so the door opens, and we are prompted to walk up a dimly lit stairwell. There was a bunch of random miscellanies strewn about the hallway on the second floor, old furniture and books and microwaves and other things that the previous tenants had neglected. The door right next to the stairs going up to the 3rd floor had a bunch of “God Bless America” and “Support Our Troops” stickers on it. At first I though, Oh cool, maybe he’s a big Lynyrd Skynyrd fan but it turns out he’s just some dude who sucks at life. That’s pretty much all I know about that guy, also he once got a letter from the New Jersey Department of Probation, that’s about it though. Some of the other people I live with are slightly more interesting, but equally despicable as well. I’ll try to talk about them a little bit, unfortunately this entry is becoming way too long.

So then we got to my room and the dude starts going over all the ground rules, like how he’ll evict me if I make too much noise or have people over past 10 PM. Whatever, there’s also a weird list of stuff I’m not allowed to have, like extension cords or George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Grilling Machines.

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I later found out about a few special rules my landlord failed to mention. For instance, the guy living adjacent to me knocked on my door one time to tell me that I couldn’t keep my shampoo in the bathroom, because every time we have fire inspections they have to come in and make the bathroom look like a fire escape. I find it disturbing that the Madison Fire Department would walk into our bathroom thinking it was a fire escape, and the only thing that would tip them off would be a bottle of shampoo. I guess they figure some residents might want to wash their hands and look at themselves in the mirror before they escape from a burning building.There’s a bunch of other bathroom-related rules this guy knows about. He stopped me one time as I was leaving for work to tell me that he was putting new grout in the bathroom, and how the bathroom needed to be grouted every few months, and he also seemed to be explaining his entire strategy for optimal grout distribution. It was like “OK, first I’m gonna get this wall, then I’ll do this area right here, hmm I might need an extra layer of grout on that…” Frankly, he could’ve told me he was going to put all the grout up his ass and I wouldn’t have minded, if I can’t even keep my shampoo in there I have more important things to worry about. Between the grimy bathroom and crap-strewn hallways, my parents decided that it was almost as bad as Delta Chi, but not quite so I could live there. Plus I was paying for it and I didn’t have anywhere better to live.

Beth and I were both somewhat intimidated by my crazy mask-wearing landlord, but my Dad was somewhat chattier. “Uh, yea sure, you can kick him out if he causes any trouble,” he says. “So what kinds of people usually live here?”

My landlord replied, “There’s a woman named Sharon who lives across the hall, she’s a divorced waitress. We also get a lot of divorced men living here.” He probably mentioned Sharon because she seemed like the least-sketchy person that lived here. That actually might be true, which is kind of sad.

The couple of times I conversed with Sharon were because I was giving her a ride to some shitty town like Hillside or Irvington. That happened twice, one time her car got towed to Hillside, so I gave her a ride there because I was already late to work and that just gave me a convenient excuse. I didn’t know she needed a ride back though, so apparently she was stranded there. I felt kinda bad about that, even though it wasn’t really my fault, so I gave her a ride another time so she could steal jewelry from her ex-mother in-law or something, I’m not really sure exactly. It was a really long story and I was trying to listen to the Giants/Bucs game on the radio. She was mostly complaining about her ex-husband the whole time, periodically I’d have to interrupt her and be like “Sorry I didn’t hear you; I was listening to the football game instead.” She acted like that offended her a little bit, but if I had said something like “Actually the Giants are up 17-3 in the 4th quarter, I’m merely using football game as a clever ruse to avoid listening to you,” that probably would’ve been more accurate.

You probably think that I hate Sharon, I don’t she’s just kind of annoying. If you don’t believe me, note that later the same day she called the police to our house, on the premise that she heard a bunch of roughians banging on our front door trying to break in and stuff. The fuzz came into my room twice and asked me if I heard anything, which I didn’t, but somehow she convinced them that the fictitious door-knocker was some dude that was stalking her. Apparently some dude actually was stalking her and had left her a scary voice mail the day before, but I’ve concluded that these were unrelated incidents.

A bit of news in this regard: Sharon is now dating one of the guys downstairs, and I don’t hyperbolize when I say that even she could do better. Sharon’s not really my type, but I wouldn’t say she’s ugly or anything. In contrast, this guy looks like he wakes up every morning and gets hit in the face with a 2×4. He’s also the type of guy that will walk past you in the hall and try to make small talk but it’s so dumb and incoherent that you don’t even know what he said, so you’re like “haha…yea…totally man” or some other response that seems appropriate for whatever stupid crap he may have been trying to articulate.

So the last guy you should know about lives in the room right below me and listens to Journey constantly. Lately, he’s been listening to overplayed U2 stuff and weird techno, but Journey really gets him going, usually causing him to pace loudly around his room belting out the lyrics and such.

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Anything he listens to is unnecessarily loud, absurdly bass-heavy such that my bed actually starts shaking, and played at strange times like 5:00 AM on a Wednesday. He also stands outside our front door with a suit and tie on and a six-pack of Budweiser, and he just stands there talking on the phone with some chick for hours. It almost looks like he waiting for an imaginary limo to take him to the prom or something. The other annoying thing is when I walk past him and I’m like “what’s up” he replies “Not enough, man…” After a while, I basically stopped asking him what was up, since I didn’t really care that much.

I guess I have to tell you that I stole his sunglasses the other day. I didn’t know they were his, I just saw them next to the pile of mail and took them cause I was kinda drunk. Then when Sharon’s boyfriend asked me if I had seen a pair of sunglasses cause he was missing them, I was kinda excited about it. Unfortunately, for some reason I told my dad about it and he got kinda mad and wrote me a long email about why it was an unethical thing to do. What’s worse, lately my head’s been spinning with all these moral conundrums, and now I feel like I need to improve my sinful ways or something. Anyway, after discussing with my dear friend hugsandpuppies@xanga.com I’ve concluded three things:

1) You should hold yourself to higher ethical standards than other people, like if someone’s a douchebag to other people you still have to be nice to them.

2) I had previously wondered whether people who committed unethical acts knew they were being unethical or not. In this particular case, I never even thought about it until days later. I think most instances of immorality occur when one fails to questions the ethics of their actions while committing them.

3) The next time you’re having a conversation about good deeds etc. and someone asks you, “Did you ever see the movie Pay It Forward?” I think it would be a good idea to reply, “Did you ever see the movie Silence of the Lambs?” and then eat them. I’ve never seen the former, but Ebert & Roeper gave it two thumbs down because it sucked.

That’s all for this entry, it was ok I guess. I think next time I should come up with something more zany and off-the-wall to write about. Or maybe I should stop being so frivolous and write about things of more import, who knows. Peace fuckers.

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