Friday, October 17, 2008

A Uniquely Manhattan Situation

I rode up Broadway on the M7 with N. from work, who'd enlisted me to help carry his washer and dryer from the master bedroom to the laundry nook of his new apartment, currently under renovation in a luxurious, Art Deco building on 72nd Street, a housing situation so fraught with legal acrimony, expense and painful, thankless labor that he confessed to me he might just give the whole thing up.

"That's a uniquely Manhattan situation right there," I noted, and he nodded vigorously.

Upstairs, his place - a beautiful, spacious two-bedroom with closets everywhere and a terrace out back facing the rear of some venerable old hotel - was dark and litter-strewn, silty with Sheetrock dust, a phenomenal shambles. A folding chair before a folding table bearing a solitary screwdriver. Buckets and piles of vague supplies. A printer, a TV, some other objects of normal living forming a poignant totem pole in the bathtub. A big roll of masking paper wound into a scroll, like a blank Torah on the floor. Holes in the wall awaiting switches and outlets, with multicolored wire-nutted wires erupting from the mysterious realms within their depths. N., conveying pride and queasy disgust in equal measures, tore some paper off the window so I could see the view.

We finagled the washer, then the dryer, into place. He thanked me, shook my hand. I said it's OK. He thanked me again. No problem, I'll see you tomorrow. He thanked me again and helped me with the door. Did I need help finding my way out? No. He thanked me, then thanked me again when I was halfway down the hall.