Off-campus housing in college is always a challenge. For some reason, I always seemed to wait until the last-minute to finalize and during my second senior year, I mistakenly let my friend Weezie handle everything. I should have known something was up when we got a prime spot on Clayton Street across from the bars, but who thinks like that?
School was starting in two days and Weezie called to tell me that we had somehow “lost” our apartment because other tenants were showing up and moving in and we now had nowhere to live for the school year. Apparently, the two landlords that owned the building had a parting of the ways and both of them had rented our apartment out to separate tenants. They both took the money and ran, so they were suing each other – which forced the court to appoint a Trustee to handle everything relating to their properties. Here it is two days before school starts and it was like musical chairs – the music stopped and there were not enough rooms for every one of us that was still dancing.
It is probably my fault for planning on living with a lunatic, but Weezie was a close friend and we were together almost daily – so who better to live with? She called and explained to me how people kept showing up and claiming rooms, but no one could find either one of the landlords. The Trustee finally showed up to help settle the situation, wanting to keep the peace and he offered to find us other housing since the other roommates had already shown up and were getting settled. Not gonna work buddy – we had to live there.
That apartment was a wreck; It had only one heating vent in the living room for the whole apartment, so no other room had any sort of heat and the winters in upstate NY are brutal. There were four bedrooms and my tiny little bedroom had a door leading out to a metal fire escape that wasn’t fully attached to the building – it actually used to bang against the building during storms. That wouldn’t have been so bad if there also wasn’t a ten-inch gap between the bottom of the fire escape door and the door frame which allowed the wind, rain, and snow to come in if there weren’t towels and blankets jammed in there. The furniture was old, mismatched, wobbly, and disgusting (even before my roommate that we liked to affectionately call “Unibrow” (for obvious reasons) pissed all over the couch like a stray cat one night when he was drunk), the windows were broken or wouldn’t stay open unless propped up with books, and the stove didn’t always work.
The apartment was on the second floor in a condemned building that was scheduled to be torn down after the semester to make a parking lot for the YWCA next door, but it was on the bottom of Clayton Street steps from the bars and my friends were living in the houses next door, so I never gave it a second thought. Clayton Street is a long steep hill with the college campus at the top of the hill and the bars at the bottom of the hill and the apartment was in the last house at the bottom of the street across from the bars which more than made up for not having heat, working appliances, or a sanitary environment. You know what they say – location, location, location (so you can understand the importance of us not losing that apartment).
So the Trustee “worked everything out” with Weezie as the two of them had now become friends. She was to live out in the back building, which was literally an old garage that was crudely converted into separate upstairs and downstairs apartments. Another feature of the apartment was that it was actually on an incline; if you put a basketball on the floor and let it go, it would roll towards the corner. It was so dingy in there that the Trustee gave us a case of beer if Weezie and I agreed to paint the inside of the garage (I mean apartment) so you can just imagine what it looked like. A case of beer is hard to pass up and I wasn’t that invested since I didn’t have to sleep out there, so we painted it. Also, keep in mind that she was living with two strangers in there and didn’t have a door on her room. These apartments were also illegal so Weezie couldn’t get a phone out there, couldn’t get cable, and couldn’t even get mail delivered back there; but as I said the location more than made up for any negatives the place might have had.
The window to her “living room” was about twenty-five feet from my bedroom fire escape door, so she would throw things at my door or scream HOOKA!!! out her window to get my attention and see if I wanted to go get lunch at the Grill Room or watch a movie. Since she didn’t have cable, she’d have to come over to watch anything or borrow a movie. One day I came home to find Smokey missing and a screwdriver rammed into my front door with a note saying “Walter, I have your dog!” which is a quote from The Burbs.
I thought she was crazy to live out there, but I didn’t really argue with her because I still got to live in the apartment that we were originally supposed to, although with two strangers. It was awkward – they didn’t like that I had a dog that kept shitting in Unibrow’s bedroom and used to chew his books and piss on his bed, but like I said – location made up for a lot. I also didn’t like that Evan would order food and then go have sex with his girlfriend and of course when the food was delivered – they were still going at it. It actually isn’t as awkward as you might think to answer the door to a pizza delivery guy to the sounds of Evan’s bed banging against the wall, him moaning and his girlfriend screaming as you might think. You might imagine that Evan’s girlfriend would be embarrassed when she dismounted and came out scrounging for food when they were done, but you would be mistaken for thinking that. She’d come strolling out of his room with him following shortly after like they just got back from running an errand, making small talk as if he hadn’t just pounded the shit out of her and everyone in the building had heard it.
Here I was thinking I made out better than Weezie and then she started getting hand-written notes from the Trustee with cute stickers on the envelope. Now, ponder that for a second because what man in his mid fifties sends hand-written notes with stickers on the envelopes to a random girl he just met? My thoughts exactly. I only knew she was getting hand-written notes because she had to use my address as she couldn’t get mail out back. I also came to find out that Weezie was paying hundreds of dollars less than me for the rent. When I questioned the Trustee, he told me that Weezie had been through a lot. As if I hadn’t? Unless by being through a lot, he meant him hitting that…To this day, Weezie denies that there was anything between her and the Trustee besides friendship, but I am still not convinced. It could have all been innocent, but all those visits from him and the stickers and notes were pretty odd if you ask me…Also, this is the same girl who still denies that there was almost a fist fight in her sorority house because someone ate one of her frozen eggos, but I digress…In her defense, I must say that Weezie will admit to coming home to her sorority house one night and finding a bowl that she had made in Ceramics class that had been used as an ashtray and went to Sara‘s room pounding on the door (Sara was being pounded by her boyfriend at the time, but it didn’t stop Weezie’s pounding at the door) and when Sara answered the door in just a towel, Weezie attacked her and almost beat the shit out of her too…
So over winter break, the pipes out in Weezie’s apartment/garage burst and she couldn’t live there anymore. A studio apartment opened up in the main house on the second floor, so the Trustee brought Weezie over to see it. She took one look at the rickety loft bed with desk under it and told the Trustee “I can’t have sex on that thing – it’ll fall apart and will never hold me.” Who says that? She still denies that she said that, but like I said these stories are all made up…She ended up moving into the studio and the chaos just kept on going…
More on that apartment and that glorious street later…