This wasn’t exactly my finest hour. I was calloused and self-absorbed. I don’t blame my Ohio upbringing. New York City did it to me.
July 29, 1995
We’re in the midst of a horrific heatwave. Baby, there’s no heat like New York City heat. The subways heat the sidewalks and the glass buildings reflect sunlight onto the streets. The air is a thick, dead, goop. It’s not good for my hair and my underwear sticks to my ass. The worst part is all these fucking cockroaches. I keep a clean apartment but they’re everywhere. In the cat food, crawling on the bathroom towels, in my shoes, laying eggs in the cutlery drawer. The exterminator has been here TWICE but those guys are useless. There’s too many of them. This morning, I opened a box of Q-Tips and two crawled out. I was half-asleep and they scared the shit out of me. It was a new box, too. This is the worst part about living in an apartment. All you need is one dirty pig in the building and everyone suffers.
Colleen and I were supposed to take the train to Philadelphia today. Neither one of us has air conditioning so we had this great idea to sit in the Philadelphia Museum of Art all day and night. You should always take a bona fide artist with you when you go to a museum. They teach you stuff. Anyway, she called this morning and said she’s not going because she can’t be just friends with me. Her voice was quivering. I think she’d been crying. Jesus Christ. Really? I have LOST COUNT of how many women have told me not to expect anything other than a friendship. You rise above your stupid hurt feelings and move on. Now I have to sit in this goddamn hot apartment all day. It’s like being inside a pizza oven. I should’ve gone out with Eve. What an idiot. [Note: I met Eve at a party Colleen took me to.]
Kris glided past me up Avenue A on her rollerblades. She didn’t see me but she wouldn’t have stopped even if she had. She hates me. Early on, I think she wanted me in the biblical way. But that all changed when I told her I’d never rent my apartment to a girl because I thought the neighborhood was too dangerous. She said that was sexist and I wasn’t be fair to women. The moment the words left my mouth all the air was sucked out of the room. She changed how she felt about me in a New York second. You could feel it.
She was with another girl who I didn’t recognize. She wasn’t wearing any protective head gear. Just a black baseball cap on backwards. Her hair flowed behind her. It was like watching a slow motion Gen-X Lower East Side angel. That’s what she is.
After that, I was waiting in line at the ATM and Austin bumped into me. He called me Mike. That’s pretty much the impression I leave with everyone. They can’t even get my name right. I’m like a wisp of vapor. People sense my presence but I’m easy to look through and I leave no impression. His teeth were kind of yellow and his clothes were a mess but it was nice chatting with him. He said the band might go to Japan in September. I’ll believe it when I see it. He asked what I’ve been up to and I told him I just got out of jail for assaulting my landlord. He got the joke but everyone in line was eavesdropping and you could tell they took me seriously. I think God put other people on the planet for my own personal amusement.
I just saw Sedaris on a cable access show. They were talking about ‘One Woman Shoe,’ the play he did with his sister at La MaMa a few months ago. Holy shit, it was funny. His sister acted in it but he didn’t. I wonder why? The New York Times reviewed it. I think that guy might actually make it. [Note: I’ll say, he did.] This is the second show they did at La MaMa and I’ll bet it’s the last one they do there. [Note: It was. The next one was at Lincoln Center.] I left him a note at the box office to say hello and tell him how much I enjoyed the show and he wrote a gracious thank-you letter back, which I thought was classy. [Note: No texts or emails. An exchange of actual hand-written letters. A lost pleasure.]
Whenever I hear someone in the hallway, I run to the peephole to see if it’s anyone fun. It’s usually for that asshole across the hall. Cindy and I hate him. We always stomp on roaches in the hallway and then wipe our shoes on his welcome mat. There are some good bands playing at Fez tonight but I don’t have anyone to go with.
* * *
This is the last Picasso sculpture. I promise. This is his young daughter, Paloma, jumping rope. He made it with found objects.
Another sensational New Jersey parking job. How do you live so deeply inside your own head that you’re oblivious to the world? In a way, it’s enviable.