The smell is free

During my search for a place to live, I saw some truly horrifying apartments. I saw holes in the ceiling. Rat traps left out in the middle of the floor, spackled with guts. Places without a single window, and an illegal hotplate instead of a stove.

“That’s how it goes,” Rolfe said, “Things you’d expect from an apartment — four walls and a ceiling, say, or no rodents — are actually bonuses in New York.”

It’s pretty much impossible to find an apartment in Manhattan that doesn’t require major compromise. My compromise is that my cute little overpriced apartment also comes with its own stench, courtesy of the absolutely filthy muthafucka who lived there before.

My father, upon hearing this, offered to come down and help clean it up. I told him that I appreciated it, but that I really wanted to have a crack at it before he and Mom saw it for the first time. Honestly, I was afraid that if he saw it in its current state, he might stuff me in a sack and drag me back to Boston.

He just laughed. “Your mother and I have moved into apartments where the first thing we did, after signing the lease and getting the keys, was stand in the doorway, look at our new home and cry.” I tried to think of a time I’d actually seen him cry. The closest he’d ever come to it, that I could remember, was when I drank too much in high school and wound up in the emergency room. Even then, it was more like a manful glisten in the eyes and a short, “Thought we were going to lose you.” Hug. Thump on the back. “BE CAREFUL, OK?”

As further proof that he could take any grungy apartment, he went on to tell me that he once, as a part-time job, painted a restaurant that hadn’t been cleaned in 20 years, and also reminded me of his college gig scraping up roadkill for the Department of Public Works.

I’m still not letting him into my apartment until I’ve had a chance to clean the bathroom.

Published by Jen Hubley Luckwaldt

I'm a freelance writer and editor.

2 thoughts on “The smell is free

  1. ms smash, maybe you could come up with a new street vendor snack, like “rat on a stick”, and you could start a new trend. it could be your foray into the entrepeneurial world.

  2. ahhh smells, what would appartments be without them? If your place has a strong enough smell then it will rub off on your personal effects, so if you’re ever homesick you can smell your purse or your jacket and know that everything will be allright. For me it’s a lovely stale smoke smell, and I’ve been house sitting for my mother-in-law for a few days. Today I was feeling a little blue being in a huge house all by myself, so when I went to do my pilates routine and I bent over to stretch I smelled my yoga mat and felt right at home.

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