This Real, Real Thing
We’re Americans, so even when we become worried about the cost of living, we feel comfortable talking about it at parties. And so it was that I entered my 30s, an age at which lots of other people are becoming a little bit hairy about their apartment expenses. I could no longer afford the $2,000-a-month rent on my first apartment. But when I saw that there was a place that cost $750 a month, I couldn’t resist.
The hallways were stormy. The air conditioner was never on. I didn’t have to flush the toilet. The neighbors got together at the kitchen table every night to have hot chocolate and sit with a National Geographic magazine, and my grandparents enjoyed their hour or so of porch time on the summer evenings.
Eventually, I lived with a friend. And as we sat in his old Aeron chair one day to watch the latest episode of American Masters, he began griping that the apartment needed a new sink and, worse, a new toilet. His argument was that I should sell the old-ass thing and go to “the Dump.”
I believed him. When he seemed to think things up out of thin air, I began thinking them up for him. “The toilet that I love so much?” I thought up the composting toilet. “I’m gonna have to tell him it takes hours to clean.” I started considering it as a future family home: Why not shoot a few nudes on the dressing table before we move out?
It was ultimately my dog’s opinion that convinced me it wasn’t such a smart move. And once I sold the toilet and got a new one, I realized that I should be feeling really bad about not getting the deal I wanted. Maybe my landlord could have at least offered me a discount. And maybe I’d have been better off keeping my old apartment.