It’s January, which means I’m another year older. If you’re keeping score, I’m 34. That’s nine years older than anyone in Hollywood, but still five months younger than my sister’s cat who I believe is part sea turtle. I’m feeling good.

I can already tell it’s going to be an exciting year of change. Three days ago, my new roommate Andy and I signed a lease on an apartment in Astoria/Queens. I’m going to miss living in Manhattan, but not necessarily my current apartment, primarily because it’s on the corner of the Midtown Tunnel and Puerto Rican Pride parade route #9.

images/DSCF1774.jpg” width=”200″ height=”150″ align=”left” hspace=”5″ vspace=”5″ border=”0″>This place does have its character, however. For example, most apartments have two knobs in the shower, one for cold water and one for hot. Our place has two thin pipes jutting from below the shower head. One for cold water and one for nut-shriveling-cold water. Furthermore…since the knobs fell off, leaving us with just the pipes, we must activate the water by using a pair of pliers (pic #2). Not exactly a bathroom of luxury. Come to think of it, considering that we have a good-sized family of fungi growing on the shower walls, this could be quite a challenging project for both the Home and the Garden departments of HGTV. Yes, nasty…but good TV.

Believe it or not, I actually didn’t want to find another place to live simply because moving is a big pain in the ass. Besides, this is New York City…I can’t find anyone here who has a pick-up truck I can borrow. But alas, it had to be. Our landlord is not renewing our lease, most likely because of my attempts to organize a complex communication network with other tenants involving the water pipes, monkey wrenches, and standard Morse code.

So the hunt was on for a new place. After searching the Net for a couple of 2-bedroom set-ups that looked good, Andy and I set out to view them with real estate agents. Here in New York, you usually need an agent involved when renting anything, so they come along for the tour. I learned quite a bit during this process, like when to shut up. Here’s part of the conversation we had with Agent #1 about five minutes after she told us about the many people with bad credit who want to rent nowadays:

Agent: “Are you going to register all your information so that you’re officially a New York resident?”
Me: “I’d love to so I can vote, but I’ll just keep everything set up in Tennessee.”
Agent: “Oh, okay. For cheaper insurance?”
Me: “No. So the re-po man can’t find me.”
Agent: “Uh…what did you say?”
Me: “Hey! This place has shower knobs? Suh-weeeet!”

After testing the water supply without the use of hand tools, I was good as sold on the new apartment. But there was a burning question that needed an answer. So I let it fly.

“Is this place haunted?”

The agent looked like I asked her where I could set up my cock-fighting pit. She went on to say that she didn’t think it was haunted. But just to be sure, I asked if I could come back at night with my British friend Claudia. We could tour the place and spend the night, like those people on Ghost Hunters. Because if trapped spirits flock towards anything, it’s night-vision cameras and Cogney accents. That may be why the Ghost Hunters get attacked by the unseen hands of specters so much…nobody likes being taunted by people who sound like Harry Potter. Imagine someone calling your name over and over again with that voice. Wouldn’t you want to smack them between their glowing yellow eyes?

I was not allowed to spend the night, however. So we were forced to make a decision without knowledge that any pipe clanking could be more than just settling water. After deliberating for a New York minute, Andy and I agreed to take it and signed the lease. I’m looking forward to this being be a great year.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to flag down somebody with a pick-up truck.

Categories: Columns