The Senator Gets None

The Street Hustle

The one constant through the universe is the New York City housing crunch.  It is hard for the average American in say Omaha or Santa Barbara to fathom what their fellow citizens in Gotham will do for affordable housing.  Grown adults living in glorified closets, paying $2,000 a month just for the privilege of living in the world’s current capitol city.  The real question is why do we do it?  Are we a city full on adrenaline junkies, getting the fix we so desperately need when we open the door?  No, the real reason the residents of the Big Apple live in the aforementioned pseudo squalor is to bitch.

I agree with Don Delillo.  In his great 1985 book White Noise, Delillo put forth the claim that the art of getting ahead in New York is by stating ones complaints in an interesting way.  It’s a sort of urban defense against the boorish and boring, if you can’t hold an audience, maybe it’s time to move to that foreign country known as New Jersey.  Generally, you take the good stories of housing issues and problems involved thereof, nod and file them away in the guess what I just heard segment of the temporal lobes.  However, every now and then, you hear one of those apartment tales and even the most jaded New Yorker must admit that, yes, this poor bastard needs some sympathy.

Enter Jay ‘The Senator’ Friedman, Boston born 41 year-old Williamsburg resident, waiter and aspiring Prog rock musician.   We first met four years back at an after gig party for a mutual friends’ band in an East Village haunt for the tragically hip.  A tall rangy guy with a shaved head, I was taken by his nickname – the Senator.  His demeanor was anything but diplomatic, even on our first meeting I noticed his predilection towards drinking way too much Scotch, hitting on multiple women in various vulgar ways and falling down.  Thus making sure he hadn’t any sexual contact in years.   

As it turns out, his childhood friends in Boston gave him the moniker when he was 22.  After a night on the town, Friedman was driving his girlfriend home and ran his car off a bridge.  Although they both walked away with minor injuries, his continuing adventures in DUI land are a source of great amusement and concern to both his friends and various members of the local police department.

Since his arrival in New York fourteen years earlier, the Senator had been renting a room in a loft with his band mates.  All was well until his band broke up in the spring.  Facing a hostile living situation, the former lead singer’s family owned the loft; Friedman was forced to find any sort of roommate situation as soon as he could.  On the surface, all seemed well: the new living situation was only four blocks from his house and although the room was somewhat smaller, it was also $150 a month cheaper.  However, his new roommate was a 72 Jewish guy who was consistently attempting to Yenta him into marriage or at the very least taking some sort of responsibility other than buying new guitar strings.

The effect of all this new attention was to send Jay into a bender of near epic proportions.  When I finally caught up with him, four days back and six weeks in, I thought maybe I should have a chat with him about his drinking but the Senator looked so thoroughly awful, I did the utterly wrong thing and bought him a drink.

“You should hear him,” he slurred.”  “He’s so loud, I can’t sleep.”  I managed to get out a “huh” before he started in again.  “The noise, I can’t take the noise,” he slurred. 

The Senator’s 72 year-old roommate turned out to be quite the Lady’s Man.  Apparently, he has several lady friends he is sleeping with, all of them between the ages of 45-50.  “Dude, they’re hot too.”  He managed to get out slightly coherently, that and the fact he hasn’t gotten laid in five years. 

Poor bastard.  We New Yorkers may live in hermetically sealed overpriced cubicles but at least we attempt to make them livable.  The Senator, with no girlfriend, no charm now has a roommate that has what he desperately wants: a sex life.

Once again, I erred as a friend.  I took Jay’s beer and replaced it with some bourbon: the drink for the man that needs to forget.  


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