Monday, January 21, 2008

Uncharted Wrecks of Wonder


I was thinking about clothes last week, because of my last post, mainly thinking about how much money I spend on them, way too much money, when I remembered I decided to become 'classy' sometime during 1987, not '88.
Jody bought me a beautiful shirt, in tune with my new aesthetic, from Cignal in the Century Mall, in '87, for my 21st birthday. A Le Garage shirt, I believe, and while watching TV yesterday, (PBS, the Jane Austin marathon) I was reminded of the stunning silver silk brocade vest Terry, a roommate from 1985, gave me for Christmas that year. I hadn't thought of that vest in years. I was shocked he gave me a present so lovely and thoughtful, for I had assumed he didn't like me very much. Maybe he was trying to make up for keeping dozens of his unpacked moving boxes in our hallway...

I found my new apartment with the help of an apartment finder, because I had good luck with one a few years ago. I played the part of a young man with his shit together fairly well, but I don't think the 'finder' really gave a crap. As long as I passed the credit check, I was the apartment owner's problem (or blessing) from then on.
It was pleasant and sunny the day I walked into the condo building on the corner of Pinegrove and Patterson, in May of 1988. From the outside, the building looked scaled down and smallish, but inside, the studio had tall ceilings, and large rooms; even a walk-in closet. It was wonderfully vintage, with great art-deco lines, and had a working fireplace. It also had an air of gloom and moodiness, despite it's crisp lines, so I thought it was perfect:
Wandering around the rooms I was soon to be occupying, I could feel the distance presence of dignified desperation during the depression, a mourning WW II secret lover, the tense dinners and sleepless nights of a failing marriage of the 1950's, an octogenarian shut-in longing for the 1920's while bearing witness to the free love of the '60's, and the beer can littered, protest poster walled life of a matriculating interracial couple; and all of it being swept away to set the stage for me to find my life of self invention and success and fame and fortune in the 1980's.
That was the plan, anyway...

I remember we also looked at an apartment in the building my friend Patrick used to live in, and a few others, but the the price wasn't right, and the current renters of all the other places were very dirty and sloppy, which destroyed any enthusiasm one may have possessed prior to the key turning in the lock.
I moved in with the feeling that this was going to be a great place to live, and I could get my life on track and find some happiness. My scary New Year's Eve experience earlier that year 'shook me awake', and sent me on a path of change. I partied a little less, and consumed less intoxicants, and even though I had been in this same place a few times before, meaning a glaring awareness of my destructive habits, and the short lived, monk-like life I would lead as a result, I was determined to change and stay changed.
I bought an exercise bicycle one hung over morning with my roommate Stephanie, prior to moving out, and used it every other day. Stephanie yelled at me while putting the bike in her car, because I was mean to the salesman at the store.
"Steph, I'm tired and hung over. I just wanted to get out of there as fast as I could." I said.
"Well, you could've been more polite. You didn't have to say 'Shut up and get me the damn bike' mid sales pitch." She answered back.
"Yea, well... "
I was making better money at my new salon, with my old boss, who helped me move with her little Mustang. I didn't have much to move, and looked forward to buying things for the new place. Looking back, I don't remember buying much. The large kitchen was empty, I kept my little black and white TV on my record player, which sat on the floor, and I had a futon couch and a butterfly chair in the main room. No coffee table, but there was a torchiere Consita had given me. I put some money down to buy a large colorful framed poster to put over the fireplace, but never finished paying for it.
Maybe because this was my first apartment on my own, I remember so many details:
Terracotta tiles in the kitchen, a built in dry bar in the main room, and the haunting glow cast into it's mirror from the recessed lighting, the minuscule, useless balcony, and the middle aged neighbor who sunned herself on it on sunny weekends, the way the apartment smelled when it rained, and the way my closet smelled of Obsession, and my medicine cabinet, crammed with hundreds of beauty products.
That summer, I spent every Saturday night watching Saturday Night Live, and Showtime at the Appollo, while waiting for Erin to pick me up so we could go to Limelight and Berlin, and our new favorite, Bistro Too.
Bistro Too was a trashy, drinks-crazy disco in the then somewhat rough area known as Andersonville, which we ran to from our parking spot by the hospital. (If we got beat up, we thought, it would be a short crawl to the ER.)
I hated the music at Bistro, and I always felt like a high school senior crashing a junior high prom, but the long islands were big, and the frenzy at the bar was very entertaining. There was a large evil blond bartender at the main bar who liked to have annoying patrons thrown out for the tiniest of infractions, and watching that was worth the price of admission.
The DJ could usually be bribed to play Buffalo Stance, my new anthem, a couple times a night, and that was all I would dance to there. OK, that and I Gotta CD by Disco 2000. (A song that is still great and really hard to find. If you have it, please send it to me! It went: I gotta Ceee-Deee! I gotta M-T-P! , or something like that. Another brill song/video from Neneh, from a few years later. I was to try and turn myself into one of the boys in white.)
Try as I might, I could never get the gas man to turn on my stove. I gave up after three attempts, and ate sandwiches, ordered pizza, and warmed soup on my Mr. Coffee for the year I lived there.
As summer turned to fall, the nights I wasn't out with Erin and her gang, I was out with Dehli, my friend from Wisconsin, who got tired of flying down every weekend, and moved into an apartment down the street from me. I can still see her brown, dilapidated, 1970's Mercedes sedan tooling down Pinegrove to pick me up for our nightly visit to Limelight, so she could fawn over, and occasionally bribe, her bartender crush, Jimmy.
My self discipline and abstinence were starting to slip away, and with Brad's recent request for a place to live, I knew it wouldn't be long before I threw it all out the window...

Links: Adverts, Neneh Cherry


Anonymous said...

Buffalo Stance is my guiltiest pleasure on my Ipod. Or maybe it's Fox On The Run.


madge said...

I have answered your advice question about the PRE-CUM here:

A Woman of LUna

Aaron said...

I love "Fox on The Run" and "Love Is Like Oxygen."

I still like old buildings better than new ones. There was something about them that reminded me of our old house growing up. Like you, I always imagined the histories of the folks who lived there before me (except for the very first one I lived in during college, where I heard all about the tenant before me from a neighbor--I could have run around naked playing a bassoon and still made a better impression, by the sounds of it).