That night Randi took the Q train to Ditmas Park to see the apartment. She had the same experience. She liked, liked, liked the apartment and then when she saw the second bedroom loved, loved, loved it. We both were a little disappointed that there was no laundry in the building -- this was the only letdown -- but there was a massive laundromat just around the corner, which would give Randi a chance to take a stroll at least a few times a week... or more, since newborns poop about 24 hours a day for at least their first month.
The next morning I faxed our credit report to the rental agency, nervous about beating out the other couple rushing to live in our place. But I was ready: I not only had the credit report, but also pay stubs for us both, and a short cover letter.
I still hadn't heard from either Carol or the rental agency by the next day so I called in, and got Dolly on the phone.
"Hi, this is David Serchuk, and we were looking at the Ditmas Park apartment? The one for $1350 a month?"
It took Dolly a moment to put it together. I could tell over the phone that she was a little older. As if her name being "Dolly" wasn't enough of a tip-off.
"Oh, yes! The editor and the school teacher!"
Now that's more like it!
"So, yeah, just calling to see if the credit report checked out, and everything, and how it looks."
She took a slight pause.
"Well, I am sorry to have to say this, but it's rented. But we loved you! You two looked like the perfect people to have live in one of our buildings. You looked great!"
"Well, there was another couple that had already put their money down for a deposit, so we had to check them out, and we showed the place to you while it cleared with them, in case it didn't work out with them. But if you're still interested we have another place on Ocean Parkway," she said.
"Did Carol know this?"
I hung up, feeling used by this old woman. If another couple had already put down their money wouldn't it be right to take your apartment off the market? I felt that despite her praise for us we had just gotten played. Also that meant the other couple Carol had told us about weren't racing with us to get the apartment. They had completed the race, were standing on the podium with wreaths on their brows, and now were simply awaiting the results of their piss tests.
I told Randi soon after getting off the phone with Dolly. She was angry, and it definitely fed her frustrations with the whole process. I put on the smiley face as best as I could, but it was hard to not feel frustrated as well. Not only did you have to move fast in New York to find a sweet apartment, apparently you needed the ability to somehow travel backwards through time as well.
I found the next broker. Her name was Karen and, typical of her trade, she was effusive and chatty over the phone.
After I gave her our thumbnail biographies and laid out our rules, she seemed excited to meet up with us. I stressed that we couldn't, COULD NOT, in no way could we, see a place that cost more than $1400 a month. Because, as mentioned, that was the absolute breaking point for what we could afford to pay on one salary, and have the move still make any sort of fiscal sense, once fees and moving charges were factored in.
"Oh, got it, I have some places, nice doorman buildings in fact that sound absolutely perfect for you," she gushed. Yeah, I would say gushed is a fair word here. "With laundry and everything! Trust me, these are exactly what you're looking for. I know."
Sounded good to me. So with the memory of Ditmas Park receding as fast as we could make it we got back in the car and drove the 25 minutes to Bay Ridge. We met Karen near 100th Street. She would've almost been in the shadow of the Verrazano Bridge, except it was night. In other words we were way, way south of, and away from, everything, but if the nice apartments were down here it would be worth it.
We met Karen in front of the first building we were to see. She had a thick native-New Yawker accent, and seemed very friendly and excited to show us some apartments. She was probably in her mid-to-late 30s, and unlike Lauren, she wasn't late, and unlike Chris, she didn't seem like she'd just stepped out of a keg party. In other words she seemed professional.
The building itself was a sleek, well-maintained affair; nothing out of place, everything clean and, if not new, at least in excellent working order. At the entryway Karen waved to the doorman, whom she seemed to know. He was an older, white-haired guy, from some sort of old country, but I couldn't tell which one. Then we were met by the people who owned the building, a father and son team. They were both Asian and extremely excited to meet up with us. The father was named Richard, although he was obviously a first-generation immigrant, and the son was named David, an easy name for me to remember. The father looked to be in his mid to late 50s, and the son was in his early to mid 20s. David had obviously been born in the U.S., and did most, but not all, of the talking.
They lead us into an elevator, and the first sign that this wasn't going to be yet another typical apartment hunt was that the elevator closed behind us and spoke. "Going up!" a femme-botty voice chirped cheerfully. It was loud, and sounded like the future as imagined 20 years ago. "Fourth floor!" it/she said, prompting us to emerge.
With a touching amount of excitement and pride Richard opened the door to the apartment and we walked in. Wow.
The first thing I noticed was the rich, dark brown wood that covered a far wall. Second, I noticed the flagstones on the floor, slate of some kind, a dark, lustrous gray. Another far wall was mostly covered in glass with a wide-angle view of the bridge. Now it was my turn to have my eyes to widen a little. This was a seriously nice apartment.
"See, lots of closet space." Richard volunteered, gliding a pair of doors open to reveal, indeed not only closets, but closets with little mini-shelves built into them. He beamed at us.
"And over here," he continued, leading us into the living room, "is space for where a lot of young couples make room for the baby." The flooring itself was also a deep, reddish wood. After seeing so many cheapie parquet or linoleum floors this was akin to a revelation.
There was also a little kitchen nook with brand new everything, including a brand new, yes, dishwasher.
David then led us into the bedroom, which was smallish, but had a TV stand, and another nice-sized closet. Everything in the apartment was tidy, and immaculately kept, even if the actual living space was, it's true, kind of on the small size. On the upside all this dark polished wood, and stone definitely brought to mind Greg Brady's dream bachelor pad.
And it only got better from there.
After getting several eyefuls of the apartment Richard and David led us outside to the building's deck, which was about the size of a football field, and included multiple areas on which to grill, or just rest with a chair. Again, their pride in their building was just so apparent, it was touching.
But, still, there was more.
Loading back into the femme-evator we went into the basement where there were about 10 nearly immaculate, new laundry machines, storage for extra goods, a gym, and, wait for it, a sauna.
They wanted us, the father and son, they did. We were a couple, with a baby coming. We weren't going to leave them hanging. I worked at a place that was quite literally synonymous with money, even if I made about as much as a decent pastry chef.
Once out the door we immediately turned to Karen. Yeah, this place looked nice.
"Okay," she said. "They want $1500, but they might be willing to work with it. I'll ask." She'll ask is right. Because even if it seems hard to fathom, $1400 we could just, just, just afford, stretching our budget dollars like spandex at a Weight Watcher's convention. But $1500 was just one, or maybe even two, tokes over the line.
This night was already promising, and there were still two more places for us to see. I was finally getting excited about finding a new apartment, again.
(More to Come ...)