one full year in brooklyn
May 1st marked my one-year anniversary of living in Brooklyn. Martha is my 80-ish-year-old landlady that lives alone, above and diagonal to my apartment. She has been the recurring Seinfeld character in my life for the past year. And I’ve gotten to know her, and her habits, quite well whether I wanted to or not. Let me preface by saying that I understand she’s lonely and means well. And though I don’t love her like I would a grandparent, I respect her for being somebody else’s.
This morning, I woke up to Martha screaming “GEEEETTTT OOOUUUUUTTT!” in the hallway, with the alarm and fury akin to extrapolating a poltergeist from an Indian burial ground. I run out to find that there is an old drunk Polish bum in our hallway, stunned, pants half down. Martha, the 100-pound woman that she is, grabs the bum and shoves him out the door. Martha: 1. Bums: 0.
A year ago, when I first moved into my apartment in Greenpoint, and before I had cable TV and internet hooked up, Martha was the first to tell me Osama Bin Laden was killed. It was my first day of waking up, living solo. As I locked up my new hidey-hole, Martha came squawking down the stairs, “They got him. Did you see?” Me: “What? Who?” Martha: “Osama. He’s dead. You didn’t see?” Me: “No, whoa.” Martha: “Well, they got him.” I remember thinking, “Wow, what a considerate landlady.” Just the tip of an iceberg with a slippery slope.
Here are some other Martha habits…
Martha will ask me if my hair is curly on a monthly basis. I take it she’s flirting, because clearly, it’s curly.
Martha thinks that it’s ok to leave her candle lit when she leaves the house because she does it “all the time”. I let her know that there are flaws in that argument.
The apartment building smelled like burning plastic last week. I blame Martha.
2 nights ago Martha had a glass of red wine and a complimentary shot of Grand Marnier at her favorite restaurant, Bamonte’s. I know this because she told me 5 times.
Martha says “Ok, I’ll leave ya.” 8 times before she actually leaves my apartment.
Martha will ring my doorbell 8 times in a row whenever I get mail.
Martha will knock on my door if my window shades are uneven.
Martha will knock if I accidentally leave the hall light on.
Martha will jiggle my doorknob each time she knocks.
Martha has a mild heart attack every time I take my bike in and out of the apartment.
Martha will rustle through the hallway recycling, every single morning, around 8AM.
Martha gives me coupons and menus from every restaurant she passes. She’ll give me 2 menus from the same place at once, and say, “I don’t know, ya know?” No, I don’t know.
Martha sees Sean’s art and says to Sean, “Who do you think you are? Renoir? Rembrandt?” Sean: “No.” I think she’s flirting.
Here’s a short play:
Martha sees a painting of a girl with long blonde hair in my apartment.
MARTHA: Who did this?
MARTHA: That looks like that famous singer.
SEAN: Which one?
MARTHA: That’s the famous singer, um, uh.. you know her.
SEAN: It’s not a famous singer. It’s not anyone really.
MARTHA: It’s Lady Gaga.
SEAN: Haha, no, it’s not Lady Gaga.
MARTHA: No, it’s the other one. Yes, you know her. With the long hair. Ok, I’ll leave ya.
There’s a knock. It’s Martha.
MARTHA: Shakira! It’s Shakira.
SEAN: No, it’s not.
Martha rambles about many things: the 80s AIDS epidemic, the Public Access channel, her favorite restaurant Bamontes, turning the lights off.
Leaky pipes happen when you’re in a different state for work, and then you have a hole in your ceiling like this, for months:
And then you get to listen to all the conversations happening in your building. And this is when I learned that every morning, Martha listens to opera.