Nothing much happened today and following Harpy’s idea, I am posting something unpublished from a few years ago.
Riding the bus with Miss Mudpie. I was unusually charming despite the unwelcome hour of 8:20am. I would’ve preferred being alone, but hey, she is my landlord. Or Landlady. Or something resembling both. “I heard on the radio there was a 40 minute delay in getting into NYC. I’m gonna take a van” Now this would ordinarily sound fine, but Miss Mudpie has a relatively shrill voice and for a non-morning person like myself. And that was after my initial three cups of coffee, aqua rocket fuel.
Miss Mudpie and her brother Mr. Mudpack are my landlord and lady. Quite royal I think. I’ve been living above them all of my life though physically it’s been 11 years. It’s been an up and down ride with them and any problems I’ve had with them are generally because of my room mate, Martin Thall. For example, in 1991 when Charlie and Kathe Tea Cozy told me about the apt, Charlie had mentioned that his brother Martin Thall was probably going to look for an apartment since when Martin Thall got back from Mexico he wouldn’t be living with his parents in Jersey City.
I took it into consideration. So one day when I was walking down Washington St in Hoboken from Take One video to Blockbuster to pick up an errant video tape, I spied a dilapidated van with 2 even more dilapidated passengers within.
It was Martin Thall. He was with Monica. Some chick that was in love with him, enough to travel to Mexico and back with him. Of course I had the luck of bumping into him as soon as he pulled into town.
“Your brother told me you might be looking for a new place. I might be looking for a room mate. Into it?” “Yeah, sure, I guess. Where is it?” “Weehawken. You know Mudpie K from McSwells?” “Uh, I don’t know.” “Well your brother knows her. I once gave her a ride home. Nice neighborhood. Anyway if you want I can set something up for tomorrow night.” “Uh, yeah sure. I guess so.” Little did I know that his vocabulary skills wouldn’t really go farther than that. “Alright, call me at the video store and I’ll see if I can set something up.” “Uh yeah sure. I guess.”
I called Miss Mudpie and set it up. Martin Thall met me at Take One Video the next night and I was able to take some time off and see the apartment. We met Miss Mudpie and Mr. Mudpack’s parents, Adele and Mudpack Sr. A very old couple. A bit strange at first. But so was my room mate to be. I wasn’t used to being the most normal in a group but that is how it was turning out to be. We left 129 Jane Street, climbing downstairs in order to get to 127 Jane to climb upstairs. Martin Thall was able to turn on the hallway light which impressed Miss Mudpie and Mr. Mudpack. We saw the apartment which was previously occupied by an old man who really didn’t or couldn’t walk around much. Miss Mudpie and Mr. Mudpack were quite used to this fact that no one was walking around the apartment above them.
Martin Thall and I both liked the apartment and since Martin Thall painted houses and apartments, offered to paint the rooms from a purple yellow Easter combination to something more than that. We went back to Miss Mudpie and Mr. Mudpack’s parents and told then we were interested. Mudpack Sr. thought that was fine and since it was the beginning of October we would be able to move in anytime and not have to pay any rent until November 1.
It seemed like a great deal. A nice apartment, close to the city, good neighborhood, and a decent room mate. I would find out later that 3 out of 4 wasn’t bad, but wasn’t entirely good either.
I was living in Lodi with my father who I hadn’t been getting along with for about 20 years. I moved in with him despite everyone’s warnings. I had seen a side of him that I had never seen before. He was grieving. Quite sad, his wife, my mother decided to leave her mortal coil on Mother’s Day. Talk about making a statement. May 12 was a day of infamy for me and my siblings. So having seen a side of him that I had never seen before, I moved in with him into the house I grew up and threw up in. It was hell. Everyone was right. It was a mistake.
I started drinking a lot and at night when I was hiding in my brother’s room where I slept fitfully at night. One night I had to pee but I didn’t want to risk waking up the old man who slept across from the bathroom. So I did what anybody would do in a similar situation. I opened up the window and pissed down the side of the house. It seemed to be the only peaceful solution. After battles and wars, I told my father I was moving out. Martin Thall had parked his dilap-a-van outside and I warned him to stay away from the house I’ll bring my stuff outside to the van. Dad was watching me like the crotchety old hawk he was.
Annemarie, my sister was there at the time, calming me down and acting like a buffer between 2 grown men who couldn’t stand each other. Martin Thall and I got all my stuff down to Weehawken. Annemarie was sad to see the relationship die between my father and I but I was glad to see a toe tag on the body of the relationship.
It was quite pathetic when I moved. I didn’t have a bed; I had a sleeping bag lent to me by Paul the owner of the video store and a strip of foam rubber padding that I was using as a mattress of sorts. My cat Zed was able to return from exile. I brought him with me to Lodi and he basically lived in the basement until my father almost tripped on the stairs one day and swore that Zed was trying to kill him. I then brought Zed to Hoboken where he lived in the basement of the video store, which was actually the storage room rented in a basement 2 doors down. Poor Zed felt abandoned but now I was able to put a bona fide roof over his head.
Martin Thall and I seemed to get along. I didn’t know then that he told Monica his traveling companion that he was going to kick me out and the two of them would live in quasi-Aztec bliss forever and ever. Martin Thall told me after a month or two that Miss Mudpie and Mr. Mudpack were quite upset with me and wanted me out. I didn’t understand it. There were one or two incidents where a chair over laden with coats crashed one late night hang out, but it was taken care of. Sure there would be an adjustment to the fact that instead of one old man who couldn’t walk much living above them was now two men who can walk with relative ease taking his place. I asked Martin Thall and he was vague, saying he didn’t know what was going on but I had to go.
Panic stricken and faced with no options, I was leaving the apartment one night when I saw Miss Mudpie and Mr. Mudpack. I asked them I pleaded with them. “I’m so sorry. What have I done? Why do you want me to go? I have nowhere else to go. What can I do to change your mind?” They didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. All they wanted to do was to go to dinner next door at their parent’s apartment. My eyes were tearing up. It’s been said I can cry at the drop of a hat, and a major sombrero had hit the floor.
“What are you talking about?” Miss Mudpie asked. “I have nowhere else to go. I’ll do anything to stay here. I like you guys. Please reconsider.” Mr. Mudpack and Miss Mudpie looked at each other. Mr. Mudpack said, “Well we had a problem with you dropping the coats on the chair and the chair crashing and you guys thump around a lot but we didn’t ask you to leave.” Miss Mudpie chimed in, “Where did you hear that?” “Martin Thall told me that you guys wanted me out.” “Our parents rented the place to both of you and that’s it. You and Martin Thall.” Mr. Mudpack added, “If one of you goes, then the other has to go too. At least that’s what my father said.” “Yeah, you should talk to Martin Thall.” “Thanks Mudpie, I will. Have a good dinner.”
I was relieved and confused. I saw Martin Thall and asked him. He shrugged his shoulders, ran into his room and hid. Monica was still floating around the apartment. It was now about 6 months after we moved in. I ran into Miss Mudpie one day outside the building. She mentioned that her mom wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of three people living in my apartment, and then she dropped a bombshell. “Your roommate’s girlfriend has been going around the neighborhood telling all the neighbors that you’re gay.”
Wow. Monica? What did I do to deserve that? I mean I was gay, still am, but never been one to be all up in your face about it. “Everyone?” I asked Miss Mudpie. “Everyone, even the firemen.” “The firemen? Hmmm….kinky…” Miss Mudpie laughed, “Even my mother.” “Oh no, what did she say?” “She told Monica, that it was none of Monica’s business and it wasn’t her business either. She thinks you’re a good boy. She likes you.” It was good to have someone in my corner.
I found out that Martin Thall told Monica that he was going to kick me out and have her move in. And apparently Monica didn’t think Martin Thall was acting fast enough so she decided to speed things up and attempt to slander me. It didn’t work. Monica being a German tourist figured that these Americans with their meat eating ways would be so disgusted that I’d be run out to the windmill like the Frankenstein monster chased by villagers.
Martin Thall started playing both sides against the other. I was working at the video store and giving video rentals away to various friends and bartenders I knew, and also DJ-ing at McSwells. I was a DJ, ID checker, doorman, and bar back sometimes on consecutive nights. There were records usually piled up by the stereo system that Martin Thall and I shared. 2 Live Crew had a smash hit called ‘Me So Horny’. A decent song, usually guaranteed a laugh from me and my friends. The B side to ‘Me So Horny’ was an aptly named song called ‘Get the fuck out of my House Bitch’. I left it lying around so Monica would see it.
One night while I was in my room, there was a knock on the door. It was Monica. Her German accent blazing, eyes full of rage, she started screaming at me about how I was trying to seduce Martin Thall. “Leaving a record called ‘I am so horny’ around the apartment. Don’t take my man!” I laughed which enraged her even more. “John, Martin Thall said you were leaving. When will you leave?” “Leave? Monica, I ain’t going anywhere! And it’s not ‘I am so horny’ and I’m not horny for Martin Thall. He’s not my type. I like MEN. Not skinny little toothpicks that can’t stand up straight.” “Well he said…” Monica continued. “I don’t care what he said. And it’s the flip side you bitch. It’s called ‘Get the Fuck Out of my House Bitch.’ You should play it sometimes. It should have instructions on what to do.” She yelled. I yelled louder. Martin Thall hid in his room. It ended with me screaming, “Get the hell out of here you hag!”
She went back to Martin Thall’s room and probably confronted Martin Thall who shrank even further from reality. I didn’t care. Within a week she was gone, never for me to see her again. I did find out that while in her travels, she was badly bitten by a dog in Tibet. Poor dog, I hope he was alright.
That Thanksgiving, I woke up Thursday morning, to find that the phone had been turned off. It seems that Martin Thall felt that I was reckless with the phone bill and perhaps he was right then. But instead of talking about it with me, he took the advice of Susan Scratch an old drugging buddy of mine. The tiny terror they called her. Good old Susan told Martin Thall that he should, A) Shut off the phone and put it in his name only. B) Put a lock on his bedroom door since I was bound to go and use his phone C) Put a lock on his phone in his workshop in the basement because that would be on my list of places to visit and use his phone once I found out that his bedroom door was locked. Susan Susan Susan. She always said she knew me better than anyone, even better than myself.
Martin Thall still waiting for his backbone to arrive in the mail, merely left a note on the kitchen table, telling me what he had done. Of course, being Thanksgiving, my family would probably try to contact me to check and see if I was ok, and I would’ve done the same, had I had a phone. So that cold Thanksgiving morning I went out to the street armed with as much change as I could get, and set out for a pay phone. I went to the corner and it was cold in the shade of the building. I remembered a block away on Palisades Ave was a pay phone in direct sunlight and went over there. Armed with all my change, I stood in the light and deposited my coins. This came back out in the change slot, after the connection was made. A free call to California!
A free call to Garfield! A free call to Montvale! I was living large! But without my phone book couldn’t call everyone, just the one’s who’s numbers I had committed to memory. After the family, I called Julio. Julio I had known for a few years, both of us working at McSwells. Party buddies, drinking buddies. Very handsome he was, and all the gay barflies at McSwells couldn’t tell him enough. I never did. Alright I did, once, but that’s another story. He was surprised at our mutual ‘friend’ doing what he did, switching the phone off and to his name. “That’s fucked up man.” He said. I agreed. He was busy getting ready to see his family for Thanksgiving dinner. I was getting ready to do nothing.
That was fine with me. Watched a lot of TV, smoked a lot of herb. Fairly typical. Just another day. I was able to call NJ Bell and arranged for a line to be installed in my room. Another expense, but one that was needed. Julio mentioned my phone habit which I don’t think was that great, but he insisted otherwise. I called the Friday after Thanksgiving and scheduled an appointment for the next day. The phone guy showed up around 10am. I was groggy from the night before and probably smelled like the night before.
He took his ladder and made the connection outside and then came inside to finish the work. When he came into my room this guy saw my records and pegged me for a DJ. He was right, and cute, but I concentrated more on his being right. He started telling me about an old friend of his that he used to DJ with. “Goes by the name of Todd Terry. Ever hear of him?” Almost instantly I pulled out “Bango/Back to the Beat” A very hot 12” by Todd Terry. He was impressed. I was impressed. We hung out for a while, or I hung out he worked. I offered him some herb but he said no, he couldn’t. Small talk followed and when I asked him about the charge, he said there was none. “You seem like a pretty cool guy. Don’t sweat it.”
He left and I had a phone, free of charge, well, at least free installation. That was a case of being in on the Cosmic Joke. Martin Thall still scampered about like the rodent he would eventually show himself to be. Susan Scratch later wound up doing a similar thing to Julio vis-à-vis his roommate.