In December of 2010, The Wife and I met up in New York City for a 10-day liaison; she flew in from Frankfurt, Germany, and I came from Portland, Oregon. By some miracle, both our flights and our luggage arrived on time, thus launching an epic saga of romance and sickness so powerful neither of us will ever forget it. Ever.
We stayed in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, and if you’ve ever lived in Brooklyn, you should be ashamed of yourself for failing to warn us about this place. At one point during our trip, we told a bartender in the Lower East Side we were staying in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and he shuddered visibly, peering nervously over each shoulder. “Bedstock…” he whispered, filling two shot glasses with rye. “These are on the house.”
Bedstock, or “Bed-Stuy,” can be seen in just about every Spike Lee movie ever made, and is home to such hip hop superstars as Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., Mos Def and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Though it is being swiftly and inevitably gentrified, Bed-Stuy can make one hell of an initial impression upon two white people who just stumbled off the A Train.
We arrived late at night in the pounding rain, huddled together like a pair of tiny stars in a sky full of midnight. But to be honest with you, no one seemed terribly impressed with us. In fact, the locals seemed to disregard our physical presence entirely, which is one of the things I like most about visiting New York City — the ability to lose one’s self in a quagmire of anonymity and thinly veiled contempt.
We stayed in the very heart of Bedstock, in a tiny hostel called 272 Putnam. Though we had our own room, the walls were paper thin, so the other hostel guests were privy to every sound we made — and you know exactly what I’m talking about here, dear readers. Our fellow travelers received an audio feast rich with safewords (ours was “banana”) and German expletives muffled by an orange ball-gag with a smiley face drawn on it. Just kidding! It was a frowny face.
Inexplicably, the private hostel room, which we’d specified was for just the two of us, contained two bunk beds:
The space was incredibly cramped, but we pushed the beds together anyway, forming a cozy little love-cage with no practical entrances or exits. Notice the crossbeam in Figure 2, hovering innocently at pubic level. Sliding beneath it required a new limbo world record and carried a 75% chance of paralysis, so I generally opted to climb over. Whenever I needed a glass of water in the middle of the night, I would toss one leg up and over, extending my toes toward the floor, and slap that Godforsaken crossbeam with my pendulous nutsack. (Have you ever thrown a pair of seedless grapes at a stop sign? Me neither, but I bet it makes the exact same sound.) I would then crumple to the floor and assume a fetal position until my wife noticed I was still in the room. “Honey?” she called, peering down at me. “I thought you were getting some—are you crying?”
Our room came with another interesting feature: the saddest house plant on the Eastern Seaboard. I think our hosts were attempting to enliven our room when they placed it on top of the mini fridge, but my wife and I died a little inside each time we looked at it.
“What should we name our house plant?” I asked.
“Horst,” replied my wife, without the slightest bit of hesitation.
Horst is probably dead by now, but I want him to know, although he failed to improve our hostel room’s prison cell aesthetic in the slightest, we greatly appreciated laughing at his expense. Oh, and I’m really sorry for pouring the watery remains of all my vodka cranberry drinks into his flower pot. That’s probably why he’s dead.
An interesting feature of the hostel overall (or any hostel, ever) was the clientele. Each guest had flown in from a different part of the world: France, Japan, England, Germany, Kenya… and we all had our cultural idiosyncrasies. For example, when I tried to make tea in the shared kitchen area, I discovered someone (I’m looking at you, Kenya) had diced up red potatoes with herbs and boiled them inside the tea kettle. Inside it! So instead of chamomile, my wife watched in confusion as I filled her mug with starchy cubes of retardation.
To be fair, 272 Putnam is a great hostel; it enjoys a fantastic reputation, charges very low rates, and the owners are extremely accommodating. The Wife and I just needed a little privacy, which is exactly what hostels tend not to provide. And on a side note, I would like to stay in a proper hotel next time so I can avoid sterilizing myself while making a hasty exit from bunk beds engineered by the Antichrist.
Click here to read New York Liaison: A Tale of Love and Projectile Vomiting in the Big Apple – Part IV
Click here to read New York Liaison: A Tale of Love and Projectile Vomiting in the Big Apple – Part III
Click here to read New York Liaison: A Tale of Love and Projectile Vomiting in the Big Apple – Part II
Click here to read New York Liaison: A Tale of Love and Projectile Vomiting in the Big Apple – Part I
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