New York Liaison: A Tale of Love and Projectile Vomiting in the Big Apple – Part I

New York Liaison: A Tale of Love and Projectile Voliting in New York City

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.

Packing for my flight to New York City
The essentials: 3D glasses, half-gallon of vodka, jug of cranberry juice and a copy of The Hunger Games.

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.”

New York hostel street view Nostrand
"Not so scary in the daylight, ARE you, Bedstock."

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:

Our bunk beds in the hostel in New York City
Figure 1: How we found them.
Bunk beds pushed together in a private hostel room
Figure 2: How we arranged them.

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.

Hostel room mini fridge, vodka and Horts the house plant
Horst was a total drunk.

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.

New York Hostel building Putnam Brooklyn
272 Putnam... where worlds collide.

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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35 thoughts

  1. By the time the wife asked “are you crying?” I did, too, with laughter!
    Honestly, after having read your description of this lovely little hostel I wouldn’t mind staying there myself next time I visit New York – except I REALLY don’t want to run the risk of having to sleep in the same bunk bed that repeatedly had to suffer through the trauma (not to mention the hygienic implications) of getting slapped with two seedless grapes! *shudder*
    Can’t wait for the second installment now, I am a glutton for yuck.


  2. How the hell did yo land in Bed-Sty?? Hate to say this but…jesus, are you guys naive or what? (This from former resident of a rathole “hotel” in the Garment District.)


  3. OMG … I’ ve stayed in a hostel decades ago when I was a student. It would not cross my mind to do it again. I prefer my privacy I have to say.

    Would there have been a chance to save Horst? I’m just wondering ….



  4. This is one of the funniest posts I’ve read in a long time! I have lived in Brooklyn and if I would’a known I’d have told you not to go to Bed-Stuy (worst ‘hood in NYC). It’s much worst that E-Harlem. I can’t believe there’s even a hostel there. Next time you’re NY-bound, shoot me a message. :)


  5. OMG! I laughed my face off as I read this post!!! I’m looking forward to moving to New York but thanks to you I know to stay away from Bedsuck, I mean Bed-Stuy.


  6. this post really made me laugh so hard!!!

    Gosh, if I had known. Bedstuy is the ABSOLUTE GHETTO of New York. Did your tourist guides fail to mention this? Oh gee, I can only imagine… Good you didn’t get robbed though! And sorry for your unintentional castration… :-S


  7. My wife and I also met for the first time in NYC in 2005, but we stayed in a private home whose garage is converted into a “B&B” (= decent sleeping and eating arrangements, Ami breakfast accoutrements) in Astoria. If you are curious, we still have their business card and I can give you more details. Great neighborhood about 3 blocks from the subway station.


      1. When I was in college, I roomed with an extremely rich, extremly spoiled, self proclaimed “JAP-Jewish American Princess”, who also was Israeli. Her family decided to take me to NY to show me the good life (I guess?) on an all expenses paid trip. I was extremely uncomfortable and out of place around these types, but I went anyway because I liked her and enjoyed her company. I was very nervouse I would embarrass myself. After we checked into the Waldorf, we changed and headed off to this fancy smancy place. I felt uncomfortable just stepping in the door. The prices on the menu were beyond anything I have ever payed for an outfit, let alone a meal. I ordered the cheapest thing, but the grandma insisted I eat scallops off her plate…big mistake.

        We went to go see White Christmas on Broadway…the show was great but towards the end I started to sweat and feel sick. I excused myself and went to the bathroom…nothing happened so I felt safe to go back to them. As we were standing outside of the theatre waiting for the grandma to go to the restaurant, I started to hurl voraciously into a trashcan in front of everyone. A person actually threw his water bottle into the trash can WHILE I was bent over it. Since walking back to the hotel was not an option, the parents decided we should take a town car (WHY??) As I watched the father slip the driver a couple of hundreds, I felt sick again…not wanting to further be embarrassed I resigned myself to the town car…the driver started chatting us up…the potholes got to me…I kept trying to hold it in but finally I screamed at the driver to stop and I jumped out of the car while it was moving to vomit into a tree planter. The mother kept staring at me while I vomited, transfixed..I’m guessing she had never seen anything like it…neither had I…I NEVER throw up. I have also NEVER seen people so unphased by vomit. At least 25 pedestrians passed, glancing at me, then turning their heads as if they saw a stray kitten on the sidewalk. Come ON people, a little sympathy?
        So anyways, we walk the rest of the way back to the hotel and I immediately go to bed. Exhausted and sore, I drift into sleep. I wake up to strange noises. Forgetting where I was I jolted awake, realizing that someone was standing over me…apparently, I was to pay no mind…it was the grandma reciting over me in Hebrew….although it could have been a magic spell?? I never looked at New York the same way again…


      2. That is amazing! Great story. And yeah, it seems like New York City can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. It all depends on your situation.

        I’m glad we can share this bond of vomiting while in NYC, Revert. :) Well met.


  8. Harharharhahaha!!! LOVE this story. I hope the whole nutsack issue has nothing to do with deferring parenthood… Like the photo illustrations; bring the entire drama to life.
    I clicked on the link for your love-nest:
    “If you don’t like cats, please don’t book. (*SEE COMMENT BELOW*)

    Cosy guesthouse in Brooklyn catering mostly to students and travelers. Stunning rooms, great location and cheap rates …

    Voted Best Atmosphere by Hostelbookers customers in June. PLEASE READ everything BEFORE booking

    You will need a valid passport or a non NY state ID.

    272 Put. was founded by 2 Pratt students, Lili and Jo-Jo (*CATS = LESBIANS- I can say that because I am one*- actually it is usually smelly dogs…but, whatever.*)
    They dreamed to create a quirky guesthouse that would truly feel like a home away from home….” (DO YOU HAVE BOOBY TRAP BUNK BEDS AT HOME??)


  9. I want you to know that this is the best blog of all times ever. Your “Things to know before marrying a German” article came up on Google and it is impossible to stop reading! My fiance is American and we’ve definitely had some German-American moments together. Has your wife ever told you about the game where we get our hands tied behind our backs and jump up, trying to bite off a piece of sausage on a string?


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