I’m writing a story about how I dropped out of college, worked, lived in a five room apartment in a complex every New Yorker knows—Stuy Town, moved to Israel after traveling in Europe with people I met on the plane, came home and….well, somethings should be a surprise.
Actually that’s the barest of outlines. When I went to the Cereal King’s college, a large group of theater professionals came to campus and virtually moved in.
The hairstylist (I’ve always had Madison Avenue hairstylist friends—I think they find my thicker than thou mane a challenge) found me an apartment with a friend of his who was living in her uncle’s apartment.
He had been an assistant police commissioner who had to leave the city in a hurry for reasons I never really knew. Today I would have immediately googled him but then I was too lazy to go to the library.
My mother was excited beyond reason at me living in Stuy Town. I walked into my parents kitchen that had a fridge masquerading as cabinets and underneath that was a “housewife’s desk” I guess you would call it,
Unfortunately the fridge was only made for our development, and when it broke your parents had to redo a large part of a very large kitchen.
Anyway, she was sitting at her desk with her phone book next to her. “What are you doing?”
“Calling everyone we know who lived in Stuyvesant Town to let them know you’re moving there.”
She didn’t say those words but that’s what she meant.
I think she might have also wanted to tell them that I wasn’t just gainfully employed but had a good job for a college dropout at a large publishing house.
“Everyone we knew” ranged from one of her sisters to many relatives—some I didn’t know or know well, and more friends than you could imagine.
Stuy Town was built by Metropolitan Life as affordable housing for returning vets. It, and its more affluent sister or brother really, Peter Cooper Village, was mammoth.
The buildings were huge apartment towers with park type areas and playgrounds. Across 14th Street was The East Village where the average building was six stories tall. Six stories was the legal limit for a walk up building.
I know my parents realized that I was moving to 14th Street and Avenue B—more commonly known as Alphabet Town. Even people who lived in its neighbor to the west, The East Village, feared Alphabet Town.
I never really understood why my parents didn’t try to stop my move or if they put blinders on and thought that Stuy Town was a magical place exempt from violence.
I wasn’t scared. I had learned that past summer when I worked near Park Avenue South that construction workers might ogle me, and make me uncomfortable but they would protect me from danger.
I had the worlds greatest street face, something desperately needed then, and secretly thought that a cadre of construction workers would be around at all times to protect me.
In the months that I lived there nothing bad ever happened to me. I never told my parents that while I lived in Stuy Town more than a few women were raped in the elevators.
I think there are times in your life you can’t really live unless you have the perfect blinders, and I did.