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The Column

My Two-Bedroom Furbee
2/2/03

Apartment hunting in a seller's market is like Christmas shopping the third week of December. While your wallet will benefit from patience and persistence, you will occasionally have to kick another shopper in the shin and grab the last furbee.

I do not mean to seem out of touch by using the furbee as an example of a desired commodity; rather, I wanted to show that no one my age is in the market for the latest and greatest apartment. However, there are still enough of us shopping for furbees that even the smallest furbee store can hold an open house and expect us to trip over each other for the privilege of paying hundreds of dollars a month for a talking Gremlin. Okay, even I've lost the analogy.

Let me start over and simplify things – I've spent the last few weeks looking for an apartment and the process has been less enjoyable than playing with a furbee.

When I moved to Boston, I wrote a goodbye column to New York. I should have just said, "see you soon," because it took me just three months before I moved back to the city that can't seem to get a good night's rest. In subsequent columns, I only made veiled references to my return trip because I was unsure of its permanence. Mainly because furbees are expensive.

If you want to know what it costs to get an apartment in New York, think about whatever you're paying now and double it. If you live in a state that starts with an I or a K, triple it. Unless everyone who reads this column also buys my book – twice – I'm not going to have the kind of money it takes to get my own place here. But if I add up my stand-up comedy, book sales, and columns, I have just enough money to pay off my student loans and live with my parents. I'm kidding, of course. That's what I do – you should be used to it by now.

All of this kidding has finally earned me enough to get a decent place with a roommate, which in New York is still more expensive than a two-bedroom house in a K state.

The first place I contacted was also the first place I visited, which is atypical since most of these people ignore you. So many of us want a good apartment that apartment-listers can act like bouncers at a hot club, not even bothering with you if they don't like your shoes.

When I got there, I was luckily wearing nice shoes. The apartment was small, but it was very clean and had lots of nooks and crannies for storing suitcases, boxes, and the occasional English muffin. The girl that was living in the other bedroom was amiable, so much so that her name was actually Amy. I took this as a good sign, but the apartment got smaller when two other people showed up to look at it, and smaller still upon the arrival of three more. In a sudden effort to mark my territory, I pulled out my…checkbook and offered to pay February's rent immediately. My offer was politely declined, and I was told the next day that Amy decided against having a male roommate. Guys, it seemed, were not Amy-able. And though I contemplated a sex change, I decided that the rent would have to have been much lower.

The second place was a three-bedroom already equipped with two guys, so my shoes were incidental. It was an amazing location, a great price, and the guys seemed pretty cool – except it was a railroad setup. "Railroad," which comes from the ancient Greek for "no privacy," means I'd have to walk through their rooms to get to mine. I wanted it anyway, but lost out when a female friend of theirs decided to take it. I seriously considered that sex change.

The third apartment was just awful. It had a couple living in one bedroom of a two, and though they had been looking for a female roommate, they said they'd give me a chance. They also said they had a small dog, which turned out to be in the shape of a large horse. Allegedly, the dog just wanted to play with me, which didn't quite explain why its mouth needed to be tied shut. My theory is that the dog just wanted to play with my gnawed-off arm. The whole place was filled with dog food, dog toys, dog hair, and dog smell. I think the dog had been living in one bedroom and renting the other to the couple. And he didn't care what gender I was – he just wanted lunch.

A 6th floor walkup, a shared studio, and a large common area with "bedrooms" that had three-foot-high ceilings later, I finally found a place. It's a two-bedroom in a great location for a decent price, and my roommates are awesome – two chill girls sharing the other room. When I told this to a friend of mine, she said, "don't let them paint your toe nails or put makeup on you or anything."

"Of course not," I replied. "Not unless they lower the rent."

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