Monday, August 18, 2008

Am I Wearing a Sign?

There are certain things that you expect to see if you spend a lot of time in Manhattan, or any major city really. Excessively pierced and/or tattooed individuals. Homeless people. Street theater and/or musicians. Rats the size of a small tiger. Flamboyantly dressed women or men pretending to be women. Women working to be treated like men. Tourists. The sidewalk preacher who may also a candidate for the loony bin. The Naked Cowboy. Activists passing out flyers. A fake baked chickie, her skin a dark-orange mess, walking like she was all that and a bag of Sun In. A professionally dressed couple macking on each other outside the World Trade Center at high noon. (Oh the stories I spun on that one!)

Public Urination.

For a while there during my tenure in NYC, I felt like I was wearing a sign that said "Please make my day and pee in front of me," because I seemed to be running into that a lot . Perhaps not surprisingly, these events occurred in and around the W. 4th Street subway station on the Blue Line as I was shuffling from work to classes at NYU. The Disneyfied area of midtown would never suffer such high jinx.

The first time was on a stormy day when the steps were slick with torrential rains. A clearly homeless woman had come down the first flight of stairs into the subway station to the covered midway landing and promptly squatted down and released a likewise torrential stream of urine. Just as I was coming up to that same landing from the subway.


Months later, walking up 4th Street towards NYU, a man drunkenly offered profuse apologies as I crossed the street and walked eastwards. "Sorry Miss, so sorry, sorry" he slurred at me. I couldn't figure out why he was apologizing to me until I notice that he was peeing against the side and bumper of a car right there in the middle of the street. I remember disgustedly saying to him "If you're sorry, don't do it," and walking swiftly by.

I mean, you kind of shrug that off as the price of doing business in the big city. But I haven't worked in the city for several years now and despite living in the fairly urban Weehawken for seven years, never had anything like that happen on this side of the Hudson River.

Until yesterday.

My new apartment is in a two-story house made up of two buildings that are connected by a second story bridge. The second building (not mine) houses the garage on the first floor and another apartment above it. It's actually quite and intriguing set up. Underneath the bridge and between the two buildings is an open breezeway connecting the front driveway to the backyard.

My landlord' s husband J looks like a tall Buddy Hackett. He's good natured and pleasant, just a tad odd and a bit eccentric. He seems to be around all the time, wandering around presumably doing upkeep things eschewing the backyard to take his rest in camp chairs set just outside our shared door in the breezeway.

Yesterday evening, I was out back in my own camp chair, enjoying the nearly forgotten pleasure of a summer evening in a backyard. My mosquito lamp was burning while I worked on my laptop in the company of a bottle of Vitamin water. I could hear J from time to time in the breezeway and wasn't surprised when he came through to the back yard. At the last minute, I decided not to acknowledge him as I knew he'd come over and jaw for a while and I wanted to keep writing while I was on a roll.

A few seconds later, I heard a faint buzz-like sound and looked around for any bees that might be swarming around. What I saw was J peeing into the weeds against the back wall of the garage. I confess I gaped for a minute, stupefied at what I was seeing. And then my first thought was "I am not telling my mother about this."

Apparently my new suburban landlord' s husband hasn't quite grasped the idea that there are "other people" living on the property now.

I'm choosing to believe that he didn't know I was there. I certainly didn't announce myself figuring it would only make the situation worse. I know that he likes to enjoy a beer or two once he gets back from his office cleaning job on Sunday, and I figure that probably impaired his awareness.

But come on!!!

What is the deal with people publicly peeing in front of me? Do I need to hang an occupancy sign in the back yard? A his and hers delineation line? A picture of a urinal with a line through it?

Maybe a placard reading "To Pee or Not to Pee - There is NO QUESTION!"


  1. I'm speechless on this one! I don't even want to waste one of my "nut" names on this - your landlord is enough of a nut already!

  2. Hmmmmm.....only two entries for the entire month of August??? What? Are you busy or something?

  3. Oh no, Kiersten! Wow!! Oh my! The city part, I can totally relate, although, I've never seen a woman pee in public... but when I see a man I give 'em a bad look and I usually let him know that I'm, ahem, there! In two instances the person had walked out of restaurant... so I just said plainly "Didn't you just come out of a restaurant, you animal?!"

    I'm enjoying your blog! :P