The Man Cave

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I moved into my new apartment at the motel last Monday.  I expect to be here for a month or two until I find a more permanent residence.  Too bad Super Bowl isn’t coming up soon.  This place would be awesome for a Super Bowl Party.  There is a refrigerator right smack dab in the middle of the room.  That seemed strange, when I first saw it, but the first time I had to get up for a beer, and didn’t even have to get up, I was sold on the idea.

In addition to the cold beverage advantage for a Super Bowl party, this one-person studio apartment seats 8, with one of those seats being a Lazy Boy Chair with a heat and massage setting.  Dibs.  Plus, the TV is the size of a Buick.  It has a full-sized bed and a pull out couch, though I don’t think you could open the couch without moving the TV, and did I just mention that the TV is the size of a Buick.

It’s only one and a half rooms, but this place has everything, including the proverbial kitchen sink.

There are only two problems, the Wifi is not very reliable, and the wiring looks like it was done by either the Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges.  It is just a series of extension cords plugged into surge protectors that wind their way completely around the room.  I have no idea which wall switches control what.  To turn off a light, I just unscrew the bulb a little.  There is a toaster oven, but I haven’t tried that yet.  There are three all-you-can eat buffets within walking distance. Besides, I’m afraid that turning on another appliance would blow a fuse, if the wiring is indeed actually connected to a fuse box.  I count my blessings that the big TV and refrigerator both work at the same time.

The apartment WiFi is spotty.  Sometimes I have a signal.  Sometimes I don’t.  Fortunately, the motel WiFi always works, so when mine goes out and I have to do something on the Internet, I just take my laptop over to the front office of the motel.  I can also grab free coffee, juice, and donuts there, so sometimes I just pretend I lost my signal.

This place is a real man cave, and like I said, would be great for a Super Bowl party.  I asked for an apartment on Friday, and one suddenly became available on Sunday night.  I found it strange that the last guy living here vacated the place so suddenly.  When I walked in, I half expected to see a chalk outline on the floor.

Another reason this would be a great place for a Super Bowl party is noise suppression.  Last night, I decided to stay home and watch the Stakes races from Pocono Downs.  It was the first night that I didn’t go out and I was amazed by the amount of noise the walls could suppress.  Almost all of it.  Almost.  The volume control on my giant TV swallowed up the rest.  I hardly even knew that the couple in the next room were fighting, making up, fighting again, and making up again.

Plus, as a backup, in case the TV goes out, there is a bar almost right next door.  They’ve got good food, cheap beer, and great barmaids.  Hey, that might even be better than here for a Super Bowl Party.  They seat about 25.  I just wish they had free Wifi.

 

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

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Waking Amish

I made it to Lancaster, and I’ve already met a dozen people, mostly bartenders and barmaids, but, hey, who knows more about a town than the person who has to listen to everyone’s life story.  So, I considered my time spent in the local bars to be valuable research time.

For instance, the bartender at one downtown establishment told me not to bother to look for an apartment on the south side of town.  “The south side is a shithole.”  Unfortunately, that was after I had spent the entire morning checking out the apartments listed in the local newspaper, all of which happened to be on the south side.  I never should have waited until 2pm for my first beer of the day.  I could have saved myself a lot of walking if I had spoken to a bartender sooner.

By then, I had already ruled out getting a place in that part of town, anyway.  I don’t have very high standards, but the south side of town looked too seedy for even me.  I was slightly tempted by one entire house that was for rent cheap.  It was right across the street from a supermarket, which is usually a big plus, but even the two condemned buildings next door looked to be in better shape than it was.

As I continued my meandering around the town, I ran into a couple Jesus Freaks on the corner.  They originally asked me for a few minutes of my time, but, for some strange reason, they ran away long before their time was up.  I don’t think they ever met an Agnostic before.  They promised to pray for me.  I promised to drink for them, and I’m a man of my word.

Since I completely struck out apartment hunting on the first day, I thought it might be wise to push back my check-out date at the motel where I am saying, especially since an Internet search showed all the other places in the area to be more expensive.

“Mike,” I said to the front desk clerk, whose real name is probably Rajishkebob, “would it be possible for me to extend my check-out date for another 4 days?”

“Sure.”  Boom.  It was done.  He didn’t have to check anything in the computer.

I didn’t have to plead my case for an extension.  I already had the extension, but I still felt compelled to tell him why I needed to stay longer, so that he wouldn’t just think I wanted to stay longer because I was so impressed by the place.  “I’m looking for an apartment downtown, and I think it may take longer than I thought.”

“We have apartments here,” he said.  “Free Wifi, continental breakfast, and a pool.  You don’t want to live downtown.  You’ve seen Downtown.  Downtown is a shithole.  It’s better here.”

Remember that Rene Zellwiger line in the Show-me-the-money movie, Jerry McGuire, “You had me at hello.”  Mike had me at free Wifi.

So my apartment hunt is finished.  Ta-Daaaaa.  Damn, I’m good.  I’ll still keep my eye open for a more permanent place, but, at least I now have an address, The Knights Inn, Rt 30.  I have a beautiful view of an Amish farm and I’ve seen a few horses go by, some trotting faster than nags I’ve played at Yonkers.  (But, to be fair, the nags I bet weren’t being chased by cars, trucks, and buses.)

And tonight I celebrated my new hometown, by taking in a local minor league ballgame.  The Lancaster Barnstormers were playing the Long Island Ducks.  To make sure that I would make the right first impression on my new neighbors, I wore a Long Island Ducks hat and t-shirt to the game.  I also brought an official Donald Duck duckcall quacker bill which I had borrowed from Brother X.

The locals actually got a kick out of the quacker, and instead of getting beat up, I made some new friends.  When I told one of them about my plan to look for a new apartment in all the towns with Amtrak connections to New York and Johnstown, he thought that was a good idea.  “Skip Harrisburg, though,” he said.  “Harrisburg is a shithole.”

I had to laugh.  It seems that everyone I met in this town from the richest to the poorest was happy and friendly. They were all thankful for where they were living, because, in their opinion, anywhere else was a shithole.  I was caught up in it.  I was thankful that I had found a place that was convenient to everything, on a major bus route, comfortable, clean, and where I woke up to look at a great big beautiful Amish farm.

When I got off the bus, I stopped at the bar next door to the motel for a nightcap, and after a few pints, the barmaid asked me where I was from.

“Originally, I’m from New York.  But now” I smiled, “I live next door.”

“That shithole?”

“Shithole, with a pool and Wifi,” I corrected.  Gotta represent my new neighborhood.

 

Peace & Love and all of the above,

Earl

 

Back to the Future

I finished moving out of my apartment in New Hyde Park around 9:15 p.m. on August 1st.  By 9:30 all my stuff was safely stored in two storage units in a nearby storage warehouse.  I still hadn’t packed for my trip to Lancaster, PA, though, so I spent the next hour in the warehouse packing what I would need to take with me.  The storage place is closed between 10 pm and 6 am, but I was assured that while entry was prohibited during those hours, exit was possible at any time.  So, I left the warehouse, fully packed, at 10:30 p.m.

A funny thing happened in the parking lot, though.  There is a gate that goes up when a car pulls up to leave.  I didn’t have a car, just me, my suitcase, a knapsack, and some cut-up fruit.  Together, we weren’t big enough to set off the automatic detection device, and the gate wouldn’t go up.  There was a slim possibility that I might have been able to climb the gate, but the two laptop computers in my suitcase would never survive being tossed over the fence.  So, I was stranded overnight in the parking lot.

I tried to regain access to the warehouse, but, since it was after 10, that didn’t work.  Then it started to rain.  I put my suitcase under the small awning outside the manager’s office and went to seek shelter for myself.  There were about 20 vehicles in the parking lot and I started checking all the doors to see if they were locked.  They were, until I got to the last group of vehicles and one of the vans was unlocked on the passenger side.

On August 1st, 1977, my soon-to-be-ex-wife moved to Carteret, NJ, and I decided that it was not in my best interests to move in with her.  So, I lived in my van for two weeks until I found my own apartment in Weehawken, NJ.  Now, exactly 36 years to the day later, I once again found myself homeless and seeking shelter in a van.  Like Yogi Berra would say, it was déjà vu all over again.

It took me a while to get into a comfortable position, where I could maybe get some sleep, and as soon as I did, I realized that I hadn’t taken my nightly medications.  I was exhausted from packing and moving all month, and I didn’t want to risk having a heart attack following all that exertion, so I got out of my comfortable position, put my sneakers back on and went to my luggage for my meds.

I didn’t have any water to wash them down, so I chewed some of the cut up fruit, added the pills and swallowed.  Then I headed back to the van.  I crawled back into the same position as before, but this time it wasn’t comfortable.  I tried numerous positions, but none remained comfortable for more than a few minutes.  So, I dozed and woke up, dozed and woke up continuously until 4 a.m. when I saw headlights in the rear-view mirror.  The guys who emptied the dumpster arrived to do their thing.  The gate was open.  I seized the opportunity and my luggage and got out while the getting was good.

I caught the 4:11 train to Penn Station and arrived there around 5 a.m.  I walked up to the Port Authority bus terminal to catch a bus to the motel in Secaucus, NJ where I had reservations.  The bus terminal was locked closed!!!  So much for New York being the city that never sleeps.

Eventually, the terminal opened and I caught a bus to Jersey.  I got to the motel just a few hours before check-out time.  Fortunately, they gave me a late check out so I could get some sleep.

Things got better after that.  I stayed with my friends Barbara and Jim the next two nights and spent Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack watching the Hambletonian and other big Harness races.

Now, I’m on an Amtrak train headed to Lancaster, PA, where I will begin the search for my future apartment.  I don’t know what the future has in store, but I’m looking forward to the adventure, and I hope it will be worth writing about.

Peace & Love and all of the above,

Earl