Wait For It… a blog by Andy Ross

Old Gypsy Curse

Posted on March 23, 2011

When I first got cursed by the old Gypsy woman in apartment 3C, I told her, "Listen, old Gypsy woman, I'm not the one stealing your New York Times. I have an electronic subscription." Then, I brought down my Kindle from upstairs to prove it.

But, I can tell she's stubborn and doesn't admit to making mistakes. So, she refused to remove the curse. Plus, I'm not sure she quite understood what a Kindle was.

In the beginning I just ignored the hex, because I'm not superstitious. I mean, aside from holding my breath when I pass cemeteries and avoiding walking under ladders. And, the salt over the shoulder thing and a couple of others. But, I mostly don't believe in curses for the most part, mostly.

That's when weird stuff started happening in my apartment. Like whenever I'd play music, I'd hear this eerie, ghostlike thump thump thump from the floorboards. As if a restless spirit were dancing along with me. Arrhythmic, creepy dancing.

I went downstairs to ask the old Gypsy woman if she had heard the same noise coming from her ceiling, but she just slammed the door in my face. She must’ve gone back to her sweeping.

Then, the shower thing started. Whenever I’d take a shower, the water would turn ice cold. Like the coldness of death. Normally, I’d assume someone had coincidentally flushed a toilet in an adjacent apartment. But, it was happening every time I got in the shower. It had to be the curse!

More eerie things: On my lobby mailbox, a spectral mailing label appeared over my name with the word JERK in otherwordly, trembling scrawl. My front door wreath went missing. During one of my many parties, my guests found that shoes they had left in the hallway now had their laces tied in a jumble. Creeeepy.

I pleaded with the old Gypsy woman to lift the curse. “Please, old and scraggly Gypsy woman,” I pleaded, “Please remove this wretched hex!”

Well, it turns out that the old Gypsy lady is named Mr. Sol Hersheim. He’s one of those older men who, as they age, look more and more like an elderly Gypsy lady. Have you ever seen what Jackie Mason looks like now? If so, you’ll understand my confusion.

Once I figured all this out, the curse suddenly lifted. I brought Mr. Hersheim some cookies my wife had made, and I carry up his UPS packages from the stoop. The phantom icy showers stopped completely and my door wreath showed back up.

Every now and then, the ghostly thumping still occurs during my dance parties, but I’ve come to understand that that’s what you get when you live in an old building. I’d much rather have some mild haunting than a full-on curse.


Belly of the Beast

Posted on March 19, 2010


You know how in cartoons, they show the belly of a whale as empty and cavernous? It’s not like that at all. It’s actually very cramped. And wet. There’s a musky dampness to it, even with a dehumidifier running full blast. I’ve heard that the economy makes now a good time to move. All my friends are switching places, but I guess I’m torn.

Because, after a while, you get used to living in a tight space. Proud even. There’s comfort in all the little systems and workarounds. For instance, if I need the blender, I simply slide the desk chair over to the counter and pull a bin down from above the cabinets. Or, I move the hamper out of the way to get to the folding chairs in the back of the closet. And, I know my umbrella is always tucked into the baleen next to the trashcan.

Sure, I could break my lease and probably find more room for less rent, but would moving so soon be worth all the work I put into this whale? Laying furniture out was a huge process. I was literally on my hands and knees measuring the tongue to make everything fit. Forget feng shui; just getting it all in was a hassle. I had to take the legs off the bed to fit it through the mouth. The kitchen table is this ugly IKEA thing, but it folds down into a compact sideboard. Ultimately, I had to sell my tall bookcase, because it kept tipping over whenever we dived.

All that’s not to say I don’t like my place. Everybody who comes over finds it really charming, especially my college friends who commute in from McMansions. There’s a romanticism to it--the pink, fleshy walls, the thick shag taste buds, the constant undulation. I’ll tell you this, a whale is not a bad place to bring back a date. It’s right on the water, and the songs at night are so soothing compared to my last apartment above a fire station. I do wish it got a little more natural light, since the blowhole only opens for a few seconds every ten minutes or so. The trick was to angle mirrors on the mantle to bounce light up towards the large, dangling uvula.

I don’t know, maybe I should just bite the bullet and look for a new place. Every summer, the whale migrates north to gorge on krill, and thousands of the little things flood through the living room. I don’t mind the stains on the curtains, since they’re secondhand, but I have to keep my magazines in Ziplock bags. And, forget about suede shoes. Plus, it’s cold. If you see wall-to-wall blubber in a listing, take that with a grain of salt, because Arctic sea water is freezing. I would rather have a hissing radiator than blubber. Honestly.

So, I guess I’ve made my decision. I’m calling my landlord. Maybe. I’m eighty percent sure. The belly of the whale was my first place without a roommate, so maybe that’s what I’m in love with. I guess I could try for a studio in Morningside Heights. Sigh. I’ll probably just end up staying through the mating season.