I found the next broker. Her name was Karen and, typical of her trade, she was effusive and chatty over the phone.
After I gave her our thumbnail biographies, and laid out our rules, she seemed excited to meet up with us. I stressed that we couldn’t, COULD NOT, in no way could we, see a place that cost more than $1400 a month. Because, as mentioned, that was the absolute breaking point for what we could afford to pay on one salary, and have the move still make any sort of fiscal sense, once fees and moving charges were factored in.
“Oh, got it, I have some places, nice doorman buildings in fact that sound absolutely perfect for you,” she gushed. Yeah, I would say gushed is a fair word here. “With laundry and everything! Trust me, these are exactly what you’re looking for. I know.”
Sounded good to me. So with the memory of Ditmas Park receding as fast as we could make it we got back in the car and drove the 25 minutes to Bay Ridge. We met Karen near 100th Street. She would’ve almost been in the shadow of the Verrazano Bridge, except it was night. In other words we were way, way south of, and away from, everything, but if the nice apartments were down here it would be worth it.
We met Karen in front of the first building we were to see. She had a thick native-New Yawker accent, and seemed very friendly and excited to show us some apartments. She was probably in her mid-to-late 30s and unlike Lauren she wasn’t late, and unlike Chris she didn’t seem like she’d just stepped out of a keg party. In other words she seemed professional.
The building itself was a sleek, well-maintained affair; nothing out of place, everything clean and if not new at least in excellent working order. At the entryway Karen waved to the doorman, whom she seemed to know. He was an older, white-haired guy, from some sort of old country, but I couldn’t tell which one. Then we were met by the people who owned the building, a father and son team. They were both Asian, and extremely excited to meet up with us. The father was named Richard, although he was obviously a first-generation immigrant from Asia, and the son was named David, an easy name for me to remember. The father looked to be in his mid-to-late 50s, and the son was in his early-to-mid 20s. David had obviously been born in the U.S., and did most, but not all, of the talking.
They lead us into an elevator, and the first sign that this wasn’t going to be yet another typical apartment hunt was that the elevator closed behind us and spoke. “Going up!” a femme-botty voice chirped cheerfully. It was loud, and sounded like the future as imagined 20 years ago. “Fourth floor!” it/she said, prompting us to emerge.
With a touching amount of excitement and pride Richard opened the door to the apartment and we walked in. Wow.
The first thing I noticed was the rich, dark brown wood that covered a far wall. Second I noticed the flagstones on the floor, slate of some kind, a dark, lustrous gray. Another far wall was mostly covered in glass, with a wide-angle view of the bridge. Now it was my turn for my eyes to widen a little. This was a seriously nice apartment.
“See, lots of closet space.” Richard volunteered, gliding a pair of doors open to reveal, indeed not only closets, but closets with little mini-shelves built into them. He beamed at us.
“And over here,” he continued, leading us into the living room, “is space for where a lot of young couples make room for the baby.” The flooring itself was also a deep, reddish wood. After seeing so many cheapie parquet or linoleum floors this was akin to a revelation.
There was also a little kitchen nook with brand new everything, including a brand-new, yes, dishwasher.
David then led us into the bedroom, which was smallish, but had a TV stand, and another nice-sized closet. Everything in the apartment was tidy, and immaculately kept, even if the actual living space was, it’s true, kind of on the small size. On the upside all this dark polished wood, and stone definitely brought to mind Greg Brady’s dream bachelor pad.
And it only got better from there.
After getting several eyefuls of the apartment Richard and David led us outside to the building’s deck, which was about the size of a football field, and included multiple areas in which to grill, or just rest with a chair. Again, their pride in their building was just so apparent, it was touching.
But, still, there was more.
Loading back into the femme-evator we went into the basement where there were about 10 nearly immaculate, new laundry machines, storage for extra goods, a gym, and, wait for it, a sauna.
They wanted us, the father and son, they did. We were a couple, with a baby coming. We aren’t going to leave them hanging. I work at a place that is quite literally synonymous with money, even if I make about as much as a decent pastry chef.
Once out the door we immediately turned to Karen. Yeah, this place looked nice.
“Okay,” she said. “They want $1500, but they might be willing to work with it. I’ll ask.” She’ll ask is right. Because even if it seems hard to fathom, $1400 we could just, just, just afford, stretching our budget dollars like spandex at a Weight Watcher’s convention. But $1500 was just one, or maybe even two, tokes over the line.
This night was already promising, and there were still two more places for us to see. I was finally getting excited about finding a new apartment, again.