Saturday, February 23, 2008

New York, New York

1981, I was 20, almost done with my study and wanted to do my apprenticeship in New York. I asked the school if they would allow me two weeks off to go to NY, which they refused. So I called myself sick and went.

I stayed in the YMCA-hotel cause that was the cheapest place I could find; not aware of the attraction it has to men with a certain sexual appetite. Every floor of the hotel had its own communal washing place and when I was taking a shower two really very friendly men, also in Adam's costume, started washing my back without asking. To say that I felt uncomfortable would be an understatement. That event, plus the fact that whenever I wanted to use the only bathroom on that floor I saw my neighbor laying naked in his bed with the door and his legs invitingly wide open, made me look out for other options to spend my nights.

My idea was to go to a synagogue to meet people who could help me find a job and if possible where I could stay a few nights. So I first went to Temple Emanuel, that I knew from Bette Middler’s statement: “a lot of kissing and mezuzahs”, where I rang the bell and asked for the rabbi. “The who?” was the reply through the intercom I received. Eventually I found a real synagogue with a real rabbi. It was Pesach and I was invited for both Seder evenings with some very nice Sefardic people. Their sort of food was new to me and the matzos they ate were the driest I ever had. I stayed a few nights with these people and then went back to the YMCA.

Around that time I developed a certain uneasy feeling and even pain in the excretory opening at the end of my alimentary canal (just not to say the word "anus"). This unpleasant sensation in my private parts made me worry that, although nothing indecent had happened to me, I had caught some indefinable disease in the YMCA (Once back home, the school doctor reassured me that it was just hemorrhoids, most probably caused by the very dry matzos I ate.) I had bought new shoes a few days before I went to NY and that might have not been the smartest thing I ever did. When I was walking up and down Manhattan trying to find me a place to work the huge blisters on my feet and the painful itchy hemorrhoids gave me a walk that would not suit ill in Monty Python's sketch of the Ministry of Silly Walks.

One afternoon I saw a group of men standing around a table in the street playing the shell game and because I didn’t have much money left and the game seemed to be really easy I gambled half of my money. Needless to say that I lost. When going back to my hotel room depressed about this, I found that someone had been in my room and stolen my camera.

When I started to look around for a job I began with the big companies, just to find out that nobody was really waiting for me. Finally at the last day I found a place in some obscure shop but received a letter less then a month after I got back home that there wasn’t any place for me there after all. Besides looking for a job, I also had to find a place to live in case I could get a job. The only place I could find was from a man who offered the use of his apartment “in exchange for friendship”, something I didn’t have to think long about after my YMCA experiences.

My relationship with NY has never been restored.

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