Typically Brooklyn is cheaper than Manhattan. However, we were pressed for time — with our current sublet expiring in a few days, my boyfriend and I needed a place to crash and quickly. On Craigslist, we found a basement brownstone apartment to share with an investment banker. He lived upstairs. The bedroom was not furnished, but we settled in for what we anticipated to be a calm and civilized month. How crazy could it be to live with a banker? Well, it turned into an unexpected bizarre four weeks, compliments of our unexpected roommate.
While our human roommate had been transparent about the unfurnished room, he had not been so clear about his frequent overnight guests – his girlfriend and her smelly old cat. Inconveniently, the banker’s girlfriend’s subletting roommate was allergic to the feline princess so the cat often stayed at our place. This cat ruled the roost – he went everywhere and so did his smell.
Regardless of the cat, without furniture, our first assignment was to secure a bed for sleeping. Browsing the bed section at a local store, we decided on a futon, but just the mattress part. Recent college graduates on a budget, our thought process was if we purchased the futon in sections, it was more affordable, especially when it came to moving again in one month. Of course, the futon store did not have our mattress in stock so they lent us a loaner mattress for the month.
One night, when our roommate was away for the weekend, my boyfriend and I went out, carefully shutting our apartment door while the cat remained at home to wander upstairs. When we returned to the apartment, it was past midnight. There was a horrible smell permeating the air, more horrible than normal. Oh, no, we realized that smelly cat had defacated everywhere. With panic in our eyes, my boyfriend and I thought the same thing at once and ran down the stairs to our apartment.
There in the middle of the bed, on top of our duvet cover and pillows was a giant pool of cat pee. Moving as fast as possible, we shoved the sheets and covers off the bed with the hope that our worst fear was not realized – was our loaner mattress ruined? With a sigh of relief, we realized, the pee had just missed soiling the loaner mattress.
With the smell sickening, we bagged up the bedding. Of course, there was not a laundry machine in the building. No cab would pick us up with the smelly bags of soiled bedding. So, we walked, nearly half a mile, carrying the “Santa-esque sacks” filled with linens. It was one of those moments when you just knew that if you could make it through this with someone, you could make it through almost everything.
At 1am, we sat on the bench in the laundromat, chewing on stale Snickers from the vending machine, watching our bedding go around in circles in the machines. Thankfully, the smell and stains were removed. But, the memories were not. Years later, we adopted a pet cat. Everytime it goes near our bed, I get flashbacks.