I had a great apartment in Washington Heights. Washington Heights was a neighborhood on the northern tip of New York City. Residents called it “Upstate Manhattan.” Hell’s Kitchen was suddenly too expensive, so Brooklyn was the new cool place to live. My sneering Brooklyn friends, once they deigned to visit me, suddenly reconsidered the wisdom of trekking through deserted industrial areas to reach their admittedly charming brownstone apartments. Washington Heights had VIEWS. River views. And not river views of industrial New Jersey. The view from my apartment was the graceful George Washington Bridge, draped across the Hudson River like a strand of pearls linking Manhattan to the soaring rock Pallisades.
I didn’t live in Washington Heights for my view, although I’d never have a nicer view unless I landed in New Zealand at some point in my future. I’d moved to Washington Heights ten years ago because it was cheap and I stayed there for Bethel. Bethel was my fat, squat, ill-tempered rat terrier/chihuahua mix, and Bethel lived to stand on the banks of the Hudson with her toes splayed in the cool mud.
On that particular spring day, my friend Moira was visiting me to sneer at my neighborhood while secretly wishing that she’d found it before me.
“A bunch of Dominicans ogled my ass while I was walking from the subway,” Moria bitched.
“Since when has that been a problem for you? Honestly, you’d bitch if nobody had ogled your ass. You’d say only queers live here.”
“You are the only queer I know who lives here. Have YOU ogled my ass? Hmmm?” Moira leaned forward anxiously. She didn’t really want An Embarrassing Homosexual Incident, but she so loved compliments that she constantly fished.
“Of course I’ve ogled your incredible ass, Moira. But I know that my love for you will go unrequited because you have found endless bliss with a man who would live in intensive care if only he could find a doctor who would say that something is wrong with him.”
Moira hissed like a snake. Her Irish eyes snapped at me. Then she settled back onto the futon and admitted, “He made me push him around in a fucking courtesy wheel chair when we went to Walmart in Jersey City with my family last week. My mother is never going to stop talking about it. But, he has a great big dick. When are you going to get rid of that fucking dog?”
The foundation of my friendship with Moira was pointless, rambling argument. Sensitive souls couldn’t bear to be around us, which was good, because we honestly felt that sensitive souls were absolutely no fun.
I considered Bethel for a moment. Bethel sat under the coffee table, glaring at Moira. Bethel switched her glare to me. Then back to Moira. Moira glared at us both. It was a glare-fest.
“Bethel is the only good thing I got out of that relationship. That and a healthy reluctance to ever let another lesbian into this apartment. I love Bethel. And, I at least have a little warning before Bethel plans to bite me.”
“OK, keep the damn dog. Let it ruin your social life. Let it ruin my sinuses. Take me somewhere, if there is anywhere in this shithole neighborhood to go.”
“Let’s go watch them demolish the 175th St. Loews. I bet you’ve never seen a corporation tear down a landmark before.”
“Will there be Dominicans, there?”
“OK,” Moira smirked, “Let’s go. Leave the damn dog.”
“No way. Bethel loves destruction.”