Thursday, October 12, 2006
Beauty in a rat-infested courtyard
Sometimes you can find beauty in seemingly disgusting places. For example: my wife and I live in an attractive Pre-War apartment building, and Columbia owns the place so the rent is way cheaper than it would be if it was market price. Anyhow, there is a dungeon-like courtyard where we must go to do the laundry. It's in the basement of our building. To get there you must descend some rusted-out stairs to an enclosed flat area with large stinking Dumpsters (registered trademark) where some of the fattest burliest rats in the world live and thrive. In fact, every other time I get there, a huge honking rat runs right in front of me, looking terrified. It's kind of strange, the way rats run in terror every time I approach. It's not like I'm going to try to pet them or eat them. Anyhow, I was dragging our laundry down the stairs of that rat-infested hellhole when, all of a sudden, I heard this unearthly sound: a woman singing, mezzosoprano, perfect pitch, perfect tone, and the sounds of it were wafting through the air, out of an open window on one of the upper floors. It was one of those moments where everything seems to stop for a while. I just stood there with my laundry basket balanced on one of the stairs and listened for 10 minutes. It was like front row seats at the Met. Then the singing stopped and the courtyard was quiet again. Only in New York.