I have developed a crush on Richie, the handsome, well spoken, meticulous fellow who is in charge of plaster, moldings and painting at my new apartment. I haven't made a full-on pass a Richie yet because it seems like inappropriate behavior even if it's not actually sexual harassment to hit on the painter. More importantly, though, I seem to recall that Kathleen Turner made a spectacle of herself by making a pass at the plumber. In the version of this vicious gossip that I heard, Kathleen had on a peignoir and was carrying a bottle of scotch. The story was circulating when she was in some Tennessee Williams play on Broadway. Most likely Streetcar. Anyway, she was developing a reputation as a bovine lush at the time - and I really, really would hate to be compared to a bovine lush. Kathleen Turner was in another play a couple of years later where she was naked on stage. By that time, nobody called her bovine anymore. They just said she was brave to appear naked on stage at her age which sort of pisses me off. She's not that much older than me, and she and I have a similar body type. She and I also have a similar way of winding up at the bar at Cafe Luxembourg as soon as they start serving liquor on Sundays. She just leaves on her sunglasses.
Richie seems to like me, though, so when he said he wanted to see pictures of the apartment once I had gotten settled, I invited him over for black eyed peas on New Years Day. Today I have to get over to the apartment to make sure he's got my contact information. At least, giving him my number is on today's agenda. It's more important at the moment for me to regularly monitor the progress since Andy the Contractor had a fantasy that he'd be done with the job this week. That was before we discovered that the reason somebody put the refrigerator on a three inch platform was NOT because the floor boards took up precious inches near the floor so that the refrigerator would only fit properly into the space if it were raised above the molding.
The reason the refrigerator was on a platform is because there's a damn 3-inch pipe sticking up out of the floor underneath it. My mother and I think this pipe was the drain for the melting ice in the icebox back when the building was constructed in 1916. Sometime after electric refrigerators were invented, the landlord must have cut and capped off the drain pipe. I think I've seen pictures of old refrigerators that had legs - so even though a capped off pipe sticking out of the floor was unsightly, you could still slide the unit into the space without an issue.
Clearly, that damn pipe became an issue later, and the landlord solved the problem by building a platform. Once the building went coop in the early 1980's, the pipe became the shareholder's problem. By that time, Hope would have already lived in the apartment with the refrigerator on a platform for over fifty years, so when she got a new refrigerator about 20 years ago, she continued to use the platform solution. Why not? She had gotten along fine for years, and it's not like anyone upgraded anything in the apartment since the coop brought the building up to code in 1982. She did have a security system and burglar bars installed, but I can see why a little old lady would have been scared in that neighborhood years ago. Grown men with weapons were scared in that neighborhood back then.
I do wish someone would have mentioned the pipe in the floor when they busted up the platform over a week ago. Richie was on vacation at the time, and a new guy came in to do some sanding and any other miscellaneous jobs that fell to the low man on the totem pole. I don't like him much because he's always grunting, belching and farting while he ignores me with a slight air of hostility. There are two other guys - a big one who did all the major sanding of plaster. At the moment, he's taken the doors off the built in china cupboard and put them in the bathtub in order to scrape off the lead paint. He sings while he works and is very friendly, although he doesn't have much to say for himself. I suspect he's the one who wrote "GOD IS BOSS" in pencil on the bathroom door when they first started working.
There's also this little guy who has been laboring for a couple of weeks on the tile in the bathroom. He's putting together the cabinets, and when I told him I was shopping for back splash tiles he told me to get squares. Apparently, he's had enough of rectangles since they're a pain in the ass to line up around corners, windowsills etc. He uses the big saw in the sink to cut the tiles.
He did an excellent job in the bathroom, and he seems to be doing okay with the cabinets. There will be a shelf for open storage running under the cabinets, and his head is in the spot where I'm putting the microwave. I think I'm getting a small GE Profile, even though my nose is still out of joint over GE dishwasher that spontaneously combusted and led to my eventual divorce. Maybe that was for the best, all things considered. Either way, though, GE is an arms manufacturer, but Mother says Whirlpool and the rest are just as bad when it comes to weapons, nuclear reactors, oil rigs and shit like that. In any case, I don't believe this little fellow is the one who discovered the pipe under the refrigerator and didn't tell anyone. I think it was The Farter.
I think the Farter dismantled the platform, left the wood on the floor and shoved the refrigerator partially back into the space without telling anyone anything about the dang pipe. Andy the Contractor certainly didn't know anything about the pipe when I sent him a text about it yesterday after Richie moved the refrigerator out of the way so I could look behind it.
The reason it was so tricky to determine why the refrigerator was on a platform to begin with is because the fridge lives between the wall and the old dumb waiter. Too bad the building wouldn't let me turn that dumb waiter into a pantry, but they reserve access to that space since the electrical wires for the whole line are in there.
Here's one of the shelves over the refrigerator which shows how tight and specific the space is:
It seems to me that Andy the Contractor is very good at lots of things, but he's been so focused on the bathroom that he forgot all about the kitchen. The electrician has come into the apartment twice to upgrade the electricity and that ancient fuse box is still on the wall to the left of the fridge, as well as the annoying plug which clearly should have been located somewhere less conspicuous. Removing the fuse box, which I think is called a GFI, is definitely on the original scope of work and in the estimate. Moving the plug is sort of my fault because the scope of work said to move outlets per my direction and I never went in and drew a picture on the wall with a red sharpie.
Actually, I have never drawn on the walls with sharpie at all. I left post-it notes. But I still forgot about that plug - and so did Andy. I just thought that since I was clearly limited in this area, I was paying the contractor to think ahead. Live and Learn.
Mother says that cutting a hole in the floor so that the pipe can be cut down and capped off and covered under the floor - and then securing the floor is no big deal. She said my dad could cut that pipe in thirty minutes and there was no reason to pay a plumber $85/hour to cut a pipe that hasn't been used in fifty years. Mother doesn't live in New York City. I'm thinking this little surprise is going to cost me five hundred bucks - but I may still be able to get my stuff out of storage on 12/12/12.
Meanwhile, Richie has cheerfully been adding the Feng Shui drops from Daughters of Isis to the paint. He was jazzed to hear all about The Blender, Gwendolyn Holden Barry who studied mythology with Joseph Campbell and everything.
When I showed him the little bottles, we had to stand together in the sunlight by the window and hold them at arm's length to read the labels together, so I know Richie and I are in the same demographic. Today I want to know where he grew up and how he knows about Feng Shui but hadn't learned about black eyed peas on New Years Day until two years ago. A while back, Velvet and I ran into Richie at the apartment and were talking about how nice he is as we left the building. When I wondered if Richie was married, Velvet said, "Mom! He's not even 30 years old." I told Velvet he was at least 35, and now that I know he can't see jack shit without reading glasses, I'm betting he's nearly as old as I am.
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