Two Anoles

Also Frank Lloyd Wright, carrots, and a mystery in the doctor's office

LOCATIONEast Twenties
RENT$2,450 [market]
SQUARE FEET1,000 [one floor of four-story brownstone]
OCCUPANTSMichael Mahle [national manager, media relations, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation]; Danna Marino [director of accessories-fashion designer, Aeropostale]

It's so civilized here, except for the lizards.[Michael]: I have two anoles, the basic Florida pest. [Danna] We have pests as pets. [Michael] Two newts. Two fire-belly toads. Oh, the pleco. [Danna] It's one of those sucker things. It's gross. I don't get too close to the tank. [Michael] I've had the one toad since college.

It must be very dear to you. You just moved here two months ago after a life in New Jersey![Danna] Hawthorne, New Jersey. It was close to our parents. [Michael] Close enough but far enough away. We were both still living at home when we met [in 2000].

Do you love the Indian stores here? Lime chutney, gold almonds. My most recent purchase was cardamom. I used it as a rub for tuna. Danna was out of town. [Danna] Who did you cook for? [Michael] Myself. [Danna] Michael's a fabulous cook. [Michael] I like using wild game. [Danna] Clams casino. [Michael] If the ingredients are right, it always comes out good. That's why I wanted to live near the Greenmarket in Union Square. This time of year, they have great multi-colored carrots. Carrots are originally not orange. [Danna] How do you know this? [Michael] Oh, I read a magazine story.

You have a bust of Frank Lloyd Wright.I'm very big into architecture. I've been designing houses since third grade. I took a test. My guidance counselor said, The good news is you can go into public speaking. The bad news is you can't be an architect. I stuck to my strengths. Eventually I'll build my home. I'll have the last laugh then.

Could I see the drawings of your dream designs?Oh boy. Just 'cause we talked about it, I'll bring it out. [Michael opens a large brown paper portfolio.] I designed a town. I don't have any real set style. I'm not so good at using a ruler.

You wouldn't take on a skyscraper. You have all these spaces called Mystic Meadow, Eagle Chase, Divided Sky, Winding Hollow.A lot of names came from a sub-development in Georgia. You're not going to see an Industrial Way in my town. The purpose of this town is to keep it untouched land. [Danna] It's a utopia.

It's like a New Urbanist development. They believe people shouldn't drive cars and should go on trolleys—so unempowering. You're supposed to say, "Hello, neighbor."[Danna] Everyone in this town owns a Ferrari. [We go out on their tiny back porch.]

It smells like Indian food out here.Sometimes the smell is from Le Petit Auberge.

I looked in—so old-fashioned French.My grandfather used to take my grandmother there. It was their restaurant. They didn't even live in Manhattan. The dry cleaner's over there. [We look at the Chiller-Diller machine, a water recirculating system.] [Michael] We had to go through this interview process to get the apartment. [Danna] The landlord was very proud of his tenants—lawyers, doctors. Our landlord's a doctor. His office is downstairs.

Is it an old-fashioned office—cabinets with swabs and syringes?[Michael] There are hundreds of apothecary jars, an old eye machine.

What kind of doctor is he?General and ah, acupuncture. He's Italian. The apothecary jars looked like they were all empty. [Danna] Evenly spaced. [We think about this as we're drinking Jean Pabiot Pouilly Fumé 1999.] [Michael] My dream in life is to own a cheese-and-wine store. [We say goodbye. I walk out and look in the window of the doctor's office. I call them immediately.]

At the reception desk, there was a man with brown hair talking on the phone and he was nude. Go look.[Michael calls back.] No one was at the desk.

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