Railroad Apartment Over Bicycle Shop


Location Park Slope

Rent $1450 (market)

Square feet 840

Occupant Christina Davis (owner, trimNYC fashion showroom)

It’s such a soft, warm summer afternoon. I had this longing for watermelon and pineapple, and fortunately you live across from a big, sparkling grocery store. So here it is, though I already had two of the peaches on the way up. The radio’s on in your kitchen. Radios on summer days always sound like they’re in the blue sky, talking in the air: “How’s the traffic out there? It’s going to be a hot one gearing up for the game tonight.” Whatever game—there’s always a game. I have a radio in every room. I’m a huge Mets fan. I was a Yankee fan, at the time when Ricky Henderson and Dave Winfield played. That’s going to date me. I’m so young, 26.

Do you sit and watch the radio the way people used to? No, I try to read one book a week, but they’re mysteries. It’s a huge escape for me. Owning my own business is really stressful. Before the showroom, I was the director of Sara Meltzer Gallery and worked Sundays in the flea market on Broadway and Grand—two years, rain or shine, 16 hours a day. I’ve been in this apartment a year. It’s not my dream apartment but I couldn’t love this neighborhood more—the laundromat, the cat clinic.

Why are all the buildings blue? My landlord paints them. I don’t know why. He’s Mr. Cabbad—Mr. Personality. He sits in his store across the street. He has photos of himself and politicians, Christmas cards from the Bushes. I love him. You go in. He always says,”What apartment are you in?” I can’t imagine how old he is, 70 at least. I got the apartment from these stupid brokers. They were totally inept. One was on a mountain bike. The other guy, we just took buses. They were so young and inexperienced. They barely tried to sell me the place because they thought I wouldn’t bite at the price. This is my thermos collection. I have a group in each room. A few years ago, I wanted something desperately to collect, to hold on to. I don’t know why. The orange and yellow are in the kitchen; the bathroom has blue. No one ever appreciates the designs behind them. Thermoses are under-recognized.

I was thinking about the men who took the thermoses to work. That silver one—a steelworker. He would have bologna sandwiches. To me, thermoses mean fishing with my father. We used to go fishing for—I don’t even know what we went fishing for. Maybe bass. I’m from Schenectady. I’m an only child. My dad’s 47. He graduated college when I was nine—the happiest day of my life. My parents met in the print room at General Electric, where he works. My mother used to work in a lunchroom. For my father’s birthday, I got them a room at the W Union Square, then I took them to Peter Luger’s for dinner.

Will you always live alone? Probably. I have my cats, Dottie and P-nut. I’m a cat lady. And I didn’t run out to find a boyfriend when 9-11 happened. I worked harder on my company. I see myself in this apartment for a while. Nothing’s going to be cheaper.

[We discuss terrorist warnings—this was one of the nervous weeks of “Will I disappear in the epicenter or just languish in a nuclear winter, crawling on the sidewalk with radiation sores and two shoes that don’t match?”] Warnings like that don’t even hit my radar screen. I’m just too busy working. I’m a trained boxer. Someday I’m going to fight Ali’s daughter. I’m going to take her down.

I’m going to visit Mr. Cabbad now. Goodbye. [I called her later: “So he was sitting in a chair in an aisle of his store with the Hawaiian shirts, socks, and brassieres, and he said the reason he paints the buildings blue is to ‘keep the bad eye away.’ He’s been there 40 years, has 40 tenants. He’s from Syria and he’s the founder of the Arab American Parade Committee. When I asked him if he was scared because of recent international events, he said, ‘Nah, I’m a tough guy. That CIA, they should have grabbed those guys by the @&**#! There’s a saying in Arabic: Don’t talk too loud, the walls have ears.’ “]

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