Mice and Men


Location Lower East Side

Rent $2,000 (market)

Square feet 1,200 (four-bedroom apartment over store)

Occupants John Christian Huebert (real estate agent); Nathan Azhderian (art student, Cooper Union); Adrian Salonga (assistant media planner, Communications Media Inc.); Fritz Vidanes (intern, Ford Modeling)

What I saw on the way! I passed through Chinatown—mushroom cashews, lavender underwear—then Hester Mendel Goldberg Fabrics with a palmetto print in the window, Gertel’s Bakery, Bialystoker Place where a man was on a bench with his stomach sticking out and he was saying, “Oh, that guy was fired.” Then, the modernist Henrietta Szold School of Nursing and, of course, Rheba Liebowitz Square, and the store on the corner with the bananas. [John] That’s us.

So, everyone’s in their early twenties and sitting upright. Fritz, what a great name you have. [Fritz] I hate my name. It sounds like a butler. I’m from Atlanta. I needed to move because it got really boring and I had to do the New York thing. I moved to New Jersey first. I wasn’t a fan of Jersey. I looked for an apartment for a month. I was stressing. I came here to see this and I had to do it on the spot. [John] Oh, man. [Fritz] There was a girl looking at the same room I was looking at. She wanted to see something else. I said, I want it now. I felt bad. She had just come from Israel. [John] I found it first through our office in Manhattan, Best Apts. We got this weird listing on our computer. We’ve got like 40 agents in a room. Everybody said, 1,200 feet—what’s with this? I went down and showed it to two girls. They said, We’d never live here. It was a real dump. Then my family came up and helped. We just sort of threw on stuff to make the floors more level. We made the market value a lot higher. No, none of us knew each other before. I moved in September 1. [Nathan] I used to share a 12-by-8 room on 14th Street, $525. At the end, it was bad news. I’m from Sonoma County, California. I’m kind of adjusting to the city. [John] I’m from Williamsport, Pennsylvania—Little League World Series. [Fritz] When your mom came here, she was walking around in her T-shirt. [John] “I Got Squished.” She got the T-shirt on Rosie O’Donnell. [Adrian] Fritz said, What’s that?

So. [Adrian] There’s a lot of homicide here. We kill mice and rats. [John] Adrian went all the way up to the Upper East Side. [Adrian] I got traps. Some people here free them.

Who is the humane one? Oh, John, the salesman! How interesting. [Adrian] Oh yeah, there was the Tin Cat, a mousetrap that can fit about eight mice. It electrocutes. You can smell the burning flesh. The guy said, I don’t normally sell that to people because they’d forget. He didn’t realize that I’d check it every morning. [John] We used the dry vac on one of them. Foonnk. [Adrian] It suffocated.

Nice, gray, wraparound leather couch. [John] Yeah, that’s me. All this was bought at bargain prices. We probably look richer than we actually are. [Adrian] He’s a big-time hitter like Donald Trump. [John] The business has its ups and downs. If I work alone, I get a 40 percent cut of the fee. The boss was generous enough not to charge me a fee here. This guy’s got a motorcycle. [Adrian] A Ducati Monster.

Fritz, what are you thinking about right now? [Fritz] Nothing.

Do you have a romantic life, other than the mice? [Adrian] Groan. [Nathan] My girlfriend’s in California. [John] I just got out of a relationship, a couple of days ago.

I bet you always have girlfriends. [John] After I rent to clients, we go and make out in empty apartments. [Adrian] Waive the fee. [John] Increase the fee. [Adrian] This is my room, the boom-boom room. That’s the new Outkast album.

Who are your neighbors? [John] Four girls upstairs. [Adrian] I think they’re socially repressed. [Nathan] You only met one of them. [Adrian] Stop writing. Take away her pen. Fritz is the beating heart of the apartment. [Fritz] Everyone thinks I have a life. But if you knock on my door, I’m sleeping.

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