It was September in Manhattan – actually, it was September everywhere – but also in Manhattan – terrible weather: one day it was dog days hot, the next day heavy rains flooded the city, sweltering heat was everywhere.
|This is not what the air conditioner looked like after my little mishap.
(Photo: Ildar Sagdejev (Specious), 2008-07-11 Air conditioners at UNC-CH, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Rooms in New York are expensive, so I was very happy to have found this little guest house in Harlem where I moved to the smallest room right under the roof.
As always, I spent my days mostly visiting museums and galleries, one evening I got a ticket for the Amateur Night at legendary Apollo only two subway stations from my guest house.
Yolly, one of the South American ladies, explained to me very precisely how to open the locked door when I came back at night; due to the weather the old wood was warped and it was a bit tricky to turn the key in the lock.
Before I left I asked Yolly whether it would be possible to open the window in my room. There was an air conditioner stuck in the lower part of the typical American sash window, but it felt that it was just stirring the same sticky hot air for days now. Yes, no problem, after she made my room, she would open it.
|Fallout or falling out?! Seeing this sign two blocks down – why did I insist on opening the window?|
So I spent the day downtown, went to the Amateur Night to see a couple of very talented young people and a not so talented blond bimbo from ‘sunny Florida’ as she claimed when asked where she was from.
Once the amateurs were done – one cheering for having won the first prize, the rest of them frowning over drinks in plastic cups – there came the pro, and that was none other than Mr. Freddie Jackson – initially my main reason for coming to this place. But man, what went wrong with this one?! His singing was still ok, but when talking he had a really bizarre way wrapping himself like a snake around the microphone, babbling nonsense in a slightly shrieky voice – get yourself together, man!
As the show was over, I took the A train to 136th street. After wiggling the key a bit in the lock, I managed to unlock the front door just fine and climbed up into my den.
The first thing I realized there was the stuffy air. Damn you, Yolanda, why didn’t you open the bloody window? I went to the sash window and tried to push it more open to get some air. It moved a teeny tiny bit but was really tough.
Hm, maybe it would be easier to pull instead of pushing?!
There was an old lazy chair next to the window. I took off my shoes and climbed on it. Wobbly…but yes, pulling from this elevated position was a piece of cake. I’d pulled the window a couple of inches when I noticed that the air conditioner tilted very slowly towards….definitely the wrong side. I immediately had an idea what would happen next and that it would happen pretty fast. But I had no chance: the thing was far too heavy to hold it back – it was already so far bent outside the window that I probably would have followed it in my attempt to catch it. And standing on the wobbly upholstery with the air conditioner at knee height didn’t help either. So in my last desperate struggle to avoid the unavoidable I grabbed the cable…useless to say that this was useless. Two seconds later the air conditioner had made its way three storeys down and crashed with a hellish shattering noise on the verandah.
And then the night was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop.
I was standing there paralyzed thinking of what I just dropped. Terrified I looked out of the window: There was a sad pile of plastic parts and wires and things…right on the spot where in the morning the Japanese tourist had enjoyed his after-breakfast cigarette. Oh my frigging God – I could have killed someone with that bloody thing! How can they just stuck a large appliance in a window and not fix it with let’s say fifty bolts? Especially when they have guests from all over the world coming.
My heart was beating so fast and my brain was working even faster – what was I supposed to do? What was I supposed to say? Shaking and thinking and thinking and shaking I put on my pajamas and lay on the bed.
What will I tell them tomorrow?
Pondering this question I fell asleep – in the pleasantly fresh and cool air coming through the open window.