When I first moved to New York, I lived in a four-story brownstone in Brooklyn—with five other people. Now when I told most people this, their faces curled up in horror and bewilderment—“How can you live in a house with all those people?”
“It’s not that bad,” I’d say. “It’s four stories, it’s big, you only share a floor/bathroom with one other person. And everyone is respectful of everyone else, and we really all get along.”
Now, I knew Frenchie was going to be trouble from the get-go. Our House Manager had just broken up with her boyfriend, who she’d been having a torrid back-and-forth with for a while, and when we were looking for a new roomie, and Frenchie showed up—who looked almost exactly like her recent ex—I knew he was moving in. I mean, it’s pretty fucked up to move someone into your house who looks exactly like your ex. And yeah, I’ve gone out with dudes just cause they looked like exes, but I wouldn’t fucking move one into my house.
Sure enough, within a week, Frenchie and her were smooching in the hallway, and I was thinking, this is not going to turn out good. For anyone.
Frenchie also happened to be a DJ/freelance set constructor/life coach. Arrogant and condescending, he’d listen to his shitty music at full volume, coat himself in some oily Eurotrash version of Axe and then disappear into the Village, only to bring some unsuspecting NYU student home for some banging. He’d also complain to the rest of us about the state of … Us. What ignorant, dumbass Americans we were. He was also cheap, which is never an attractive quality. During the summer, he bitched about the AC. “Don’t even think I’m paying extra money for that,” he scoffed. He’d look at our dishwasher and do the same. Then he’d refuse to buy toilet paper.
Then one night, he crossed the line. He asked me about bringing his Landmark Forum project folk into our house for a meeting. Now Landmark is one of those life-improvement pyramid schemes in which they convince weak-minded people to pay big money to, you know, snag that mate, score that real estate deal or start their own business through the power of positive thinking. Essentially, it’s The Secret, but you sit around with other people discussing The Secret and how only you are empowered with The Secret. “It’s just really changed my life and my outlook,” he told me. “Thinking positively will really change your life.”
There are not many things more annoying in this world than someone who actually enjoys listening and playing house music preach to you about empowering your life on a Friday at 7 p.m. when all you want to do is eat your big salad and watch “Scott Baio is 45 … and Single” in peace. But, as you are trying to foster a peaceful—in other words, “I know I gotta suck it up and put up with other people’s annoying bullshit” to live in New York, you have to sit there and nod and pretend that you’re really interested in this scam even though you have a real job and health insurance and are actually self-empowering yourself through $150-an hour psychotherapy, like normal, fucked-up people.
Then he asked if I made any extra salad for him. I ignored him and went back to Scott Baio.
Not surprisingly, about a month later, during the final financial boom times of New York in 2007, our landlord figured out that he could boot us and rent our pad for nearly twice as much. So he did. This is not uncommon in New York. Most people I’ve ran into have a similar yarn to spin—getting kicked out due to a 40 to 50 percent rent increase. But Frenchie sidled into our landlord, convinced him to let him take over managing our house so that he could live rent free. And lied to the rest of us about it as we scrambled to find new places to live.
The last night in the house, when all our garbage and shit was lying in the street for the trucks, I heard that motherfucker come home from DJing at 4 a.m. and start hauling that busted up furniture back into our house.
And that’s it. We all moved out. I only saw him once in the neighborhood after that, and he looked as smarmy as ever–if herpes had a look, he’d be it. But I do know this—be wary of anyone who starts preaching that life-improvement crap to you because they are probably one of the biggest lying dickbags you will ever run into.