Over the course of two years living in Brooklyn, I moved six times, including a failed attempt at cohabitation with my then boyfriend in what turned out to be an illegal sublet.
The first thing I did when I moved into my second place, located in the West Indian section of Crown Heights was buy a queen sized bed frame and mattress. The $500 frame which came with a “free mattress” was by all assessments a piece of shit. Despite it's being very heavy and all hardwood, the center supports were flimsy and not really supportive. It had to be taken apart and put back together every time I moved; a task that would often take hours and one that my then boyfriend was loath to assist me with. At one point, the bed collapsed under, um, vigorous activity. Like Jesus Christ dragging the cross on his back, I too had drag the frame, alone and angry out onto my back patio for a full day of repairs.
By the time I was moving into my current apartment, I was totally done with it. I brought it along but didn't bother to reconstruct it. I just wanted out. I was resigned and even relieved to sleep with my equally crappy mattress on the floor. It was what all the cool kids were doing anyway.
So, soon after the move, I did what any entrepreneurial New Yorker does; rather than relegating the bed to the trash heap for any would be takers, I posted an ad on Craigslist. For $250, including free, local, Brooklyn-only delivery, the new owner was getting a real bargain. Or so I thought.
I received numerous emails including one from a doctor who wanted to pay $200 and have the bed delivered to Suffolk County on Long Island. He found my response of "are you joking?" less than acceptable and proceeded to call me a bitch with a shitty attitude. "Maybe if I offered you $50 more you'd be willing to get off your lazy ass and drive out to Long Island on a Saturday?" he said. I can't blame him for haggling per se - it's one of my favorite past times. But this was just too much. I should have dropped it right there. Instead, I wrote back, explaining the well-publicized increase in gas prices, historic traffic issues on the Long Island Expressway, and the simple fact that he clearly never learned to read.
Frustrated, I reposted a revised ad in concise, short bullet pointed sentences stating the price as firm and no deliveries outside of Brooklyn. An hour later I got a call from a pleasant sounding West Indian woman (I'll call her Ms. X) who was willing to pay the listed amount and asked that it be delivered to an apartment in Bed-Stuy. We agreed upon a time frame, and I got off the phone feeling that not all hope was lost for humanity.
On the way to drop it off, I called to let her know that we were twenty minutes away. Ms. X had bad news for us. She was stranded with her friend in Harlem. Their car had broken down, and she was not going to make it back anytime soon. For anyone who has ever waited for a delivery or the cable company to service their TV, you understand this defies all logic. You don’t go to Harlem if you're expecting a delivery, even if you have to wait all day!
So I proceeded to calmly explain to Ms. X that we would have to leave the bed on the curb by the apartment. I only had the truck for the day and I had absolutely no intention of returning home with this god-forsaken bed. If it was there upon her return, great! She would be the proud new owner of a shitty free bedframe. If it wasn't there upon her return, then one of her more fortunate neighbors probably would be. She begged me not to dump it on the curb. I repeatedly told her that she left me with no other option and hung up the phone, convinced that the bed was cursed and I would never be rid of it.»
Photo by Happi Gal
Moments later I spotted a rather grungy looking antique furniture store on Tompkins Ave. I told my roommate to pull over and let me see what I could do. I ran over to speak with the shop keeper who was conversing with a friend outside the store. It was starting to rain. I was sweating, tired, and ready to go home and just use the bed for a bonfire.
The words started pouring out of me. I explained to the shopkeeper what had happened-- how I was expecting to deliver this bed to Ms. X but she decided to go out and get stuck in Harlem and then begged me not to throw the bed out in the garbage. And how now I had to get rid of the bed or else we wouldn't have any room in the truck for the rest of the furniture we were planning to buy. He listened to all this and laughed. He asked if it was antique. I said no, but it has a "retro, art deco feel to it."
'Okay," he said, "let's take a look."
We walked over to the back of the truck and opened the door. The shop keeper popped his head in and without further deliberation said he knew someone who might be interested. He would give them a call.
While inside, now soaked from both the rain and sweat and cold from the rain and sweat and air conditioning, I spotted among the accumulation of dusty, broken down detritus, a boho style shearling coat hanging from the wall. The shopkeeper hung up the phone. The prospect could not be reached. I said, "My mother used to have a coat just like that in the 70s. Could I try it on?"
"Tell you what," said the shopkeeper. "You bring in the bed and I'll give you the coat. Deal?" I figured a coat was way easier to transport back than a hundred pounds of varnished, dead tree. Maybe, if I was lucky, I could sell it and make back something for all this aggravation.
Two months later, I tried to sell the coat, along with some other winter items to a well-known thrift store only to be told my stuff wasn’t "in style" so they weren't interested. I was now convinced the coat was just as cursed as the bed had been. Maybe the bed had transferred its cosmic revenge onto the coat? Maybe I was being punished for trying to make a profit off of what are, and of right should be the discarded refuse of modern city life?
Lugging the garbage bag of garments back toward the subway, a homeless man asked me for some change. It was early September and already dark out. I knew that any day now it would be getting cold. I only had women's clothes, so I asked him if he had any female friends who hang out around there. Perhaps they could use a pimpin’ new coat and he could use a date? He peeked inside the bag and said, "Yeah, I know this one lady. She’s around here a lot. I wish you had something for guys though. I'll give 'em to her." He then blessed me, and I blessed him back. Superstitions aside, I wanted to believe I did a good deed. Really though, all I felt was a sense of relief. I finally did what I should have done all along which was to give it all away.
Liz Farkas currently performs due diligence research for a white-collar private investigation firm in New York. She has previously contributed to Wonkette and lives in Brooklyn, of course.