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Rats ‘n Crackheads by

I’ll never forget the time I was walking home on Suffolk Street in the Lower East Side with my roommate and two men we had just met at a church-turned-bar. It was 4 a.m., prime rat-roaming time, and in true form the little critters could be heard and seen playing connect the dots from trash bag to trashcan all along the block. Roommate and her photographer walked paces ahead, while I meandered behind with my guy who was packing his one-hitter and respectfully attempting to persuade me to toke with him. I wasn’t aware at this point that omens and signs should be taken seriously when you’re a single-ready-to-mingle girl in Manhattan (although I had cautiously begun to wonder if my mother was right in saying nothing good happens after ten o’clock). I also hadn’t concretely formed the opinion yet that a strange man who tries to get you to smoke with him almost immediately upon meeting, while perhaps very attractive, may not be the kind of person you would actually want to see again.

So there we were strolling up to Houston where roomie and homeboy were waiting for us. We happened to be passing under a floodlight when, out of the corner of my eye, I see a darting black flash and before I know it—PLOP!—a warm little body has run into and subsequently bounced off of my black cage stiletto. Simultaneously looking down and shrieking, I see a large rat attempting to get past me to the shelter of the dumpster. Although out of harm’s way, rodentially speaking, I leapt forward with my opposite foot and oh so strategically threw myself into an upturned crowd control barricade. It wasn’t until I got home, at 5 a.m., and after fending off Token’s numerous attempts to kiss me, that I peeled off my opaque black tights and found the huge gash that had been bleeding down my leg and since dried, sticking the tights to my skin. Sitting on my scratched up wood floors, I thought, “Is this what single life is going to be like in Manhattan?”

Short answer: Yes. After inviting Token over to my apartment again a week later—to toke, of all things—I find out he is a former crackhead and listens to heavy metal, specifically Pantera. The Pantera was bad enough, but crack? Really? I couldn’t stop giggling at the man when I realized how ridiculously different the two of us were, how I wasn’t interested in him romantically at all and that I had willingly invited a crackhead—who is now spouting his thoughts on life and liberty without taking a breath—into my home. Lacking all desire to kick a man out of my apartment, I had my roommate do it for me. Not under the influence or afraid to make things uncomfortable, she has no problem with this.

But the icing on the cake came the next morning when I received a text from Token, saying, “Sorry for being weird last night. You are going to be a hot piece of ass one day. Nice knowing you.” Gee, thanks. You are going to be a crackhead again one day, metalbrain.

Yes. This is dating in New York. Rats, dried blood and undercover crackheads.

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