It is no secret that my biceps and triceps are floppier than spaghetti, barely able to hoist an unabridged dictionary above my head.
Nonetheless, my muscle definition was no concern to my friend Matt, a first-rate cheapskate requesting the ultimate in unpaid labor:
“Can you help me move this weekend?” Matt and his girlfriend, Emily, were taking the leap to cohabitation, commingling their possessions and their cats.Two humans, three felines, 400 square feet—that’s a recipe for a sitcom.
I flexed, demonstrating the imperceptible twitch that passes for my puny guns.
“Perfect,” he said. “We’ll pick you up at 10 a.m. on Saturday.”
“How did I just say yes?” “Josh,” Matt said, “I will buy you beer and a burrito.”
“You better make mine with guacamole,” I sighed, resignedly.
New Yorkers are a transient tribe, relocating with the regularity of migratory birds. Not me. I despise moving like I do raw, squishy tomatoes on my burger. I’ve dwelled in a brownstone-Brooklyn apartment for seven years, surviving a succession of psychotic roommates (a category that, I’m sure, includes me) until I became leaseholder.Then in came the girlfriend. Since, everything’s been peaches and cream, provided she stops leaving her dirty coffee spoon on the kitchen counter.
But I digress, which is what I do best. Unlike moving. Bright and early on Saturday, my head fogged due to the previous eve’s tango with rich and luscious Eagle Rare bourbon, Emily drove me to Matt’s Bushwick apartment. It was an ancient industrial building, the sort that seems edgy when you’re 22.
By 30, the luster has dulled on living in a cold, drafty loft with bedrooms separated by particleboard and bands practicing long past bedtime.
I greeted my fellow laborers and began hoofing boxes of books into a freight elevator, along with crates filled with hundreds of CDs. “Who even has CDs anymore?” I moaned. “Stop complaining,” Matt said. “I could’ve hired any of 20 Mexican guys that were waiting around the U-Haul lot.”
“Instead, you’re going to pay your friends in burritos.”
“You’re moving the bookcase.” Matt gestured to a towering structure as wobbly as Jell-O.
“Quiero mi burrito con mucho guacamole,” I said, dusting off my culturally insensitive high school Spanish.
The hours passed in a back-straining blur. After Emily made some judicious judgments (“We are not bringing that massive marble table,” she proclaimed, saving me from a gut-splitting hernia), the U-Haul was filled.Team Moving traveled to Emily’s apartment at the southern fringes of Park Slope, right near a power plant and Greenwood Cemetery. Energized death—that was a nice description of my physical state.
Team Moving commenced shuttling boxes and boxy furniture up the narrow stairs, gouging out chunks of drywall like a golfer does grass. “Careful!” Matt said. “I just painted those walls.”
“Perhaps you should’ve hired real movers,” I replied. I never miss a chance to make someone feel bad for requesting my help.
Finally, the truck was as empty as my growling stomach. I secured a perch amid the chaos (a desk blocking the bathroom, boxes of books that’ll never be read and underwear-stuffed drawers stacked to the ceiling) and snatched the plastic bags containing my reward: a growler of Captain Lawrence’s Freshchester Ale from Grab (438 7th Ave. betw. 14th & 15th Sts., 718- 369-7595; B’klyn) and overstuffed, California-style burritos from Taqueria D.F. (709 5th Ave. at 22nd St., B’klyn; 718-499-2969).
I bit into a folded flour tortilla, bursting with tender spicy pork, chubby pinto beans and half-dollar dollops of sour cream. I set a land-speed record in consuming my fat, fatty burrito, finding it uncommonly satisfying. While hunger is doubtlessly the best sauce, the spicy salsa verde was pretty tasty to boot.
I poured a second hop-tinged beer, which soothed my creaky muscles and hurtled me toward dreamland. I took the bus home, took a nap, then took the bus to Matt’s old apartment for his house-cooling bash. “Whiskey for you, buddy!” Matt shouted when I walked inside.
“A double, please,” I replied, sitting at the kitchen table. Matt poured me several fingers of amber liquid. I looked at the dusty bottle, recognizing it from the lower reaches of liquor-store shelving. Where was his Bulleit bourbon, much less Buffalo Trace?
“We moved the good stuff, didn’t we?” I said, sipping the fiery, burning fluid.
“Just shut up and drink,” Matt said, exasperated. “I’m never asking you to help me move again.”