A Very Special Day

You probably didn’t know this but today is a special anniversary in the life of Be the Boy, actually I didn’t know it either until I was writing a check for the rent this morning and realized that it’s July 1. For those of you who don’t have the official calendar of this blog, the one with all of my important dates listed in it, I’ll explain.

Here at Be the Boy, July 1 is Crappy House Day, where you remember the worst place you ever lived or stayed at but still managed to love.

It all started on this date in 1983; 25 years ago…my mother packed my brother, my sister and me into the car and drove us to Copiague, the town on Long Island where I’d spend most of the next 15 years. Of course, she wasn’t just driving us through Copiague, we were moving there and we were excited (probably the last to ever be excited to move into the town) because after several years of basement apartments we were going to live in an actual house…one that you could see daylight from. How could my single mother who cut hair by day and went to school at night afford such luxuries? Well that was the thing…it had some flaws. Things like:

  1. It was almost directly under the train tracks.
  2. Instead of grass there was a half acre of dirt, weeds and car parts
  3. The house next door had recently been gutted by fire
  4. The previous tenants of our new home had painted the interior dark purple

We didn’t let these things dampen our enthusiasm though. After all, we were going to have multiple bedrooms rooms and did I mention there was daylight? When you don’t have much, a little goes a long way.

When we pulled up to that house on July 1, 1983 I was nine years old. I didn’t know on that day that it I was moving into a place that would profoundly affect me and shape who I grew up to be and I had no idea that by the time we left that place, four years later, our world would be changed. On that day I was just happy to have a Capri Sun and a place to play. The sun had come up and we were doing fine.

For the record, many of the Greatest Be the Boy Hits took place in this house including the infamous paper cup story.

Happy Crappy House Day, everyone!  If you’ve ever loved a less than spectacular place I’d love to hear about it.



Filed under General Tomfoolery

32 responses to “A Very Special Day

  1. melissa

    The first place I lived in that wasn’t with my parents or roommates was a one bedroom apartment. It was, first of all, furnished. Eughh. Never let bare skin touch the couch.

    The curtains in the bedroom had an unknown stain on them leading me to conclude a murder had taken place there, and the whole place was crooked because the kitchen cabinets on the right side of the kitchen wouldn’t close, they just leaned open.

    It was the best place I ever lived. I had so much hope when I moved in.


  2. Jim

    I lived in an apartment on a noisy, accident-prone corner of Fresno, CA for a couple of years. It was a front room, kitchen, bathroom, big bedroom & tiny bedroom. And the bedroom was not only adjacent to the kitchen, it was a converted patio and you had to walk through it to get to the bathroom, so when I moved my brother into the tiny bedroom (long story), my girlfriend at the time wasn’t so happy.

    Yet I still kinda loved it. It was close to all of my bars, so I could walk everywhere, and the front room was big enough so that my band could practice there.

    So the front room had a TV, a couch, a coffee table, a drum kit, two guitar amps, a bass amp and a couple of mic stands. And because it was a noisy corner in a boho neighborhood, we practiced until 10:00 two or three nights a week for a year & half and the police never showed up once.

    It was awesome.

  3. There was a point in my adult life that I needed to get out of my living situation quickly so I found a “bachelor” apt. It was one room & bathroom. No kitchen. People thought I was crazy but I lived there for almost 2 years. It was my first little box that I could call my own and allow my independence to flourish. It was awesome!!!

  4. My Crappy House Day takes place in March of 1985. My dad was in the Navy and we were moving from San Diego and the house I grew up in to North Chicago. Great Lakes Naval Training Center to be exact. The house wasn’t even really a house. It was a mobile home. It was far from the luxuries of our large San Diego home, where the sun seemed to be always smiling to a dreary military complex in Illinois. But my home in San Diego was also the place where I saw my brother hit by car across from the house where I played. Those three years I spent away from San Diego — we eventually moved back after his training assignment — I learned to deal with my loss of my brother and grow closer to the one I had left.

  5. betheboy

    Melissa, Jim, Sarah – I don’t know why it is but those dive are some of the most fun ones.

    Darlene – Thanks for playing along and for sharing. I’m glad that the time spent in a dreary place helped you through a difficult time. I’m glad you make it back to So Cal. too.

  6. The first apartment I had in college was in a great location – right across the street from campus and the Student Union. I didn’t have a car so I needed to walk to school. It was a 2 bed/2 bath townhouse.

    The building was covered by oak trees, which always get an infestation of spiny caterpillars in late spring/early summer. The owner said that he didn’t have the money for exterminating them, so we had to avoid touching anything when outside, and preventing those things from getting in the house.

    The apartment hadn’t been renovated since 1973, and still contained the same yellow stove that was covered with assorted spots and black soot. The AC broke about two weeks after I moved in and they didn’t fix it for over a month (this was in Louisiana – in July – UGH). The carpet was orange shag and had some dark unknown stains in the corner of the downstairs bedroom. And the neighbors had a habit of bumping uglies about 3 in the morning VERY loudly (but that might have bugged me more back then because I was single). The landlord spoke almost no English, and would yell at me in some unknown language if I brought the money in after the 1st (although the lease said I had from the 1st to the 5th without a penalty).

    All for the luxurious price of $300 a month.

  7. betheboy

    I’m wondering if my wife will list our current place as her Crappy House on the Prairie?

  8. Aw, c’mon, don’t call me out.

    I’ll say this: I love our home but I dislike our house.

  9. betheboy

    Slackmistress – C’mon the crazy house is fun. Someday we will laugh about the neighbors, the plumbing and the heat.

  10. our place in madrid was incredibly tiny, so much so that my brother’s bedroom doubled as the dining room. the kitchen could only fit one person and my bedroom held my bed and a dresser. i could barely walk anywhere in it and i was 9 years old and tiny. we lived near the communist headquarters in the city, and were too poor to do much but eat day old bread.
    still, it was great fun. and a real adventure.

  11. I was talking more about the lack of A/C, the lack of fresh air as the windows aren’t conducive to opening, the fact that dust multiplies exponentially, the toilet that can never seem to get clean, the tiny shower, the lack of outlets, the tiny fridge and the scary stove and the countertops that peel upwards, and the fact that it’s always ten degrees hotter in here.

    But it’s cheap.

  12. Kymmi

    Oh boy, where to start? I’ll pick my favorite.

    The house I lived in during college that I shared with FIVE sorority girls (note, I was not a member) and ONE bathroom. Do the math there. It was a 2 bedroom house that was connected to a church. And down the street from a home for the mentally impaired. One that couldn’t keep track of their patients, so they would peep into our windows. Good times!

    2nd –

  13. betheboy

    Kymmi – that sounds like the greatest apartment ever, for special care patients at least.

  14. Let’s see… There was the cute two-bedroom house w/the roommate who dropped acid at least twice a week. The best part about that place was the Dead Head who decided my b/f and I needed a break from said roommate, and he needed a place to crash, since he never knew who he’d find sleeping in his bed at the tiny apartment he shared with two other Dead Heads, so he started having sex with the roommate, to get himself a bed and us some peace.

    The tiny apartment in an old hotel (which I loved), which had no insulation, so the windows iced up in the winter and my aloe vera froze to death. Bonus – one outlet was wired into the house electricity, instead of my meter, so I could run a space heater 24/7 and not pay the bill. (Being a good citizen, though, even when completely broke, I did plug in the heater and a few other things, turn them all on, then go check the meters in the hall to make sure it wasn’t my neighbor’s electric I was tapping into.) This was the same place I kept locking myself out of (being a hotel, the doors locked when you closed them), so the manager finally put a paint scraper on top of the meter box for me, and showed me how to break into my own apartment with it.

    And then the tiny apartment downstairs from an obese family of eight and their even-more obese Shar-pei. As best I could tell, they slept in shifts. At least one of them was always up and walking around, often with the fat little dog trotting behind them. (Thud-thud-thud, scurry-scurry-scurry, thud.)

  15. I lived in Ocean City, MD for three months on a student summer work visa thingee. There were six of us (thirteen by summer’s end) sharing a two-bed, one bath ground floor apartment which we had to SCRUB clean on moving in. Even post-cleaning the place was riddled with bugs (roaches, midgies, ant-type-things), and our upstairs neighbours were prone to puking over their balcony after a few too many and letting their loo overflow and drip through our kitchen ceiling.

    Good times.

  16. The worst placed I ever lived was with my dad right after my parents seperated. I was six so that must have been 1990/1991ish. It was in a shitty suburb of Dallas called Garland and it was the first *house* I ever lived in. It had a huge backyard but we weren’t allowed to go outside at night because there were scary people everywhere. I also once woke up with a dead cricket in my mouth. IN MY MOUTH.

    But we had a Nintendo 64.

  17. betheboy

    Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, cricket in the mouth.

  18. And not just any cricket – a DEAD cricket. *shudder*

  19. My crappy house was my parents’ first venture into non-apt living. I lived there from ages 2-7. For one, the “Master Bedroom” was a back porch that they had simply added windows to. Cement floor and cinder block walls!! My parents used it as the laundry room. All the doors were unfinished particle board, roughly cut, not even close to straight. My bedroom had 2 doors leading to the same hallway and widows which saw into other rooms of the house. We had crackheads living next door and my dad said when he’d take me out in my stroller he could see the crackpipe glow in the windows. They also came by our house once in the middle of the night and nearly threatened my dad’s life if he didn’t give them $20 for “food for his kid”/drugs. I loved it though. *shrug*

  20. I grew up in a double wide trailer with my mom and sister, while my dad, two half sisters and half brother lived in a mini-mansion, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. The bathroom my sister and I shared had seriously sticky wallpaper, I mean seriously sticky, over the years all the dead bugs accumulating gave it an interesting grainy texure, but when you’re a kid you don’t seem to care too much. In the summer we would strip down to our underwear and attach ourselves to the sticky walls and peel ourselves off over and over again. Good times!

  21. betheboy

    Doni – The stick paper reminds me of the time my mom put up wallpaper with toothpaste. Needless to say it did not stay up and we got cavities.

  22. When I was four we lived in a one bedroom log cabin in western Montana. There was a loft we could sleep in during the summer, which kind of made it into a two room cabin, but it was too cold to be up there during the winter.

    Some memories from that house:

    – The handle on the front door was made out of a deer antler.

    – There was no running water in the bathroom. It seemed like that’s the way it always was, but I just recently found out that was only for the first week we lived there.

    – Coyote tracks in the snow on the front porch.

    – My dad “insulating” the house one winter (one of the coldest on record at that time) by spraying the north wall with water to make a sheet of ice an inch or two thick.

    – My dad deciding one day to burn the Christmas tree that had been sitting in the fireplace for a while. Mice came running out, and my dad shooed them all back into the fire with a broom.

    – I tried to put my boots on one morning and wasn’t able to get my foot in. My mom told me to check for dirty socks in the toe, so I reached in and pulled out a dead mouse.

    I could go on, but I won’t. That place was cool.

  23. I’ve lived in so many cool/crappy places it’s hard to decide which is the best/worst. One of the most memorable is probably the first place I lived when I moved back from CA. I stayed with my mom for a few weeks until I could find a place (and until my stuff got here from the movers). And let me tell you, staying more than a few days with my mom is a strong motivator to take whatever you can get. I found a small apartment that wasn’t much more than a studio. It used to be an office for a limo company until they moved to the larger 1/3 of the building that used to be an apartment.

    There was a tiny kitchen, tiny bathroom, a living room, but the coolest part for me was the bedroom loft. I’d always wanted a bedroom loft and didn’t think the less than 4 ft ceilings would be a problem. At least I didn’t have to buy a whole bed, just a mattress. Plus the floor was raised about a foot where the mattress went, which meant you could sit up in bed and that’s about it. That made for some interesting times. You had to climb a ladder to get to the bedroom and I only fell off once!

    My landlord lived in the back 1/3 of the building and had a couple of noisy step-kids. Their apartment was separated by mine by only a thin door off my kitchen. At least I didn’t have to worry about being noisy. Even with my home theatre system cranked up, they still couldn’t hear me over the kids.

    Not long after I moved in I started noticing mouse poo under the kitchen sink and asked my landlord if they had problems with mice and he said they had seen a ground squirrel once but that was it. I started setting out traps and proceeded to catch 23 mice within 6 weeks. Seriously, how can you not notice that?

    I had 3 windows in the entire apartment and the only one that opened was the one with a window A/C unit which was tilted wrong and the water ran back into the apartment until I fixed it myself. I worked at home about 12 hours a day and this was the only place where I had enough room to put my computer so I could freeze because I was sitting 3 inches from the A/C, or swelter because I couldn’t open any windows. On the bright side, it was quite cold in the winter since there was only a tiny gas heater (the kind you sometimes find in the bathrooms of older houses).

    Since my apartment had recently been a place of business I often had people just walk in off the street. Even after I put a sign up. Thankfully, for everyone, I was only naked the first couple of times this happened.

  24. betheboy

    Penny – That place sounds awful.

  25. I think I’m currently living in my favorite crappy house. Let me explain…

    My house was orginally some where else. Our town had an oil leak that forced like 90% of the towns buildings to be moved. Our house was dug up and moved up the hill to another piece of property with about seven other little bungalows.

    Now the best parts about it are: its a house, not an apartment, I can have pets, I can walk to the bar and I can walk to the beach.

    The bad parts? We have termites. Said house isn’t insulated for shit. We have raccoons. Both the front and back door are made out of some kind of glass that is now illegal to sell so if you break a panel (like the previous tennets did often) you have to go lie to a glass maker about what you want a piece of glass that size for. Also only two or three windows in the house can be opened because all of my screens are damaged and the cat might get out. The landlord won’t fix them. We fixed our own screen doors just to be able to breathe when it gets hot.

    my neighbors cats shit in my yard and walk on my car. the bathroom sink leaks and won’t turn off every other time you use it. there isn’t even laundry available without driving 5 or 6 miles away. in the summer time tourists try to park in my driveway which btw is just a big dirt hole anyway and more than one time a random drunk has fallen asleep in our yard.

    I wouldn’t trade it for anything though, its me and the boyfriend’s first home together and we’re happy there.

  26. Barbara

    Well, I had to do it. I Googled “paper cup vagina”, and you’ll be proud to know that almost 4 years later, you still are the number one search for those words. You should be so proud!

  27. i’ve been thinking about this for days and unable to put anything together due to having lived in many shitty places.

    one place was in a flood zone and i experienced two floods there. (it was a known flood zone and i still moved there b/c it was all i could afford.) i was smarter in that i got a 2nd story apartment. my car was in danger, luckily my neighbors woke me up in time to not have my car flooded.

    then i had a few of those places in which roaches ran the joint, therefore unable to ever completely rid myself of them.

  28. TheotherWill

    I think I might of lived in the basement of that same house once I was on my own.
    Same town,I lived in this basement in a crappy house literally right under the tracks.
    No heat except for my dog and a space heater.
    But the old man let my dog stay there so thats where home was,until I finally got in on a house.

    All the stories BetheBoy says about Copiague is true and then some :)

  29. betheboy

    For those of you keeping score at home, TheOtherWill and I were friends growing up. As the kids say we were totally BFF as teens. We had fun and got in trouble and through sheer luck never set ourselves on fire. He’s a good man, and I’m honored to have him chime in here.

  30. Ooh, i’m a few days late on this one, but it made me think about the house I used to live in that had no kitchen, just a sink in the corner and a dresser to keep the plates in. It had a fabulous freestanding bath that had just about none of its enamel left, and used to spill water EVERYWHERE. And then there was the bedroom, that had a very strange smell of fish hidden in the wall by my bed and a window that wouldn’t close, which considering the smell, wasn’t a problem.

    So I stayed there 3 months before claiming someone had died and I had to end my tenancy earlier to move away…

  31. My crappy house was a one bedroom log cabin in Montana. We lived there for a year when I was four. While there, our family dog was attacked by a pack of wild coyotes, shot by a rancher who thought he was a fox, and run over multiple times, but lived through it all. We had no indoor plumbing at first, so had to use an outhouse, but fortunately not during the winter. One night my brother found a mouse drowning in the toilet once the plumbing was fixed. Also, my dad lit a fire in the fireplace one night, a whole bunch of mice came running out, and he shooed them back into the fire. Good times.

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