Some people get excited about a new Whole Foods opening down the street, or a shiny Equinox on the corner. A Sweetgreen or a hot nightclub.
They can have ’em. Because I’m positively wild about the rats.
Yes, millions of rats are pouring into my neighborhood like deal hunters on Black Friday at the Secaucus Target, and I’m holding the “Welcome” sign.
Think of me as the Pied Piper of the East Village — only my flute is leading the little scamps toward the neighborhood, not away from it. Why on Earth would I herald a stampede of diseased giant rodents?
Cold, hard cash.
Six months ago, like so many morons, I took advantage of plummeting pandemic rent prices and relocated to a ritzier nabe in downtown Manhattan. Pierogi at Veselka, shows at the Public Theater, comics at Club Cumming — all within walking distance for a steal. (Note: A New York “steal” is an Everywhere Else insult.)
And it’s not like the city would rebound anytime soon, right? You had to quarantine for two weeks if you flew here from Orlando, sitting in Starbucks was illegal, people were jogging in August with seven masks on and, um, Gov. Cuomo. I surely had at least five years of reduced costs in this limping metropolis.
Then on one horrible October morning, I read in The Post that, gulp, residents have returned in droves! Landlords are jacking up rents to more than they were in 2019! Schmucks are packing up their stuff as quickly as they unpacked it and are hitchhiking to Yonkers. Waiting for my lease renewal every day, I open my mailbox like there’s a bomb inside it. Lesson learned: You’ll always lose when you bet against New York.
Enter the rats.
Ratmania, the media says, is a calamitous result of both those ugly outdoor restaurant sheds covering our narrow streets that give the scallywags ample crumbs and shelter and the rapid restart of construction that’s opening up their underground homes. Food scraps and rubble make for vermin heaven.
Walking on a sidewalk down here after 9 p.m. lately is practically a game of Frogger, only instead of cartoon cars, you’re dodging rats. In Washington Square Park, the bushes shake so much from their furry dwellers that they look like Munchkinland when Dorothy arrives.
Every negative story in the press written about my neighborhood’s infestation and every Instagram video of a rat rave at a cupcake store is, in my opinion, a gift from God. Perhaps they will push one bright-eyed, bushy-tailed NYU prospect to pick UW Madison instead, or show a finance bro the glory of a doorman building near Central Park.
As long as they keep humans out, and my rent low-ish, these little animals will be my best friends and cherished neighbors.
After all, the bubonic plague can now be treated with simple antibiotics.
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