Last week at a big meeting with a big developer, the conversation wandered.
It had been a long day. The zip from the afternoon's coffee was long gone. We were pouring over plans for condominiums planned to sell for 10 to 12 million, each.
While looking over the kitchen in one of the units, the developer turned to me and said, 'In one of my first apartments in New York, I didn't have any kitchen counter space. There were eight inches to the side of the stove, and I had to make my own countertop.
'So I went to Ikea and bought a cabinet for a hundred bucks. I tore it apart to fit into the space. It took me all weekend and it looked like crap...but I had my eight inches of countertop, enough space for a small plate.'
Everyone in New York is armed with such war stories. For some reason, the stories often resurface at parties, with strangers drawing on napkins, comparing their first apartments.
At my previous apartment on the Upper West Side, my 'kitchen' was essentially two small niches facing each other. The sink took up one niche, and in the opposite niche was the stove. During my mother's first visit, she announced I had bad feng shui, because my fire source was being constantly extinguished by my water source.
One friend's bathroom was so small, he couldn't sit on the toilet, without keeping the door open. And just about everyone's seen apartments with the claw-foot tub in the kitchen. (Eek!)
I'm sure Mr. Developer lives in a nice apartment nowadays. But like everyone else, he had to start somewhere.
Photo by myself, on Park Avenue and 96th Street.