Saturday, April 09, 2011

Shelf life

Nearly everybody smoked back then, and very few were attentive housekeepers. Drugs in particular caused many to lose track of key details. Take, for example, the couple on the third floor with the boa. They loved their boa, loved feeding it mice, loved the sight of its glistening scales wrapping around a table leg—but drugs made them distracted. They neglected their biweekly purchase of mice for long enough that the snake was driven to find his meals elsewhere. One day he just disappeared. Had he been stolen? Had he chosen to join the alligators in the sewers? The question was answered definitively a few months later. On the ground floor, a tenant, going to brush his teeth first thing in the morning, opened his medicine cabinet—and very nearly had a heart attack when the boa rippled over the shelf from a hole in the wall. To my mind, this illustrated an important principle of apartment living: What goes around comes around, although it may very well hit your neighbor instead. —Luc Sante, "My Dealing, Stealing, Squealing Neighbors," New York

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