Unlike most West Village New Yorkers, Stephen and Jose did not have pets. Perhaps the four floor walk-up was the reason the couple did not adopt a dog and grant it a cosmopolitan name like “Dino” or “Fee Fee”. A glass aquarium in the corner of the half-empty apartment was the only drop of the couple’s previous life on Perry Street that remained. They swam in love and dove through many arguments in the cozy studio for more than a decade. Now the charming studio seemed barren and dry, as did their souls that day I had my last glass of wine inside of 60 Perry Street, Apt. #4. At least as they packed to head off to Vieques, they did not have animals to contend with.
The inter-racial couple decided to informally adopt a squirrel instead of care-free creatures like cats that take care of themselves and need just fresh water, dry food and a clean litter box. They at one time in the mid-nineties had two gold fish, yet despite the ease of keeping underwater pets, their love nest proved to be inhospitable for even infant carp.
“Pebbles and Bam Bam perished after I changed the water in their tank. We had those goldfish for two years and they were getting really big. It was only after I got a new Pur water filter that our beloved pets died. I didn’t know the water had to be room temperature. New York’s water comes from the Catskills, you know. I thought Jose was going to divorce me. We loved those fish like children. We kept the filter on the tank running to ease our pain over the years. The bubbles soothed Jose at night,” Stephen explained while sipping a strong Cape Cod while entertaining a crowd of queens on the roof deck of 60 Perry Street one summer evening. Stephen went on to share the fate of their third pet “Coqui” that was adopted six months after Pebbles and Bam Bam were made sushi.. Coqui was a white aquarium frog that the couple raised from a tadpole, according to the tale:-
“Coqui got out all the time. We thought it was the cutest thing,” Jose explained.
“Oh yes—“ Stephen injected, “He’d hop under the futon and stay until he got thirsty and then, like any alcoholic, came out and practically begged to be put back in his tank. You would have sworn he was heeling. At least we didn’t have to pick up his shit. Anyway, Coqui somehow managed to jump upon the window ledge one morning—as if it were his lily pad—oh, he was so cute—should have seen ‘em sittin’ there in the sun. I don’t know if you ever noticed, but we don’t have screens in our windows here. It was morning and the mosquitoes of night were gone when Coqui suddenly jumped out the window. We watched in horror as he clung to the green leaves of that giant elm that grows from Sara Jessica Parker’s yard. Who knows what ever happened to that frog. Perhaps Sara keeps it in her tub.”
The guests sitting on Stephen and Jose’s roof deck erupted in laughter as Stephen told the story of Coqui. Stephen often cracked jokes about his neighbor, Sara Jessica Parker from Sex and the City. Parker and her husband Matthew Broderick lived directly behind Stephen and Jose on a house that faced Charles Street. At one of Stephen and Jose’s soriree’s, intoxicated partiers were granted a glimpse of the skinny star when she appeared in a well-lit kitchen, wearing simple denim jeans, and sat on a barstool to read what appeared from our perspective to be the ‘New York Times’.
“We’re tossing out the fish tank,” Stephen explained, as I sat there with him and Jose in their old place, reminiscing of the good years that had gone by as dust balls rolled across the hardwood floor like little Coquis. I was still in disbelieve that my only true friends in New York were leaving town.
“You said you may come back to New York in eight months,” I reminded them.
“Fuck this town,” Stephen snipped as Jose quickly jumped from the futon to refill his glass.
“More Charles?” Jose asked.
“Just a drop. Thank you.”
“We’ll come back in eight months, but that’s only to sublet this place again. We’re tired of New York. This town has become a bore to us. Nothing but anorexic bitches running around on cocaine—oh, and of course, their rich boyfriends who work on Wall Street. This is not what I moved here for. I cannot even stand to watch Sex and the City anymore. This town has made every gay man mad—just look at where you just came from, Charles,” Stephen blasted, hinting to me that too perhaps I should make my getaway plan from the city not even fit for pets before I lost what was left of my rational consciousness.