the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Wrong Apartment 1H

For the last few days, we’ve had guests in the house — my cousin Alan and his wife, Beth, came in from Cleveland.  I don’t know them well.  I only met them once before, during my bar mitzvah.  Both of them are in their fifties, and former hippies. 

“I’ve been to all three Woodstocks” Alan told me. 

I had no idea that there were three Woodstocks. 

During the last one, Alan camped out near the concert site with a friend.  On the second day of the concert, they decided to take a hike.

“Should we take the tent with us?”  asked his friend.

“Nah.  This is Woodstock, man!” he answered.

When they returned, their tent was stolen and they had to sleep in the van during a rainstorm.

Alan is also an obsessive baseball fan.  His main reason for coming to New York was to attend games at Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium before both teams moved to their new homes.

Alan and Beth are nice enough, but the hippy shtick, which was probably once cute, is now annoying to anyone with a real life.  I hope I don’t sound too anti-family, but you just don’t walk around naked in the morning unless you are VERY close relatives.  And it wasn’t like they were coming here to build homes for the poor… or to even visit us.  They just drove to New York to see some baseball games. 

They also provided bad luck for our New York teams.  Both teams lost.  The Mets lost 11-0.

Ex-hippies may have XM radio nowadays, but they apparently don’t believe in suitcases.  I met my cousins by their car when they pulled in.  Their luggage was in twenty-five shopping bags.  Since they were vegans, three of the shopping bags contained food.  Two of the shopping bags were vitamins.  The rest were clothes.  What a pain in the ass.  It took a half hour to carry everything upstairs.  Alan also brought a guitar.

“Do you play?” I asked.

“No,” he answered.  “But I always wanted to learn.”

I carried the guitar upstairs and it sat unopened in the hallway until I carried it back to the car several days later, when they left.

Alan took a bit interest in me when he saw me in the kitchen with my laptop, and I told him that I was “writing a screenplay.”  He said that he believed in past lives, and that in a past life, he was “a successful New York playwright living in the late 1950’s.”  I told him that even though I am skeptical about “past lives,” I respected his belief.  I didn’t tell him that since he was alive in the late 1950’s, he could not possibly have had a past life as a successful New York playwright in the late 1950’s.  But who needs logic?

I hate to go for the stereotype, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this couple had, at one time in the past, consumed immense quantities of marijuana.  They had the worst sense of direction.  When hey wanted to go somewhere on their own, I gave them explicit instructions printed from MapQuest. 

They want to visit a local bakery.  They walked several miles the wrong way. 

They wanted to visit the Museum of Natural History.  They got lost on the subway and visited “The Museum of Sex” instead.  They loved it!

My apartment complex consists of two buildings.  Although the buildngs look alike, their entrance ways are located on opposite streets.  Each building has a different address, which is clearly printed over the entrance.   I’ve never heard of anyone mistaking one building for the other. 

On the way home from “The Museum of Sex,” Alan and Beth walked into the wrong apartment building.  They took the elevator to the first floor and walked to Apartment 1H, where is our apartment number, although the one in the other building.  Alan and Beth tried to open the front door with the house keys that I gave to him on the first day.  Neither of them could open the door.  They started arguing and jiggling the knob in frustration. 

Suddenly, Mary Fanelli, the tenant of the other Apartment 1H, opened the door, the doorchain still firmly attached, brandishing a steak knife and screaming for the police. 

Alan explained who he was, and luckily, Mary knew my mother from the weekly mah jonng game.

I can’t wait to hear the gossip at the next game.


  1. natalie

    hippies are so old fashioned nowadays. but i must say your stories about them made me laugh out loud!

  2. judy c

    Old Cleveland hippies usually are, oh hell they’re just as you described. My city apologizes.

  3. Yvonne

    Neil, this is a hilarious post. I read it to my bf and he got a big kick out of it. One of our favourite hobbies is whispering ‘f*cking hippy* when someone wearing hempy rags and/or scraggly hair is spotted, started when we visited Byron Bay in Oz and saw all these hippies ripping off backpackers like tie-dyed Donald Trumps. Sickening.

  4. Dagny

    Marijuana? There was probably some shrooms, LSD and possibly peyote involved back in the day.

    What’s one of the good things about seeing relatives? One usually has some interesting stories after.

  5. Jesse Luna

    You’ve got to love the Hippies. They had the right idea. Love and peace are the right way and war is an indication of the psychosis of a society.

    But as people abandoned these ideas, the remaining few appear more and more fringe and sometimes plain looney.

  6. MammaLoves

    They definitely took (take?) something.

  7. V-Grrrl

    Look at you, boldly writing about the relatives from Cleveland. Definitely, the cahones (sp.?) are growing.

    So why haven’t you blogged about the sex museum before? It sounds like something I would have seen in Amsterdam.

  8. Jill - GlossyVeneer

    The shopping bags as luggage and the guitar that isn’t played, those are the things that got me. Seriously funny, nice details…

  9. Noelle

    You just reminded me that I need to get myself over to the other side of the river now and again. The hippies on to the east of the Hudson just don’t compare to the ones hanging out in New Paltz and Woodstock. Sometimes, in a strong wind, you can smell them.

  10. People in the Sun

    No… They walked around naked… Some people are so weird. And I know it takes all kinds, but it shouldn’t take all kinds in your kitchen.

  11. sizzle

    Of course they loved the Sex Museum. What kind of Woodstock hippies would they be? I sincerely hope that the woman with the knife actually knows your mom because THAT is hilarious.

  12. Sheryl

    This is the funniest post I have read in a while.
    “Alan also brought a guitar.
    ‘Do you play?’ I asked.
    ‘No,’ he answered. ‘But I always wanted to learn.’”

    That’s priceless, and a close second is having another life while you’re still alive.

    Hi. larious.

  13. Memarie Lane

    My mother’s entire family (she has 9 siblings) is converging on us this next week. Mainly Oklahomans and Texans. At the same time, my MIL and SIL and all her kids are stopping by on their way to a reunion in Iowa. At the same time my husband is taking a week off of work to monopolize the computer and stink up the bathroom. Will I survive?

  14. Bryna

    The last woodstock was not a real woodstock… C’mon a concert for 20 years was nice, but they were totally trying to capitalize with the 25th anniversary. It was bound to self destruct. There weren’t real hippies at that one. My husband was there and he was just a club-drug kid.

  15. wendy

    I have no judgement on the wrong door business…or the pot business…

    Kinda the pot calling the kettle…

  16. All Adither

    My God. They sound like stereotypes. Like Dharma’s parents.

  17. kenju

    Hilarious! I can’t believe he mentioned being reincarnated at a time when he was already alive in this life. Unbelievable!

  18. Miss Britt

    Thanks a lot Neil.

    Now Karl is ADAMANT that we go to The Sex Museum.

  19. miguelina

    I loved this. I feel like I know your hippy cousins now. I know you’re writing a screenplay, but please consider writing a novel. Please?

  20. Annie

    When I was 12 I loved hippies and wanted to be one, but when I was 18 I became a punk instead :-). Now I think they are both silly :-).
    Now the Beats-they were cool.
    Good story.

  21. Robb

    This was very funny… I can imagine the shoppig bags now… Worn out, some with holes…

    Perhaps Alan is suffering from “Life Collision” – It could be that he really was a playwright in the late 50s and perhaps while the universe was busy watching “The Price is Right”, he was also accidentally reincarnated during that same time, which has left his poor soul in a state of terminal confusion. Perhaps the playwright him is out at this very moment searching for the new him and when the two come together, who knows hat will happen. I read the the other day end of the world is happening sometime next month… Coincidence?

  22. red lotus mama

    Hilarious! I think on top of the large amount of weed they consumed in one way or another I am sure psychedelic mushrooms and LSD were included in their Woodstock menu.

  23. Zombie Mom

    I love me some old hippies…. I really do. I wanted to be an hippie so bad when I was young. I seriously was bummed that I had missed out so I went to old hippie parties in Olympia and Santa Cruz and moved into a commune my first year in California. And then I realized that I was really a punk dressed in hippie clothes- so I changed wardrobes. That said, I do love me some hippies…

    Did yours have patchouli oil?

  24. better safe than sorry

    you have a sex museum, i think a field trip for you needs to be planned;)
    i think it’s great that you have relatives that drop in from wherever, i have such a small family, something like that would never happen.

  25. peachy

    hahahah! this post left me cracking up! it hits very close to home as most visitors growing up arrived with bags full of supplements, bedding, food, etc… to this day, i turn to the occasional plastic bag for packing purposes. really quite handy

  26. Finn

    I didn’t tell him that since he was alive in the late 1950’s, he could not possibly have had a past life as a successful New York playwright in the late 1950’s.

    That one made my day.

    They wanted to visit the Museum of Natural History. They got lost on the subway and visited “The Museum of Sex” instead.

    They’re not even in the same neighborhood. I vote for LSD too.

  27. plain jane

    Very funny…of course I won’t spoil the good story by asking for the truth quotient.

  28. Neil

    Plain Jane — this story has a pretty strong truth quotient, maybe 85-90%. The bags, the Woodstock, the guitar, the past life, the going to the wrong museum, the going to the wrong apartment — all happened.

    Writing is easy when you meet interesting people. I just hope they never read my post.

  29. plain jane

    Wow, I really thought the guitar part was made up. I live in the Northwest so of course I know all too well how true to life this is.

  30. Atomic Bombshell

    I’ve always thought that “hippy” was short for “hypocrite” and maybe I’m right.

  31. di

    Ummmm, this is a test-run of a screenplay?

  32. di

    Dammit, I like to sit with my comment for a few minutes, thinking over whether it’s appropriate and etc … sometimes I delete but your ‘Say It!’ is so … demanding, I press send way before I’m done with considering the comment.

  33. Nat

    I think I need to go to the sex museum!

  34. Non-Highlighted Heather

    Why do I always seem to be in the minority around here?

    I wear birkenstocks. And Patchouli. And at the moment I’m wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt. I’ll be at the Ratdog concert at the Greek on Sunday.

    However…I also hold down a full time job, live in a lovely home, have a son who just graduated 6th in his class, and it would have to be pitch black and I’d have to be wrecked to walk around in ANY kitchen naked, including my own.

  35. Kelly

    This reads like an anti-drug after school special. The part about the guitar really cracked me up.

  36. Kelly

    Random movie memory: The past lives pavilion in Defending Your Life. Makes me laugh every time. “What were you?,” she asks. “Lunch,” he says.

  37. dana

    Maybe they weren’t even at your apartment!! Maybe they were on an acid trip, SO STRONG, that their presence was only an apparition. could make a good screenplay for you!

  38. TorontoPearl

    Neil, can you believe that the punchiest bit for me in this post were these 2 sentences: “What a pain in the ass. It took a half hour to carry everything upstairs.”

    I can just picture you — grumbling under your breath but trying to be courteous nonetheless. Love it! Great slice-of-life piece.

  39. Nichelle


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