People You Don’t Meet in The Suburbs

No one has Supers in the suburbs.  I’m not sure anyone in my neighborhood knows what a Super is.  They probably all lived in the city at one time or another, but have had to had most of their memory erased so they can endure extremely sub-par bagels, banal conversations about boats, and wearing the same dreary, yet doubtless expensive “mommy uniform” around town.  Regardless, they do not remember ever having a Super, trust me.  And if they did, no one would talk about it. It’s just not done.

My first ever big-girl apartment was a first floor studio in Astoria, Queens.  Sound glamorous? Well, it was in spitting distance to both an all-night chicken place AND a weird Greek ramshackle gambling parlor – so yes, it was.  My Super was a woman in her 60’s named Dragita.  I’m not sure where she was from, but she knew everyone on the block and would literally yell nonsense at them all day long.  Her most endearing quirk was her way of nonchalantly telling a truly insane anecdote, as innocently as talking about a trip to the grocers.  In my first few weeks of living there, Dragita let me know all about the time her son watched Jesus Christ wrestle the Devil in the alley where we put our recycling.  She also keyed me in to the fact that there are so many one-winged pigeons in the neighborhood because there was a rising population of people practicing Voodoo.

I was a young girl in her 20s living alone in a questionably safe apartment with huge windows on the sidewalk level, so I think she thought I wanted her to look out for me.  In actuality, I’m fairly tough and just wanted to be left alone, but I don’t think she was terribly popular on the block so she and I let her feel like she was looking out for me.  She called me “movie star” and always asked if I was feeling ok.  One time, she offered me a bite right of out the block of cheese she was eating from her hand.  Even after she let me know it was “very expensive, imported from Croatia, ” I still said no.  Though I did appreciate the gesture.

Once I got over the constant fear of some drunken prankster pushing my A/C into my living room/bedroom, I really, really loved that place.  And I do miss Dragita.  She is not the type of person you meet out in the suburbs.