Sometimes your girlfriends ask you about the sweetest things men have done for you. So when I tell them about the pissing on my front door, regularly, for the better part of a year, they generally give a look, as girlfriends do. And then I have to tell the story. But to be clear, right off, I am not a fetishist: For a long time, I didn’t even know it was pee.
Initially, I blamed the plumbing. I walked that short distance — from my studio’s “west wing” to its kitchen-nook-entrance area — to find the mysterious stream, and I screamed at my pipes for reducing me to hands and knees. And until the elusive pool began to tease me more often, I blamed the pipes alone.
Maybe my neighbors knew something I didn’t.
“Does a, um, mini-reservoir appear outside your door sporadically?” The response to which was generally: “No.”
But then, an appearance by Next-Door Neighbor Eric. He had seen the puddle. As it happens, he had also smelled it.
“I think it’s urine,” he said. “Someone’s pet?”
I’ve got a terrible sense of smell, and the liquid was never yellow, so, no, it hadn’t occurred to me — despite the repeated cleanings. It’s not like I was going to taste it, and I wasn’t about to send it into the lab, either. But Eric was convinced.
“At least we know the dogs in our building are well-hydrated,” I laughed. He didn’t. Was it my fault some churlish, neighboring dog had decided to mark me? To mark my home?
And so, obviously I posted a sneering note in the lobby, asking all to supervise their pets more closely. Twelve hours later, the letter was gone. That afternoon, my door was soaked. Three times.
Before I could retaliate, an elderly ground-floor dweller pulled me aside. Like I was Woodward or something.
“It’s Ricky,” she whispered.
“A dog isn’t peeing on your door,” she continued, as if this was supposed to make quite a bit of sense. “You know: Ricky.”
“I don’t think I do?” I was feeling pretty bad about the collateral damage of my door-piss, now that it had possibly triggered dementia in an octogenarian.
“Ricky… has Down’s Syndrome.”
“He’s 38, and he lives on an upper floor with his mother,” the woman continued, beginning to scuttle away. “I’ve seen him urinate on your door.”
Until then, I hadn’t known Ricky by name, and if there is a profile of door-pisser, he didn’t fit it. But this neighbor had to be right. I approached my super, George.
“I have reason to believe that Ricky’s been peeing on my door,” I said. And I tried not to laugh, but I couldn’t help it. (Am I supposed to feel bad for laughing? Tell me after you’ve encountered some door piss.)
“Ricky,” George said, shaking his head in a sounds-about-right kind of way. “I’ll talk to him.”
A few hours later, George reported back with what Ricky had told him.
I think that girl’s sexy. That’s why I do it.
Ricky would stop, he had promised George, but now — now I felt shallow. Also, slightly revolted to know that I’d mopped up a middle-aged man’s piss so often. I contemplated drafting a letter of complaint citing New York’s Warrant of Habitability. I was also slightly afraid. Ricky had access to the fire escape that led directly to my bedroom window.
And yet, was there not something plainly sweet about Ricky’s advances? I pictured him on one of his covert missions: the scoping of territory, the furtive whipping-out, the escape. In hindsight, I was flattered. It was daring.
The next morning: a brusque knock.
“It’s Ricky,” a hoarse voice declared.
Instead of announcing that I had just gotten out of the shower,
I asked, “Can you come back later?”
But Ricky repeated himself. A few minutes later, he knocked again.
I cracked the door: guilty eyes.
“Pee pee no more,” he said.
I extended my hand. “If you stop peeing on my door, we can definitely be friends,” I said. Maybe that was overstating it. But, you know: diplomacy, right?
And that was that. I can’t say that I miss the door-piss, but I can say that Ricky’s creative displays of affection still count for something. In another world, when Ricky’s not pissing on my door, maybe it does. Maybe even in this one. It’s bittersweet, and not because of his disability. It’s the piss that makes it hard, and it’s the daring that makes it harder.
Mélanie Berliet is a writer living in New York City.