With a Roommate in Chelsea

The White Horse Tavern

After I’d worked at Figaro’s for a while I met M., the young man who was about to become my roommate.  The reason I’m not giving his full name is that last time I met him he was still alive and married to one of his early conquests.  He was the son of a lawyer in Brooklyn who had disappointed his father by not going the same route. Never-the-less, M. was still being supported by his father.  M. suggested that we pool our resources and share an apartment closer to Greenwich Village, to which I agreed, and soon after, we moved into a furnished apartment on West 25th Street. Neither of us had an interest in buying furniture or decorating an apartment.  I had one bedroom, and M. took over the other.  My bedroom was a rather quiet and sedate place when compared to M’s which turned into a center of whirlwind activity.

As I discovered, M’s chief preoccupation in life was women and sex, and he was a busy fellow.  How many and how often ruled his life.  What’s more, he also liked to brag about his sexual conquests and prowess by nailing his used condoms onto the wall of our hallway.  I must admit, the numbers were impressive.  While it may sound amusing today, it was not so for me at the time, not that I was living a celibate life, but M. was definitely twitting me.  There was absolutely no way I could keep up with him, nor was I interested in doing so for a variety of reasons, reasons obvious to everyone else but him.

As we were now closer to the West Side, as a matter of fact, we lived in Chelsea, we began hanging out at the White Horse Tavern, a bar on Hudson Street and West 12th Street which had acquired a definite association with things literary through the presence of Dylan Thomas and Brendan Behan, both at the time at the peak of their literary careers and their drinking.  The Clancy Brothers were also fond of the White Horse, and it was not unusual to find them there playing their instruments and singing around one of the big tables.  Much of the appeal of the White Horse was its light or dark ale on tap, something not to be found elsewhere.  For M. some of the appeal of the place rested in the fact that he could “score” here, and take the girls back to our apartment without too much trouble.  M. was handsome, smooth, and charming, and the ladies really liked him.

I was not a drinker, so bars held little appeal for me, particularly as I had Figaro’s available.  Things were really going well for Royce and Tom, and they had expanded into the store next door, which had been occupied by a violin maker.  Then they had expanded again into the garden.  It was now a large place with seating for about seventy, and evenings and on weekends the place was crowded and busy.  Tom’s managerial skills were well developed, although he was generally a creep who had difficulty managing his alcohol consumption and his affairs with various women.   Royce knew of his affairs, but she chose to ignore them. After all, this was Bohemia.


About AlexLevy

Dr. Alex Levy is a retired English teacher who survived World War II and the "Final Solution" by hiding in a Catholic orphanage for girls in Belgium for several years.
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