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My Landlady Called Me a Slut, Repeatedly, Again and Again

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Curbed Horror Stories are firsthand reader reports about terrible apartment experiences past and present. Got a Curbed Horror Story of your own? Send it to tips@curbed.com.

Years ago, when I was young and clueless, I moved into an apartment in a decrepit brownstone in Park Slope. It was half a block from the park, so my roommate and I thought we could deal with the crappy state of the building, especially since we were charmed by the live-in landlady, an elderly Eastern European woman who hugged us both after all the paperwork was signed.

It wasn't until we settled in that the truth was revealed. The ancient, probably senile guy who was always clomping up and down the stairs? That was the landlady's husband, which made him the super. Whenever the bathroom ceiling fell in or the electricity stopped working or something else broke in our apartment, which was often, the procedure to get it fixed went like this:

First, we'd go tell the landlady, who would inevitably start yelling that we must have done something stupid and/or that the real problem was that we were sluts. Then, she would go find her husband, who would also yell at us, this time in an unidentifiable language that might have been Ukrainian and might have been a sign that something was terribly wrong with his teeth. Next, he would try to fix the problem in the most terrifying way possible. (We once watched him literally stick a fork in an electric socket.) Finally, they would leave, still yelling, and the "repair" would immediately collapse again.

The problem wasn't just us: The landlady had the same relationship with everyone else in the building. We once watched her assault one of our neighbors, which was more funny than disturbing -- he was a normal-sized guy and she was a tiny old lady -- but was disturbing nonetheless. When it got cold, we discovered that she was adamantly opposed to turning on the heat. We'd knock on her door and say "It's 32 degrees in our apartment. Can you please put on the heat?" and she'd go "NO! YOU ARE SLUTS!" and slam the door.

Meanwhile, she was waging war with the lesbian couple downstairs because she'd let herself into their apartment one day when they weren't around and discovered that they slept in one bed. She also once appeared in our living room to complain that she didn't like how I'd arranged my closet. And when I insisted that our kitchen sink had to provide hot water as well as cold water, her elderly husband grabbed my hand and shoved it under the faucet yelling "Is hot! Is hot!" which, again, would have been creepier if the water actually was hot, but was still not OK.

Eventually I happened to tell all this someone who'd lived in Park Slope for years. "Oh, I know her," he said. "She's been like that for decades. In the '80s that building always had sheets hanging out the windows announcing that the tenants were going on rent strike." Needless to say, when the year ended, we didn't renew.
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