The Letter You Can’t Refuse

Aug 01

dreamstime_8408359.jpgWanna buy an apartment in New York? The good news is: prices are down and so are mortgage rates. The bad news is, you’re going to need a letter of recommendation.

Here in the Big Apple, you not only have to plunk down an obscene amount of money for a space you’d laugh at if you didn’t know better, you also have to get past the dreaded coop board. Basically, you have to prove that you’re financially stable and are not a lunatic. Except in certain buildings on Fifth Avenue where you have to prove you’re not Madonna and you are descended from the Mayflower. Not the hotel.

A coop board can refuse you for any reason, even if your finances are in order and you’re not a rock star who shows up at the interview wearing leather, in August, and asks how many amps he can plug in without cutting off the electricty, which would plunge the building into total darkness, as if he cared.

The only safe question to ask, I have found, is which is the best Chinese takeout in the neighborhood. This will provoke a lively debate among the board members and will get the attention off you, no matter what your finances are, when your grandparents got off the boat, and what you’re wearing. Yes, Chinese takeout is the ticket.

But even if you get through the interview with flying chopsticks, you still have to provide at least one letter of recommendation. When I was buying my first apartment, a friend wrote the following one for me. I didn’t use it, for reasons that will become obvious, but I have saved it for all these years just for this moment . . .

Letter of Recommendation to the Coop Board for Pat Fortunato

20 October 1986

To Whom It May Very Well Concern:

I am a businessman. I run a little business, a little import, a little of some other things.It’s a nice business. It supports a very big family, one of the biggest, maybe the biggest, now. People know me. People treat me with respect.

I am writing for Patrizia Fortunato. She says she wants to live in your building. I think that’s a good idea. Patrizia is very close to me, she’s like my own daughter, she’s my goddaughter. She should be treated with respect. She’s a good girl, not like some of these sluts these days that don’t have respect for their families. She takes care of her mother and father, she goes to have Christmas with them. She’s got her own business, a nice business. She doesn’t make a lot of noise. She’s neat. She’s very clean. She’s never been arrested. It will be good that she’s in your building.

You’ve got a nice building. I know because I got people working there. A lot can happen in a building. A lot of things can go wrong. Things happen. I think Patrizia is very lucky because nothing ever happens in buildings where she lives.

I think you will like Patrizia living in your building. Why not sleep at night.

M. “TF” Gazzaniga

Well, as I said, I never used the letter, which was probably the smartest thing I did that year, although I did send it to the Times for a special section on coop boards. They didn’t use it either.

And I never found out what the “TF” stood for.letter_doorman.jpg
Maybe my doorman knows. Doormen know everything.

 Do YOU have any ideas?
Any ideas I can print?



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