Wildlife Sprouts from my Bathroom Ceiling

By Mitch Lemus

"Don't just stand there, kill it!" my date Deidra shrieked, as she ran out of my bathroom with a nauseated look on her face. "Get that thing out of there, or I'm leaving and not coming back!"

I had gone to great lengths to finally rid my apartment of mice, roaches and other multi-legged creatures. So I was quite annoyed recently when confronted by a completely new foe -- a misguided mushroom, sprouting its bulbous head from a crack in the bathroom ceiling. There it hung, on a corkscrew stem, starring at me in this most private of rooms.

The offending fungus had apparently taken root one hot summer weekend while we were out of town. The bathroom door had been closed, creating a steamy climate not unlike that of a tropical rain forest.

I've been having this humidity problem in my bathroom for weeks. It all started when the excessive-compulsive woman who lives above me began washing her hands at a prolific rate. Apparently, the constantly running faucet prompted a leak, causing water to trickle down to my bathroom every so often.

Plink. Plink. Plink. Plink. Plunk... At times for hours on end -- and throughout the night.

At first, the excessive moisture caused pockets of paint to bubble on the ceiling. Before long, an upside-down cone emerged. Like a nasty whitehead, every so often it discharges, forcing me to dodge rusty droplets while peeing. All this for only $1,483 per month on the luxurious Upper East Side.

My super, or course, does not see this as a problem. Perhaps because the leak is in my apartment -- and not his. Besides, he has more important things to do -- like separate the recyclable trash.

"What type of mushroom is that anyway?" Deidra asked.

"Umm, I think it belongs to the genus of Grossisiscus Disgustilactis. If we eat it, we can go on an hallucinogenic trip together," I joked.

She was not amused. "That thing is soooo gross! Get rid of it now, or I'm going home," Deidra threatened. I had spent too much time and money wooing this girl, and I wasn't about to let an oversized spore of mold sabotage my sex life. So I grabbed a wad of toilet paper and was about to defoliate the premises when suddenly I stopped myself: Why am I doing this and not the super? Perhaps if he saw the mushroom, he'd realize the severity of the problem and finally get off his fat lazy ass and fix it.

I rang the super's bell and was greeted by his wife. As usual, she was in the midst of stinking up the hallway, frying some smelly fare like liver, only worse.

The super wasn't home, so I lead his wife to my bathroom to witness the protruding intruder for herself, but she seemed unfazed. "Yes, pipes many bad. My husband much in buildings making good again the pipes. You must wait. Yours not only broken apartment," she declared.

It's been two weeks since that rogue mushroom invaded my home. It since wilted and died. The ceiling, however, still continues to leak, as the super hasn't yet found time to fix it. Deidra has agreed to visit my apartment only if I promise to take her to expensive restaurants so she can use their bathrooms.

Whenever I enter my bathroom now, I can't help but stare deep into that mangled web of plaster. I have no idea what petri dish of diseases may be lurking within, but I do know this: Life will find a way to exist and thrive anywhere. Even in the urban jungle.

This story originally appeared in Our Town.

Copyright © Mitch Lemus