There are the alligators, removed from Florida as babies to serve as pets and then abandoned to the society of the New York sewer system as they grow. There are the very real rats of the subways; and their friends the roaches that will likely survive nuclear winter; and of course there has always been and will always be specter of human monsters real, like Joel Steinberg and Hedda Nussbaum, and those of far more dubious solidity, like the dudes giving out free LSD on Donald Duck postage stamps or the white slavers my parents were always certain were going to get me. This, of course, was one of those concepts I never quite grasped when I was nine and thought it meant that I'd wind up a scullery maid to some princess of Arabia or India, draped in scarves and bedecked in diamonds.
Of course, a city of monsters requires constant birth, in mind if not flesh. There must be teeming.
Which is how the chihuahua thing started. Sort of.
When I was 22 I lived with a guy named Greg. We eventually broke up, and he got together with another girl in our Internet social circle who lived in Canada. She had a sister and one day when they were visiting, in the spirit of amicable sophistication that we all thought we possessed, all of us and several others went to brunch at Old Devil Moon.
Greg asked me how the packs of wild chihuahuas that had roamed our neighborhood were doing. What he was referring to was a dude down the block who had ten and walked them in a little flock, but before I could answer or explain the sister goes "Oh my god, WHAT?!??"
So I ran with it.
"Oh, yeah, it's a big problem here. They're feral and have diseases and stuff. They get up into the walls of buildings and die in there and really fucking stink; they eat people's trash and stuff. And the animal groups get all upset about population control and extermination and stuff, but sometimes kids get bitten by rabid ones, and it's a pretty serious thing. They cause a lot of the asthma in the projects too."
She totally believed it. And everyone else I was with was so flabbergasted they just let me keep going and going and going, and it was only months later that we broke the news that there was not, in fact, a chihuahua infestation problem in New York City's East Village.
I, of course, use this story all the time -- usually at auditions when casting folk ask me to tell a funny story about myself. More recently, I've become enamored of the idea of doing a mockumentary about the chihuahua infestation and have vaguely cast all sorts of friends in it. I have, however, generally been short of chihuahuas, and so went to Craigslist looking for actor dogs.
Craigslist, on the odd chance you didn't know, it totally harboring a million insane people who all deserve to be urban legends themselves, and my responses included a woman who directed me to her MySpace page all about how her boyfriend owns her but also featuring pictures of her chihuahua TANK (yes, TANK is always entirely capitalized) and a dog trainer who claims to have a chihuahua that can hail Satan.
So while the chihuahua infestation is both not real and not even a real urban legend, I feel glad that my fictional and apparently easy to fall for dog rodents have a feral society and move in packs, because really? I still feel totally bad for the abandoned alligator babies.