Thursday, March 22, 2007

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

This post was inspired by Darren, who wrote about a few of his memorably crazy neighbors. He also typically quotes cooler songs in his entry titles than I do.

Until I was six, we lived next door to an Armenian family that I loved. The daughters were in high school and always talking about boys. They didn't really alter their conversations when I was around and I loved that. One morning I wanted pancakes and my parents said something to the effect of, "Um, no, you can have cereal." I was sitting on our porch steps for a few minutes pondering this injustice when the dad next door saw me and asked what was going on. I told him I wanted pancakes but my parents wouldn't make them for me. He said he would. In that brief and shining moment, I became a spoiled brat. Funny sidenote: Neighbor dad went to high school with Lola's mom.

Extreme sidenote: There's definite evidence of the Boston accent that I was starting to develop when we lived in that town. My dad taped a conversation between him and myself when I was about three. I listened to it again to get the actual transcript, so prepare to surrender a few moments of your life that you'll never get back. (The daughter in the family next door, Wendy, had a sprained knee at the time, or something.)

Me: You know what you have to tell me?
Dad: What?
Me: You have to tell me what noses [nurses] do, what they do to help in the doctah's [doctor's] office.
Dad: Well, they give people medicine.
Me: Yeah.
Dad: And they take people's temperature.
Me: Yeah.
Dad: And if you need a bandage, they help put the bandages on.
Me: What's bandages?
Dad: It's like a big Band-Aid.
Me: Do you know what bandages are?
Dad: What?
Me: Well, it's like a big, big... thing. Sometimes you weh [wear] it on ya knee like Wendy.
Dad: That's right.
Me: Well, that's what it is.
Dad: Oh, okay.
Me: [suddenly impassioned] And those things ah [are] HAHD [hard]! Theh [they're] really really hahd! Wendy's is hahd. It's hahd!

Gah. Like a knife in the heart. Luckily cassettes will be obsolete soon. Oh wait, I'm just now getting a live feed from the newsroom: They already are.

Anyway, our other neighbors in that crazy 'hood had a daughter, Kathy, who was in high school, worked as a waitress and babysat for me a lot because my parents were in their early 30s and still wanted a life or something. For a few years I decided that I also wanted to be a waitress named Kathy. I'm not sure I understood that jobs didn't give you the opportunity to change your name. I still see Kathy now and again, but she's really cynical and downtrodden and always rolling her eyes about everything. My mom thinks her six-year-old son is ugly anad periodically likes to discuss this with me. The conversation always goes the same way: "Mom, you can't just call him ugly. He's a child. That's brutal." "Well, he IS. Did you see that last Christmas card? He looks like a prisoner of war, Red! UG-LY."

In our next house, the neighbors pretty much all had kids around my age. And the ones that didn't, well, who cared about them? I loved my bedroom... when I was in bed the window was right next to my head, which is still my ideal window location and I've never had it since. All I remember is playing all day, Garbage Pail Kids, charm necklaces, You Can't Do That On Television.

There were no real noteworthy neighbors in our next house, which is the one that my parents have now lived in for almost twenty years. I was in fifth grade by the time we moved there which meant less frenetic neighborhood play and more "my friends are coming over, please leave us alone." I lived there until I left for college, at which point Dorie and her husband moved in, so I guess they're officially my favorite neighbors that I've never really had for neighbors.

In college my neighbors included a girl who played Torn by Natalie Imbruglia so much that I still can't listen to the damn song, a guy named Ray who changed the default beep on my computer to the orgasming girl in that Rob Zombie song, and one guy who smelled so bad that you knew when his door was open without having to open your own.

My most favoritest neighbor in college was Ryan, of course. I wanted a single room for my junior year but I had a craptastic number in the housing lottery. It was the end of my sophomore year and I wasn't sure what I was going to do. As much as I loved my friends I just didn't want another year in a bunk bed (and yes, in case you're wondering, my college had a really bad housing situation... there weren't suites or apartments or anything like that).

So then one of my friends was dating this guy (Ryan) who was going to be an RA the following year, and the deal was that RAs could only pick a junior or senior to be their "singlemate" (i.e. you live in rooms separated by a door). Ryan was a year behind me and didn't know any soon-to-be juniors except for my friend, who was going to be an RA somewhere else. She introduced us and we awkwardly decided to shack up for the following year. It was either me or some stranger, and he probably figured that at least his girlfriend could vouch for me. I had no impression of him from that first meeting, and I wasn't overly excited about living next door to him. Come August, we were moving in and she had broken up with him, so it was basically like, "Hey, neighbor! I'm the friend of that girl who stomped on your heart!"

Although we were off to a weird start, it didn't last long. We immediately discovered our mutual birthdays and mutual everything else. We went to Fenway for a game, the first of many times we'd go. He was a Yankees fan, but the good-natured kind. This was around ten years ago when you could just show up and buy a bleachers seat for the game that night (for eight dollars!). Anyway, as time went on we decided we had a good thing and that we'd maintain our living situation until I graduated, which meant that senior year the housing gods finally smiled on me, because by then Ryan had been promoted to King of All RAs or some title like that and we got our pick of rooms in the best dorm. Of course, we chose ones next door to each other.

One time during that first year singlemating with Ryan, he and I were in his room watching Frasier (I'm sorry to tell you that was a very common occurrence) when a guy from down the hall came running breathlessly into the room. He said, "Hey Ry, do you... oh. Hi." Ryan, always the conscientious RA, got up to speak to him privately. (I would've likened him to Noel Crane, but my beloved Felicity didn't come on the air until the following year.) Then Ryan came back into the room, found a condom and gave it to the guy, who left. Not five minutes later, he was sauntering back down the hall and gave a quick wave as he went by Ryan's room. Oh, college boys. Does anyone really miss sleeping with them?

After college I lived in a tiny apartment on a little tree-lined street with a dive called the Busy B within walking distance. I loved it there. Our side of the street was all identical two family homes that had been cut in half and rented as apartments. Identical being the key word. A couple days after we moved in, I was in the backyard and my roommate ran out for something, assuming that I had my keys with me (because doesn't everyone, when they're in their backyard?) and I was locked out.

The funny thing is that our landlord, who owned most of the apartments on the street, apparently got tired of people calling him because they were locked out, especially since he didn't live in the neighborhood himself, so he kept copies of all of our keys behind the desk at the nursing home up the street. So on this and a couple other shameful occasions (at least I was sober that first time), I had to go to the nursing home, explain my predicament, and have the woman at the desk look me in the eye and say something immensely helpful like "HUH? You want a key to WHERE?" until she found someone else working who had once heard of the fact that some guy who owns some of those houses keeps copies of the keys somewhere in the vicinity of the front desk.

Anyway, on this particular day I got the key, walked back to my apartment and saw that the door was open. Gah, my roommate was already back; if I'd known she wouldn't be gone for long I could've just waited for a few minutes. Oh well. I walked in the front door and saw that our furniture had been moved. And replaced with all new furniture. And that there was a guy I didn't know sitting on the couch. How long had I been gone for? Of course, I had walked into my neighbor's apartment. The funny thing was that the guy on the couch was a friend of my neighbor, so he didn't know it was unusual for me to just walk in, and he looked at me and said, "Oh, hey, she's just in the other room." When you bust into a home that isn't yours, you would at least expect someone to leap up and say, "OH MY GOD! WHO ARE YOU?" Then my neighbor walked out of her bedroom, saw me standing there in total bewilderment and said, "Hey Red! Did you walk into the wrong apartment?"

Umm. Yes. Yes, I sure did.

Our other neighbors, with whom we shared the house, were about our age, a blond and a brunette, and affectionately nicknamed the Blond One and the Brown One. We preferred the Blond One because she would occasionally shovel the walk, but the Brown One was useless, and was mostly mentioned in the context of things like, "The Brown One took my motherfreakin' parking space again!"

Our neighbors on the other side of them had a sticker on their front door that said, "I can only please one person a day. Today isn't your day. Tomorrow doesn't look good either." Charming.

After two years there, I moved here. Here, where it's crazy neighbor central. But I believe that's already been well-documented. But considering some of the stuff that they must have seen me do (the least of which was being outside and handcuffed to a few of my friends on New Year's Eve) I'm really not one to point fingers.

(Also, new addition over in the sidebar: recipes!)


Libragirl said...

I'm a little sad to say, I was probably the crazy neighbor for people, because I just didn't care what they thought of me.

So someday someone is gonna do a post like this -and it will be about me.
That would be cool

don't call me MA'AM said...

I'm not a very good neighbor... in fact, I'd prefer to live in a house where the closest neighbor is at least a 20 minute walk from my front door. Of course, I don't though. My neighbor can see in my bedroom window when he mows his lawn. Boo.

Darren McLikeshimself said...

Oh, wait. We're doing college too? Okay, now you've just inspired me.

stefanie said...

"Oh, college boys. Does anyone really miss sleeping with them?" Heh. I think I actually met that guy somewhat recently.

Also, I would LOVE to hear that tape of you discussing nurses with your father. I definitely think you should do an audio post of that. :-)

-R- said...

We have old videos from when we lived in New Jersey, and THE ACCENT! It is so bad! I cannot believe I ever talked liked that. Of course, not I talk like Minne-soooota, so I am not sure it is any better.

Lola said...

come on, they only wish they could be handcuffed to their closest friends at a fabulously alcohol-laden new years eve party instead of chasing their 20 kids around.