These are the People in My Neighborhood

The day we moved into our new apartment, I met the old lady next door, Virginia. She came outside in her mumu/house dress with the knee high nylons rolled down over her ankles, bedroom slippers and the most unbelievable wig/dead animal planted on top of her head. She called me over and asked my name. I told her. She said, "What? What? I can't hear you!" This went on about five more times. "Annie? Janie? Susan?" I experienced a phenomenon I haven't encountered since about 7th grade--this great desire to burst out laughing at an inappropriate moment (like when you're being yelled at by your chemistry teacher whose fly is undone or when your friend farts during the Lord's Prayer at Church). She didn't seem to notice. She said, "I'm 84, can you believe it? I live with my son. He's 60. He's never been married. Don't tell him I told you that. I'm 86! Fooled you."

Soon after, I noticed that the sidewalk in front of our apartment is host to an inordinate amount those skittish cooing bowling pins known as city pigeons. Virginia likes to toss bread crumbs out to them and watch them peck at the ground. Alternately, she hates having them nearby and chases them off with a broom.

Once when Shawn and I were passing by, she said, "I can't find my cat!" We both stopped. Shawn said, "Oh, he'll come back when he gets hungry." She said, "He just ran away. He's a black cat." The wig on her head is so incredible, I can't accurately describe it. Gray and ratted--it occurs to me now that maybe it's not a wig. It could be her real hair that she hasn't washed or combed in a decade. I said, "What's your cat's name?" She paused for a minute. "Oh, ain't that a shame, I can't remember it. " I said, "We'll check the alleyways for him." She leaned over and kissed me on the cheeks saying, "Oh, you are a sweetheart!" I again almost had a seizure from trying not to laugh. I saw her son a little while later and asked him if the cat had come back. He said, "The cat? The cat is fine. She forgets that he goes down to the basement sometimes." Not long after that, I was sitting in the office and I heard her voice down below; she has this scratchy old lady voice with a slight whistling sound because she's missing several teeth. I couldn't understand what she said, but the guy passing by goes, "Oh, he'll come back when he's hungry!"

I swear to God her hair looks like this

She is also often pleasantly surprised when she sees me unlocking our apartment. She will say "Oh, you live here? You'll love this neighborhood! Just love it!"

Other neighbors: the slinky Siamese cat across the street who hangs out on his front porch on warm days. He will jump on your shoulders if you're not careful, but is otherwise very friendly and cross-eyed.

And then I saw another old lady both days this weekend, also feeding pigeons from her front step. Yesterday, she was sitting in her doorstep in her mumu with her legs askew, reading an old receipt. You could see her underwear.

And thank you, to the couple on Carmac/8th St. who allowed Shawn and I a free live sex show last night. The girl was wearing a bright red sports bra type thing and I thought at first she was just really, really working hard on a treadmill; like, leaning super far forward, but then she straightened up and this guy's head popped up and he got behind her and appeared to be rearranging her. He also wore his shirt. We were standing on the other side of the street, looking up at their third story window, so we didn't actually see any nudity but we did see him get behind her and thrust rapidly again and again about 15 times; didn't look that sexy and didn't last that long. He collapsed on top of her, though all you could see were her legs wrapped around his back. I suggested to Shawn that we applaud. Neither one of us experienced a single tinge of guilt at being that voyeuristic. We didn't clap. I wouldn't want to encourage the guy's poor performance.


Karin said…
Yes, city neighborhood tales are always interesting. My neighbors Bob and Cathy have full-blown, public dramatic episodes at least 3 times a week. Bob is skinny, has a bad leg, and has rotten teeth. Cathy has no teeth, but a full moustache.

I love the picture of the rats nest in the bbq. My mother's hair looks like that sometimes, and she's not even 60.

As for the live sex shows, I've seen a few in my day. When I was 17, I was in Ft. Lauderdale for a swim competition. I was staying in a U-shaped high-rise hotel: three towers were connected; the outer two were angled, thereby forming a loose U.

Anyway, it was the middle of the night, and I couldn't sleep. The room was hot, and I was worried about the next day's competition. So I went onto the balcony for some fresh air. My room was located near one of the corners of the U's middle tier, so I could easily see into the rooms in the adjacent tier -- as long as their blinds were open. Within a few minutes, moans echoed through the inner chamber of the U. About 25 yards away, in a room across from me, I spotted two nude superstars having intense screaming sex, with their balcony doors thrown wide open.

I was stunned. My sexual experiences to date nowhere near resembled anything like that. I crawled back to bed and put a pillow over my head, letting my sense of inadequacy compound with my anxiety about swimming. Needless to say, I slept badly that night.