All I see is you…
Remember this guy?
Good ole Mr. Rogers. I used to watch that show all the time. His therapist-like voice would put me at ease as I watched the little train go to the Neighborhood of Make Believe.
That place was dope.
Now that I’m a 30 something year old man I got to thinking about that show the other day and realized he’s to blame for all the woes I’ve had with neighbors over the years. He lured me into a false sense of security and made me believe that neighbors could actually be nice, genuine, friendly, cooperative and respectful people.
At this point in time I’d gladly take a creepy old pedophile in a cardigan over what I’ve been dealing with over the years:
- I remember many years ago… maybe when I was wee… I used to live in a ground floor apartment in the projects. Those of you unfamiliar with what “da projects” are, I suggest you take a trip to any major city and look for a grouping of apartment buildings where you say to yourself “Hell no I’m not walking through there” and viola… there you go. You’ve found the projects. Anyway, my bedroom was adjacent to the bedroom next door. This next door neighbor happened to be an elderly man suffering from some form of dementia or Alzheimers because he needed a nurse on call pretty much 24/7 to help him out. One of the things he had a tendency to do – frequently and at the oddest times of day and night – was scream bloody murder that the top of his lungs until he was eventually calmed down by his nurse. Now I was young. Real young. Young enough to not really understand what his issues were and the hardships that he was suffering through. This man terrified me for years with his nightly death howls until one day… they stopped. I was told later on in life that he had finally passed away. I was overjoyed that I didn’t have to be tormented by him anymore but it was only when I grew up that I actually felt really sorry for the old guy and what he must have went through. Oh well… such is life.
- Many many years later (and still in the GD projects) I had the totally fabulous fortune of having one of the neighborhood drug dealers shack up next to me. It was so everything I wanted in a neighbor. Pretty much every night I got to hear him either bang or beat up his live-in girlfriend. Can’t tell you how many times the cops were called. I can’t stand people but c’mon… beating up women is just so thoroughly uncool. It was also awesome that he would do his transactions in the hallway to my building and (lucky me) sometimes even in front of my door. Wicked huh? What could I do? I wasn’t about to dime him out and risk living in a war zone as a result so I did what I always do – tried to ignore it. One day (once again after a few years of torment) SWAT decided to raid his place, arrest him and toss away the key. Sounds like a fitting climax to the story, huh? Too bad I moved away the year before…
- When my wife and I were first seeing each other we lived together briefly in a 2 bedroom apartment with her (then) best friend. It was a tiny place and her friend rarely went out so you can imagine how difficult it was trying to get some alone time. Couple that with the enticing aroma of potatoes and cabbage that was ever present in the building’s hallway and that pretty much sealed the deal on us leaving asap. Oh did I mention that our super liked to come into our apartment whenever he liked? Yeah… that place was brilliant. And thus marked the beginning of our shared oddessy in trying to find a “decent” place.
- Lived for a while in the basement of my mother-in-law’s house. We converted it into an apartment and it was pretty decent. The neighbors were great because – you guessed it – they were her parents. We all got along so it was pretty dang cohesive. Course that all went to hell when we found out the foundation was buckling near the front of the house. A contractor was called in to jack up the house, knock down the bad foundation wall and pour a new one. Sounded like a good plan in theory. They certainly got the jacking up the house and knocking down the wall part right. Course it took them like a month or so to pour the actual new foundation wall. That’s right. You guessed it. We had nothing but tarps and vapor barriers separating where we lived from the creatures of the night (and I ain’t talking about skunks and raccoons). Thankfully my wife decided to go back to school so it was off to Waterloo at that point.
- Living on campus wasn’t too bad – at first. It was a brand new apartment complex right on university property. It was great for her because she really didn’t need to use her car to get to classes. Unfortunately we had a ground floor apartment and the building was new – which translates to the walls (and floors) were thin and not that soundproof. Don’t get me wrong. I know nothing is truly soundproof but the girl above of sounded like a bloody horse galloping about and she must have been exceptionally clumsy because she would drop things constantly. To one side of us we had a girl who felt the whole building needed to hear her Bollywood music during the day and to the other side we had a GD stairwell. Joy joy. When the administration said that they were raising the rent the following year (while not addressing some of the major concerns around the building itself) we hit the bricks yet again. The search continued…
- We found ourselves in the ghetto next – which was a step up from the projects where I started. The one bedroom apartment was a decent size, had a balcony, didn’t have to pay hydro and was on the 3rd floor of a 4 floor building. Looked pretty respectable at first glance but then we got to living there. Wow. Firstly, I have nothing against immigrants. I love ’em. They make the world go round. However when you get different nationalities cooking their native foods all at the same time in a building that has no ventilation in the hallways… it makes for a pungent smell the likes of which permeate through clothing and embed into your skin. It was awful. It was like baked garbage with a side order of ass. Not to mention we had a mother and child above us (again with that mysterious clumsiness disease) who dropped things all the time and a neighbor who liked to play booty bass at all hours of the night. The underground garage looked like a scene out of the Dawn of the Dead remake and the stairwells leading to it were dimly lit, wreaked of weed and often wound around blind corners. Not to mention we had your standard compliment of deviants, drug dealers/users and roving packs of rabid children found in any ghetto… so once again it was time to move on.
- We found ourselves in a duplex… or at least what was advertised as a duplex. It’s not really a duplex. It’s more like a 80 year old house that has a crappy wall separating the upstairs and downstairs units. We were tired of living the lives of nomadic gypsies so we decided to make the best of it. We were told that the upstairs neighbors consisted of a single mother and her two young children so we thought we were finally going to catch a break. Little did we know that the mother didn’t even stay there most of the time and was basically letting her two late teen children use the place as a flop house. Sex, drugs, and loud blaring music dominated the landscape from that point on. It’d be great if we were the ones having the sex, doing drugs and rockin’ out but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Did I mention that it was an 80 year old house and not a duplex? In case you can’t put 2 and 3 together that means shared ventilation, no soundproofing (as opposed to very little sound proofing) and absolutely zero peace. Long story short, after nearly bringing the landlords to court over the illegal activities going on upstairs the situation came to an abrupt end when (once again) SWAT descended upon the house. Having staked the place out for a number of days, they finally decided to raid upstairs. Why? Oh because the son was a convicted criminal and had stolen good up there. He disappeared before they arrived and he nor his family have been seen since. And these were the people who lived above us. Shall I even mention our next door neighbor? Of course. She apparently had a job as a professional sun tanner by day (and no I don’t mean she worked at a tanning salon, I mean she actually would lounge outside every day and sun herself – even when there wasn’t any sun). Mind you if she didn’t look an undead crackhead it may have made the situation somewhat tolerable. So she must have worked at night then right? You can say that. There has been much speculation about that. The people who run the pizza shop across the street say she was dealing drugs – heroine by the looks of her. The salespeople at the car lot next to them suspected prostitution based on the steady stream of cars that would be in the driveway at all times of the day and night. I personally think it was a little of both. Either way she was in league with the schmendrik upstairs so it made for a lovely experience on all fronts. I suspect whatever it was she was into caught up to her because one day moving pods were in front of her place and in less than a week she was gone. No for sale sign. No nothing. Just poof.
Maybe I’m a harbinger of bad tidings? Maybe I cast a bad luck aura around me that attracts miscreants like flies to shit? Who knows. Maybe there are good neighbors out there? I thought we had some for a year after the idiots vanished but then like a fleeting thought they were gone. Ee still reside in the same place. We have a good relationship with our landlord so it kind of offers us a lot of flexibility regarding the property. Plus the street theater is awesome. Some nights, if you listen quietly, you can hear the majestic sounds of the drunks as they make their way home from the Stampede Corral – the local country bar.
How about our new neighbors? Well let’s just say they deserve a post all their own. I don’t think I have the web space or time to start talking about them here…
All I do know for sure is that good neighbors are like the Neighborhood of Make Believe… they’re figments of your fucking imagination! If you’re reading this and have good neighbors, don’t believe it. They’re crazy as too. You just haven’t seen it yet (and hopefully won’t). If you still don’t believe it then perhaps you’re the crazy neighbors. You know how it goes. No one ever tells the crazy person they’re crazy. ;p
No Mr. Rogers. It is not a beautiful day in the neighborhood…