Saturday, June 4, 2011


A continuation of ‘when did other people’s marital problems become mine’

In January 1997, I packed up Serena, my one-year-old toy parti-poodle, and everything that would fit in my 1992 Plymouth Colt – after having sold everything else – and moved to Washington, DC.  My friend Christian, whom I had known since the early 1980s, told me to stay with him until I found an apartment.

A funny story. In all the time I knew Christian, I always wanted to say something after he introduced himself, but the situation never materialized until we went to a Christmas party later the year I moved to DC. We walked in, and he introduced himself to the host, “Hi, I’m Christian.” Then I walked over and said, “Hi, I’m Jewish.” We laughed until we pee’d then we laughed at that.

But I digress …

Christian was renting an apartment in the Mount Pleasant neigborhood of DC, a garage-level, one-bedroom with a back patio we nicknamed the graveyard and no laundry hook-up but with a dishwasher and central air. This was during the height of “Coffee Talk” on SNL, so we were doing all the “The peanut is neither a pea nor a nut, discuss …” “A basketball is neither a basket nor a ball, discuss …” when I said, “Mount Pleasant is neither a mount nor pleasant, discuss …” and we laughed until we … you get the idea.

The “Mount Pleasant is neither a mount nor pleasant” line became a 12.5 year running joke because guess who moved out of that apartment and guess who stayed within a week of his arrival? Christian moved in with his drunk, pathological liar, sexually addicted … never mind, and I took over the apartment and stayed there 12.5 years (I keep telling you 12.5 years because I cannot believe I stayed there that long).

Where do I begin? I had to get a portable washing machine and wheel it to the sink all that time. I did not have a driveway or garage, so my car looked as if it had been in the demolition derby because of street parking and the non-English speaking alta cocker across the street who would move his car every hour and hit all the other cars. One morning, he parked in front of my car with his still in gear, and I couldn’t move my car because his kept rolling into it.

I couldn’t go out to the patio/graveyard because of the rats, and there was a crack in the foundation, so moisture was a problem. But as I stated in my previous blog, I’ll put up with anything.

If you knew the dump I grew up in, you would understand my tolerance. My next blog will be “Did You Hear about the Gay Jew Who Grew Up in a House in Hell and Lived to Tell about It?” Talk about a dump. The sad part is that when I was living at home in Newport News we were always under threat of foreclosure – as if any bank would want to be saddled with that crappy house. We also never were allowed to answer the phone because it might be a bill collector.

When I first moved out on my own, my phone rang in my new apartment, and I didn’t know what to do. I picked it up, and I just breathed. I think it was the first time someone phoned an obscene caller.

My father used to say we had to do $10,000 worth of repairs on the house before they would condemn it. Thank you. I’ll be here all week. Tip your waitress. Don’t order the fish.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the neighbors.

The first two were a gay man and his straight woman roommate who wore spike heels along with their two barking dogs. The dogs never wore heels, nor did the gay guy who weighed in at 300 lbs. She weighed 300 lbs as well. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it gives you an idea how heavily they walked across the hardwood floors. 

They never fought, just made a lot of noise. She eventually moved out, and he would get twinks to watch his place and walk his dogs when he traveled. They would never show up, and the dogs would whine all day and night, so I ended up taking care of them again and again when he would go out of town. I kept suggesting kennels, but he kept hiring no-show twinks. He did eventually have two responsible house sitters – a woman and her young daughter, but they would scream and fight all the time when they stayed over. They also had a habit of dropping everything on the floor.

Six years later, he moved out, and the landlord said she found new tenants he recommended, a woman and her daughter. You guessed it. And they brought their small dog – their 90-pound small dog who barked more than the other two combined.

They would yell, scream, crash and bang. They dropped everything on the floor (didn’t I just say that?), and just when things couldn’t get worse, her estranged, drunk, self absorbed, loud British husband moved in. He had one of those deep British voices you could hear in the next county. Now all I heard was screaming, yelling, crashing, banging, cars banging into garage doors (they had use of the driveway and garage, which backed up to my bedroom closet), more screaming, hitting, yelling, and what I suspect was the occasional gun shot, and I put up with it until ….

One day, I lost it. I marched upstairs, knocked on their door and told them one more sound and I was calling the police. And I yelled, “Get F----g counseling!” She had the nerve to complain she could hear me laugh and sneeze. Really, laugh and sneeze!?! I think those two things are more tolerable than yelling, screaming, shooting, hitting …

They were so loud that all the neighbors on the street could hear them, and everyone asked me how I put up with it. As I said, for a low enough rent, I’ll tolerate anything.

Again, someone else’s marital problems became mine.

Then, the pompous queen next door rented out to a bunch of twenty year olds who threw a party every weekend. I complained because no one could get any sleep and called the pompous queen to have him talk to his tenants. They got mad at me for complaining and kept on throwing parties.

They complained about me, the quiet one. The one who never threw parties or yelled or for that matter shot someone. I don’t even own a stereo. I hate noise. I hate screaming and yelling. I don’t even like loud music. I grew up in a house full of screaming and yelling, and I don’t like to be around it. I often think of Anne Bancroft’s line in Torch Song Trilogy about how she grew up in a house full of screaming and yelling, so she never screamed and yelled … or something like that.

After the longest time at one address, and ironically the worst place I ever lived, I moved to Rockville. When I moved, my friends never said, “Where?” they said, “Thank God!” No one wanted to visit my apartment in Mount Pleasant because of all the noise … and the occasional shooting victim on the sidewalk. Seriously, the first night there in 1997, someone was shot out front. The last week I was there, someone was shot out front.

I forgot to tell you about the guy screwing a hooker on my patio one night. He parked his AMC Hornet out front, took her up to my patio and screwed her right there. I came home to find them mid-coitus. Did they stop? No. Did I stop them? No. The guy was driving an AMC Hornet, so I figured he must not get laid often (I drive an AMC Spirit), so I stepped over them and went inside. By the time I had opened the door again to walk Serena, they were gone.

So, I moved to Rockville Town Square, a multi-use development that allows dogs and has parking. Living in a multi-use development is like living in the middle of a goddam parade. Every weekend there is a festival or marathon or some other crap catering to unhappy couples and their rotten kids.
Serena lasted six months before she gave up and died at age fourteen. Four months later, I adopted an eight-year-old rescue Beagle, I have named Esmeralda, who is so frightened by all the noise outside that I have to walk her in one of the adjacent neighborhoods before she will go to the bathroom. I feel the same way.

Did I tell you there is a fire station next door? You guessed it. I cannot open the windows because every ten minutes the sirens go off.

And I managed to end up with fighting neighbors again. These two argue, hit, threaten and scream and yell and throw each other against the wall that abuts my bedroom. They are a combination of every couple I have had the pleasure of sharing walls with for more than a quarter century. This morning, the missus came home at 5:30 am, carrying her shoes and wearing last night’s dress. I am counting the minutes before she starts calling him racist names and begs him to hit her. “Go ahead, hit me.” I think she hits him, but he doesn’t hit her. He does choke her during sex. I know because I hear everything. I also heard her say she was going out and was surprised he wasn’t going to stop her. From what I hear every night, I am guessing he gave her cash to tip the go-go boys just for some peace and quiet.

And now you see why I am moving away to a quiet little town near a prison and a Walmart, into a small home that isn’t attached to anyone. And if I get sick of living there, I’ll just hitch it onto the back of my 1982 AMC Spirit and become a free Spirit. Pun intended.

Now, enough with the past. My future in home mobility, I mean Mobile Homedom, is soon to begin!

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Thank you,

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