"What's wrong, bud?"
He has his long face on today, and it always breaks my heart whenever he wears it. He senses change coming. He sees boxes of various sizes take up valuable real estate on the floor, and multiply as more days pass. He notices that I leave for extended periods of time; a break in my routine of leaving for 8 hours a day and coming home for the night. He knows what's coming next. He'll hate me in a few days. He always does.
For years now, I've been trying to be the master at being a grown up. That means above all, taking responsibility and living with the outcome of my actions, be they good or bad. I try to make grown up decisions in the most grown up of fashions.
But know this, you do me wrong, don't be surprised that I just leave and never come back....
O, beautiful slum, we had such high hopes for you, and it was unfair of us to think that you more than what you really were. The whole ruse should have evaporated as soon as I walked on the floor of our new apartment. What areas of the floor that did indeed have padding underneath the carpet, felt uneven and hastily put together; poor craftsmanship that felt funny for the feet. Yes, o golden ghetto, your early '70s charm pandered to the side of me that still thinks its cool to live in a Three's Company gestalt, but your rotting fixtures, sliding closet doors that constantly came off track, shoddy plumbing that your so-called super (yes, lower case "s" on purpose!) refused to fix, appliances that haven't been exchanged since the Reagan Administration, and let's not forget the carpet that was installed by stoned chimpanzees have given me the feeling that whomever is in charge of this place, gave up hope years ago, and in fact left their rotting corpses hanging from some light fixtures in one of the empty apartments with a note pinned to their shirts- that says, "forgive me".
....sorry, let me reign that one in...
Previous drafts of this blog contained a long and protracted list of grievances against the place we were living in. But I'm bored with the griping and I want to move forward, so bullet points will have to do....
- The above mentioned cosmetic disaster of the place.
- This is a motorcycle town. Sure enough motorcycles are going to be a part of your life whether you like it or not. Not liking it because in town, there is an accredited vocational school that teaches motorcycle repair, and five of it's future graduates live in the apartment across the way. All drive motorcycles. All have the same early morning class.
- Having to pay for laundry. Big turn off.
- Oh...who's bright idea was it anyway to put CARPETING on the PATIOS?!! Two words for you geniuses: Hurricane Season. Do we have to pay extra for mold removal, or do you not care if we get sick?
- Neighbors like to get drunk and throw things on weekend, which leads me to....
- Cops called on a constant basis.
But all of these annoyances could be filled into a dentists' Dixie Cup compared to the swimming pool sized loathing I've cultivated for our so-called super. He was a text book douche bag. More importantly, he was a gun-toting, meth head of a douche bag. A gun toting, meth head, douche bag of a so-called super, with a Peter Pan Complex. Apart from his work truck which always had tools and it was doubtful that they were ever used, he possessed a Harley. Which wouldn't have been a problem if I didn't have children who needed to sleep, but he liked to keep it idling forever, ride somewhere for 5 minutes, come back, keep it idling again, take off for 5 minutes, come back and start over again. After about the third month of this ritual, it began to test our nerves.
He also possessed a modified Chevy S-10. Custom paint job, tinted windows, big fat chrome rims, straight piped and lowered to the ground with the help of a hydraulic drop kit installed in the bed of the truck. The vehicle was useless. Not a day went by where I didn't see him tinker with it in some way. It never left the property. Maybe because it was so low to the ground, it could barely make it over the speed bumps. He spent more time on that truck, his personal toy, than he did on the apartments. To the point of ignoring everything else. When asked for the tenth time to replace our dilapidated, luke-warm refrigerator, he told us, "Listen, I've got more important things to worry about, " then he turns back to tinkering with his useless toy truck. This was my neighbor.
One night, heavily inebriated, he decided it would have been a swell idea to rev up and idle his stupid little penis enhancing, useless toy truck while cranking up some awful classic rock station. I don't know, but I think he was trying to put the moves on a tenant that just moved in. He woke up my baby daughter. I went out to the porch. I said, "Hey! Could you turn it down? My baby can't sleep with this noise!"
He mumbled something incoherently.
"What?!" I replied.
"Well," he snarked through beer soaked breath, "If you can hear me, then it can't be that NOISY out here, CAN it?!"
Curses aging, pathetic, meth head, douche bag of a so-called super of a redneck ghetto, you got me there. Your stinging wit has claimed yet another hapless soul. I guess those years at Cambridge didn't go to waste after all. Douche bag. I hope you die of an unpronounceable venereal disease and they find you in a compromising position involving rubber appliances, face down in a pool of your own vomit.
I came to find out later from the afore mentioned new tenant, that he was showing off his gun to her; a shoulder holstered revolver. I don't know, but I think he was trying to put the moves on her. And everyone knows that flashing a loaded concealed weapon always makes the ladies SWWOOON!
I could have been shot that night. From that moment forward, my family was in danger. From that moment forward we weren't rent paying tenants, we were inmates. Let the record show that I no longer felt safe there. Yes, we may not have held up our end of the lease, but they let us down first. The longer we stayed, the more of a prisoner we felt like. Time to move on while we still had our souls and skins.
The caulk and fixtures need to be replaced in both bathrooms. I'd be willing to bet that this place was designed for people who ate out a lot. The kitchen is smaller than any apartment I lived in so far, which is kind of a drag; it puts a damper on pizza night. But, despite all of these nitpicky things, it's a house. It's in a quiet neighborhood; on certain nights, I can hear the ocean. The neighbors seem sane. And above all, it's a step towards independence. The older I get, the more I'm losing my taste for communal living. As the days progress, the longer I stay under this roof, the closer to sanity I feel. Even though I know we will never own this place, it feels more like home every day.
It's been a week, and boxes still linger and take up valuable real estate, this time on new floors. For the first few days, my furry friend has made himself scarce. I find his hiding spots, bring him out, show him around, show him love, then he goes and finds another hiding spot. For the first few days, he lost his appetite. He won't get it back until all is still and big things aren't making big noise. Soon, he makes his appearance. Soon, his tail will stand tall. Soon, he will find his appetite and his favorite place on the couch...curled up and purring with a full belly, next to me. Glad to be home.