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May 10, 2005

Please ... won't you be my neighbor?


This is my neighborhood. Peaceful looking, isn't it? Idyllic. Placid. Just row after row of green, leafy tree-lined streets with charming, small World War II-era bungalows.

Now, meet my neighbors, the crackheads who set their own house on fire this weekend:


So of course it's story time! Gather 'round. Get a cup of coffee. This is a long one.

When I left the Studio City condo and found my own place to live, I wasn't the least bit excited. Moving day was five days before Christmas. Christmas, ya'll. And it took NINE hours to move my crap from the three-level condo into the teeny new house. NINE hours and a thousand dollars.

By the end of the marathon moving day, I had boxes piled from floor to ceiling, the bed frame didn't fit in the bedroom, and my cats were still back at the old place waiting to be caged and brought over. I looked at my checkbook, looked at the boxes, looked at my grimy clothes and sat down and bawled. Which is when Rebecca showed up. And then my crackhead neighbors showed up.

Rebecca is one of my closest friends. She's Canadian. I LOVE Canadians. And I adore Rebecca. She's very classy, and also very reserved. Polite. Good manners. A good friend. As she sat on the back patio of my new house with me and plied me with beer and smoking and let me wail and cry, we heard the doorbell ring.

My new doorbell. At my new house. Where I was crying and also dirty and also drinking a beer.

I ignored it for the first few times, and then I heard someone OPENING THE SCREEN DOOR of my new house, and heard a strange couple of voices saying, INSIDE MY NEW HOUSE, "Hey hey hey! Is anyone home?"

And this is how I met my neighbors, Crackhead Bob and Drunken Julie.

They came inside and Rebecca tried to cut them off at the pass as I dried my eyes with my shirt, making myself presentable for neighbors who, as it turns out, are complete fucking psychos. I realize this quickly as they are standing, uninvited, in the middle of my new house doing the following:

1) Stanking like a beer keg. They are drunk, and I mean the smell like a stale brewery pissant kind of drunk. In my new house.

2) The woman, Julie, has a cigarette! In my house! I have never smoked inside a house maybe ever in my whole life. But especially not someone's new house! A stranger's house!
Drunken Julie: Oh ok. (Throws lit cigarette on my front patio.)

3) Before even introducing themselves, they start walking room to room looking at all my stuff saying helpful things like, "You'll never fit all this in here." and "Shit! Look at all the stuff you have!"

Then Julie, the drunken neighbor welcome wagon, fixated upon me and somehow realized through her beer-breath haze that the more she pointed out my many boxes and my tiny rooms, the more watery and teary my eyes became. And boy did she love that. She started talking about how she knows, she KNOWS!, how hard it is "around the holidays." How tough Christmastime can be. Especially when you are ALL ALONE.

Drunken Julie: Oooooh, you're getting upset!

Me: (sniiffff) I. Am. FINE. Thanks for stopping by!

Julie: It's ok. I just went through a terrible divorce myself.

Me: WHAT? I'm sorry. Do you know me? How do you...?

Julie: Oh your landlord told us.

Me: Did he send out a memo or something? What the fu...?

Julie: Oh it's ok, I mean, I understand, I do.

Me: OK, thanks! Well, glad you stopped by! [I move closer to my front door.]

Julie: I mean... Bob's family and my family don't agree with our relationship, either. But love will find a way.

Me: Oh, ok. Well, nice to meet you!

Julie: They don't agree with us, but we're together anyway.

As I try to forcefully show them out the door, drunken Julie turns to Rebecca, my classy, reserved Canadian friend Rebecca, and says the following:

Julie: They don't approve of us because we're cousins.

Did ya'll catch that part? Two seconds after meeting me and Rebecca, this complete drunken stranger has just told us that she and her drunk boyfriend ARE COUSINS. And they are IN MY HOUSE.

Then Rebecca tuns to me and says silently with her pleading eyes: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAKE HER GO AWAY BEFORE I VOMIT.

Then Julie, who hasn't read Rebecca's silent, pleading eyes of dispair says: "The guy next door to you is divorced too. Oh, and did you know your neighbors in the yard behind you have two pit bulls? BIG ONES!"

So then I started crying and Rebecca made Crackhead Bob and Drunken Julie leave, at which point Jennifer arrived to find Rebecca horrified and trying to wash her hands (but unable to find soap or a towel) and me crying and boxes everywhere and no cats.

Jen: What on earth...?

Rebecca: Oh. My. God. NEED SOAP. FEEL DIRTY.

Jen: Uh...? I brought beer. What is going on?

Me: Apparently my landlord put out an APB in the neighborhood and now I live on the corner of Divorce and Incest Streets, and I'm one block away from Pit Bull Avenue. And I am dirty and my cats aren't here and I cannot find the toilet paper ARE YOU HAPPY? And there is no soap AND THEY ARE COUSINS.

So that is the story of how I met my neighbors from two doors down. And after meeting them, as you can imagine, I was in not at all interested in meeting the rest of the neighborhood. I just kept to myself, stopped answering the doorbell and avoided eye contact with everyone on my street.

All that changed on Sunday when the whole neighborhood was awakened at 2:30 a.m. to Crackhead Bob yelling drunkenly to himself as he tried to put out a raging fire in his house with a garden hose. He just stood in his front yard, beer in hand, didn't even call 911, and waved around the garden hose as flames were leaping from the windows. Before the evening was over we had 37 bazillion fire trucks and lots of curious neighbors out on the street. And all day Sunday the neighborhood was a'twitter with "What on earth...?" "What happened there?" "Are those people always drunk?" I must have met every dog-walker, nice old lady and soccer mom on the block.

And we all wanted the scoop. The full story on the fire of Crackhead Bob & Drunken Julie's house (which by the way has the worst yard in the neighborhood, as several folks pointed out.)

So, you know me. Ya'll know how I am.

I got in my car and drove off to the grocery store and as I was driving down the street I just so happened to pass by the crack den on my way. Bob, beer can in hand, was sitting on his front steps.

Me: Hey, are ya'll ok? What the heck happened last night?

Bob: Well, my drunk girlfriend was with her boyfriend, a guy she met in rehab when she was supposed to be getting sober, and I went on the roof to hide from them and then my house caught on fire.

Me: Ok! Well glad you're all right! Bye!

Perhaps it's best if one does not know the sordid details of one's white trash neighbors, after all. And when did this become Encino, ARKANSAS? Are my neighbors building a meth lab? Or are they just retarded?

Please won't you be my neighbor?


Posted by laurie at May 10, 2005 12:09 PM