Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Friday night

The cats need what I call their "midnight snack" so I go downstairs to feed them. That is when I notice a note slipped under our front door.


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Cackling Carl is having a Pride Party on Sunday. He says that we are invited, but admits to the fact that he is serving "cheap wine and cheap beer."

How vomitous.

He also asks if he can borrow some of our chairs, which makes me wonder: if he didn't need them, would he have invited us? And what kind of self-respecting gay man admits to serving cheap wine and cheap beer, with no mention of food? They should take his card away. As annoyed as I am, I am also insulted. He just assumes we're not doing anything on a Sunday afternoon?

Larry can be generous to a fault, having invited Carl over to our deck about five times for drinks and/or food. I'm still waiting for Carl (or his fugly, pot-smoking boyfriend) to reciprocate, so this note gets on my last Friday night nerve.

Suddenly, my mind races with disastrous possibilities: what if he somehow wants to borrow our BBQ or we end up having to do the cooking?

I think about throwing the note in the garbage, but know it is not possible. Larry wants to have a BBQ that day as well, so I'd need to think of a fool-proof plan to explain the missing note without admitting to have ever seen it.

The worst part of the note is the fact that Peter gave Carl permission to expand onto his deck, meaning that we'll have no buffer zone between our deck and Carl's freak fest. Carl's deck is only half the width of all the others, so he can only have about six people over before it gets crowded. However, this is not my problem.

I leave the note on the floor where I found it and go to bed.

The next day, I show the note to Larry, pretending to have found it while getting the milk from the fridge.

"Thank God he didn't ask to borrow the BBQ," he says after reading it.

I leave for Astoria, fuming at not being able to have a quiet BBQ without mingling with what I'm assuming will be freaky strangers.

Larry later calls to tell me that Brandon and Richard are coming over on Sunday, which makes me happy. But then he adds that Carl wanted to know if it was okay to allow people to "wander into our space."

"What the fuck? How many people is he having?" I ask.

"40." I almost slit my wrist with a piece of glass.

See, this is why I have been hinting that we build a wall of fast-growing bamboo plants on the deck.

The next day, I am not in the best of moods. The only thing that makes it better is the fact that we are having our own party, so we won't have to worry about cheap wine and cheap beer. In visualizing Carl's guests, I'm thinking the operative words will be "ugly" and "older." There will be no eye candy to peek at through my RayBans.

Brandon and Richard arrive. Larry predicts that Carl's party will be a flop and that no one shows up. Carl comes out and sets up some liquor on the table. He does not invite us or even speak with us. Either he's mad that he couldn't borrow all of our chairs or maybe he's just focused on the Schlitz and Zima.

If Larry offers Carl's guests anything to eat, I will beat him with a lawn chair. I refuse to feed someone else's guests. If Carl and his boyfriend can not afford to feed 40 people, then too bad. It's as simple as that.

Years of dysfunctional family holidays have turned me into a bitter, wannabe party planner.

At around 5:00, a few guests arrive. They are boring, old, and ugly. Larry waves to them, ever the diplomat. They do not wave back.

Surprisingly, a lot of people show up, and, as predicted, there ain't a looker in the bunch. Zero eye candy. Several of the guests are nosey neighbors who want to see our duplex. Like the KnowItAll.

This is a woman that I can't stand. As her name implies, she knows everything and is not afraid to tell you. She has lived in the building since the Civil War and this makes her some kind of authority on everything from construction to tenant disputes.

The KnowItAll loves the apartment, but Larry doesn't love her spending so much time snooping around. He cranks up the music on the stereo to get her to leave.

Outside on the deck, KnowItAll says to me, "Ooh, I see that you have a grill - but I won't tell anybody." This thinly-veiled threat is motivation for me to have this hag eliminated immediately. Who the fuck is she to say anything when her host also has a grill?

In the kitchen, Larry hints that we may offer food to some of the guests. I tell him that this is a BAD idea. Worse than Glitter. Remarkably, he agrees.

My stomach turns when I spot The Giggler, known to the rest of the building as the coop board president. He giggles a lot when you talk to him making small talk very awkward. He was the inspiration behind my new game Leave Me Alone Because I'm on The Phone.

I rack my brain trying to remember why he shouldn't see our apartment and hope that he doesn't ask.

I go inside to bring some plates into the kitchen. From what Larry would later tell me, the Giggler attempted to simply walk right into our apartment without us looking. Larry escorts him in.

He is impressed, as most of the nosey neighbors are. "I didn't know you have a cat!" he says in the kitchen.

"We have two!" I say, proudly. I am waiting for him to say something, anything about pets in the building so that I can remind him about the guy whose 50 year old dog pees in the elevator.

Back outside, I sincerely want to die. I am not having fun at all, because most my time is spent worrying that someone will leave the door open and let the cats out.

This is where the evening takes a nosedive. As if it couldn't get any worse.

Larry recognizes a former neighbor in Carl's yard and goes over to talk to him. I am alone with Brandon and Richard when a man "wanders into our space."

"Are either of you named Ralph?" he asks.

"No," they say. Brandon and Richard introduce themselves and, rather than apologize for the confusion and leave, the Drip sits down at our table.

The Drip's white messy hair, round glasses and facial hair make him a dead ringer for Albert Einstein. As you might have guessed, the Drip is the most boring person alive.

He begins to tell stories as though he were being interviewed by the New York Times. His slow, deliberate, intellectual speaking manner is riddled with pauses and "ums" and "uhhhs." Suddenly, the three of us are held hostage by this boring stranger who has no idea how rude it is to dominate the conversation with boring stories regarding people who's names mean nothing to anyone.

"Do you know Such and Such?"

We shake our heads.

"Well, such and such wrote a book about blah and blah-blah and went on to make, um a movie, about, um blah-blah-blah. It was often said that the symbolism blah-blah-blah..."

I want to yell out, "Get the fuck out of here, you boring son of a bitch!" I look over at Larry, hoping that he will soon come to our rescue to throw him out.

In my mind, this is all Larry's fault. He was the one who moved the flower pots so that there was no barrier to keep people out of "our space."

Larry comes back and the Drip just continues to talk, droning on and on. He looks at me and I just shake my head.

Larry engages the Drip in conversation, telling him that he looks like Albert Einstein. The Drip claims to have never heard this comparison before, yet admits to being compared to Steven Spielberg, which I really don't see.

One of our neighbors had earlier tipped us off to something juicy. In the building across the courtyard, lives an exhibitionist with a hot body. He pointed to the apartment with the blinds raised. How we never noticed this, I'll never know.

I was wondering if he had been screwing with our heads when The Exhibitionist walks up to his large picture window and takes off his shirt. While we are looking.

We gasp in tandem and start to laugh. Larry claps. I tell him, "No more TV, Larry! We're watching this from now on."

Unfortunately, the Drip misses this and turns to see. "Where? I didn't see anything."

"Go home, Einstein," I mumble under my breath.

The clouds start rolling in as I look up at the sky and hope for it to rain - hard. Our guests will easily fit in our apartment, but Cackling Carl will have to contend with 40 boring, ugly, smelly, wet people crammed into his apartment. This would be a fitting punishment for a man I really, really hate now.

It doesn't rain, but the wind picks up and blows The Drunk onto "our space."

The Drunk is about 75-80 years old. He wears rainbow suspenders, a teal shirt, plaid shorts, plaid canvas shoes and a red hat, as well as huge red sunglasses. He also wears a rainbow scarf. I try to contain my rage as he sits down in the seat next to the Drip. Somehow they know each other. They must have performed in the same traveling circus back in 1949.

As the Drunk speaks, I wonder how much of the slurring is alcohol, and how much of it is brain damage.

With the Drunk spitting all over our table, I look to the heavens for help. You know they say that if you concentrate hard on something to happen, it will work.

Unfortunately, there are no 747s with loose engines flying overhead.

The Exhibitionist appears in his window once more and both the Drip and the Drunk turn around to watch while screaming and carrying on. I wish I was a ninja, able to fly across the table and snap their necks without anyone seeing a thing.

It's getting late, which means it's time for coffee. Inside the apartment, Larry tells me that we will have the coffee inside, away from the Drip and the Drunk.

Finally, the Drip leaves, but the Drunk stays. Larry changes his mind and brings out four coffee mugs. Three are matching and one is an ugly mug that we never use. In trying to get inside Larry's head, I imagine that we will give the ugly mug to the Drunk and throw it out when he leaves.

The Drunk takes Larry up on his offer and ends up with one of the good mugs. In my head, I try to remember to "accidentally" break it at the end of the night. It's a Corelle mug anyway. Not hard to replace.

I lean over to Richard and whisper, "Anyone who asks me how my weekend was will live to regret it."

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