From the lesbian corner

20 11 2009

Being neighbors in the city is quite the paradox. You come to know personal habits of complete strangers without ever learning their names—like witnessing a neighbor sitting on their toilet through an un-curtained window. Instead of introducing ourselves, we make up names for them and sometimes stories.

After two months of partying, Mr. Braid is moving.  It seemed like partying anyway.  The front yard was set up with two picnic tables and random furniture. And the grill was lit every night while the men sat around the picnic table smoking and drinking beer. But I’m starting to think that maybe it wasn’t a party. Maybe his house was too full, and there wasn’t room enough to cook and eat inside because he had taken in a less fortunate family. 

But now it’s cold, and the party has ended. And Mr. Braid who was going to lead a crusade against dog owners who didn’t pick up their dog shit, has taken his picnic table elsewhere. He would always dream big when he was drinking and smoking at his picnic table. He’d call us over, Hey Honey. Hey Sweetie. He thought we were sisters. He’d tell us his next big plan. The neighborhood pig roast. The new park. Then he’d drive drunk in his Chevy truck. Now his house is dark and the Chevy is gone.

The only thing I ever saw of the neighbors that lived in the house before Mr. Braid was the constant glow of the big screen TV. For all I know, there might have been a corpse rotting on the couch. Mr. Braid was different. He’d actually come out of his house to plant tomatoes and play horse shoes. He even helped fix up the former crack house. Mr. Braid was the only neighbor who ever talked to us. Let us know when he’d be out of town. Invited us to his Pig roast. Returned our green bowl after the party. Offered to mow our lawn.

Maybe he’s the only neighbor that talked to us because he thought we were sisters instead of the scary lesbians on the corner.

The Catholics, our neighbors in the big black house, thought Mr. Braid was in a Mexican gang, because he had so many people over to his house. The Catholics come from New York—obviously not the city of. It’s not like he was flashing his colors and rolling up one pant leg. He doesn’t even have tattoos.

I don’t think they’re really Catholic, but they’re in their late 30’s and on their 5th kid. They listen to Christian music and talk to their kids about God sometimes. I think they work or volunteer at some food pantry. They don’t seem to have real jobs. They’re home at odd times. For a while, they home-schooled their children. When she had their last child, they were gone for a month. Jacks said that they had to go to Jerusalem to have their baby.

Mrs. Catholic dresses in organic, hippy clothes. Mr. Catholic looks like Dean Kane. I’ve rescued their runaway dog Scout a few times. We’ve given them a Christmas wreath and Christmas cookies. Now they have a homeless man living with them–the same man I called a bum. I think I may have offended them. But he was hanging out between our yard and their yard, drinking beer. Then he tried to climb our fence and threatened my dog. Mrs. Catholic hasn’t talked to me since I called the man a bum. He wasn’t particularly friendly. So I’m not up on my PC. But they thought Mr. Braid was a thug. So whatever.

We are sandwiched in between the Catholics and the Volvo drivers. They are buddies.  They made a special door in their fence, so they could share yards. Mr.& Mrs. Volvo are renting from the Christian Republican Dyke that moved back out West. She looked like a Dyke. Only ever had women friends over. Women friends that drove Chevy trucks and also looked like dykes. She was 40 and single with an old dog. She had spiky hair and stovepipe legs.  But she flew Easter flags and had a Bush Cheney sticker on her front door.

The new neighbors drive a Volvo and have 2 children. It seems like they might actually work. They keep their curtains wide open so you can see inside. They have a Tibetan peace flag hanging in their house just like the Catholics. Their living room is the same color as ours. Jacks said they copied our color scheme.

Mr. Nascar Roofer Man lives across from the Catholics. He drives a white work truck. Mrs. Catholic said he’s a recovering Drug addict. The Catholics and Mr. Nascar used to be friends, but they aren’t that close anymore. I don’t think the Catholics wanted their kids mixing with the other kids in the neighborhood. His wife yells at the kids a lot. The bums hang out on his stoop. He re-roofed his house last summer.

While he was on his roof, he had a conversation with Amelio’s Mom a block away.   I call her that because she is always yelling for AMELIO in her deep, throaty smoker’s voice. Her yelling doesn’t help any. Amelio is all of 5 years old and always plays in the street.  I almost hit him once. There doesn’t seem to be any problem with abductions in this neighborhood. The kids just keep coming back, walking through our lawn as if the sidewalk is an incidental piece of cement.

I have lived in this house for 4 years. Just last month, Amelio’s mom introduced herself as our neighbor. Well, no shit. We can only hear you yelling every fucking day of our lives.  Wish she’d fucking shut up for once. It wasn’t a social call. She was looking for some rakes that her sons had lifted.  Those rakes lay on our lawn for 2 weeks. Like I know where they’re at now.

Amelio’s Mom drinks beer with the Mexican family at the former crack house. There’s a lot of people living in that house. My favorite is the Alzheimer’s Grandpa. He’s always walking, pushing an unwilling child in a stroller. The teenage boys wear skinny jeans and skateboard. They watch Univision all day with the door open in the summer. Sometimes I can smell corn tortillas.

There used to be an African family in the former meth lab house, but they had to move. Apparently, the landlord lost the place, because the renters on top weren’t paying. Foreclosure takes a long time. The non-paying family still lives on top. Non-descript mixed couple with a new baby. Makes me angry that they are still there and the Africans are gone. They were quiet and kept to themselves and kept their lawn nice.

The obsessive compulsive lady on the other side of the Volvo neighbors drives a red minivan and rakes her leaves into the street every autumn even though everyone else pays for yard waste pick-up. She constantly sweeps her driveway. Sweep sweep sweep.

Every once in a while the little old lady that wears purple and drives a purple truck and lives in a purple house walks by. Not always in purple. But it’s always a 1 color outfit. Her house has been for sale as long as I have lived here. I suppose nobody wants to buy a purple house. I feel bad for her, having to live in this neighborhood and not being able to sell her house.

I’ve thought about making Christmas cookies this year to give to the neighbors. I don’t want to be friends or anything–just friendly. I want a neighbor that watches my shit while I’m out of town–a neighbor that would call the police if someone was sneaking through my window instead of filming it for Youtube. But I wonder if it’s really worth the effort. They might be worried that the lesbians are trying to poison them.  After all, I’m sure we’re known as the lesbians on the corner. Because I’ve never introduced myself and nobody has ever asked. Even Mr. Braid only knew us as Honey and Sweetie. And I only referred to him as Mr. Braid, because of the braid in his hair–even though I think his real name is Al.

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