My neighbourhood is a bit strange. On the surface, it seems normal. Some would even call it relatively ‘nice’. But lurking below the facade of normalcy are people who creep me out or just really annoy me.
There’s the 60+ Italian macho who walks around shirtless in the summer, with his dead wife’s black, miniature poodle under his arm so that it looks like he has one really hairy armpit. This poor little dog probably wishes that he, too, would have died a horrible – yet natural – death, instead of suffering under what can only be imagined as a smelly, sweaty torture chamber. For a while, he kept inviting me inside for a cup of roofie… errrr… coffee… with the explicit request that I not bring my dogs with me. Listen, asshole, we’re not friends, and I haven’t been this naturally blonde since I was 10, so who do you think you’re fooling? Plus, you’re so disgusting that I can’t even think about all the ways you gross me out because I might never be able to eat Italian food again -simply because of the association with you. And I like Italian food. He also walked up to my window once and shouted for me while I was in the back yard with my dogs. When I bumped into him later walking the dogs, he felt compelled to tell me this – like he was a friend, just stopping by. When I asked him what he was doing up at my window in the first place, he just smiled. I now have my curtains permanently drawn shut and white Bristol board taped over the glass panel on the door.
Although he doesn’t technically live in my weirdohood (that I know of), the guy who hands out the free newspapers to commuters at the metro station is motherfucking creepy. He’s old, but looks like the type who overpowers people with chloroform. He thinks that because he’s old, people will think he’s harmless – but I’m not fooled by his geriatric state. He makes uncomfortable eye contact with you – the kind of eye contact that a serial killer makes with the camera when he’s having his mugshot taken… because he knows the cops haven’t found all the bodies yet. Imagine, if you will, the French-Canadian version of the infamous Soviet cannibal, Andrei Chikatilo. Creepy.
There’s the elderly couple down the street, Gino and Gina – I am not making this up. My dog, Henry, is absolutely petrified of them. For no apparent reason. Just walking past their house evokes a sense of panic in the boy. The sound of Gina’s voice has pretty much the same effect on Henry that Mary Hart’s voice had on Kramer:
Gino tells me that there’s something wrong with Henry, he’s not normal, I should get rid of him. This is offensive to me. I know he’s a very nervous dog, like Woody Allen dipped in fur, but I couldn’t love him more if I gave birth to him myself. When I tell Gino things like that, he puts his head down and shakes it – as if he thinks I should be put down, as well. Secretly, I think that Gino is the real Butcher of Florence, and Henry senses that. There’s speculation that they never caught the right guy. What if the Butcher came to Canada and is living just down the street? Henry knows this, and Gino knows that Henry knows this, and that’s why he wants to get rid of Henry – in case Henry blows his cover. Maybe Henry’s keen sense of smell can detect the scent of cadavers, stacked in Gino’s basement. And who knows what – or who!- is going into Gina’s spaghetti sauce….
There’s the older lady who lives behind me who constantly whines about how she’s always strapped for cash… but then goes out and spends over $1000 on curtains/ blinds for her living room windows. When I mentioned that IKEA sells some really nice, very affordable curtains, she gave me a look like I just farted or something. No, lady… you want to know what stinks? You bitching about not having money and then bragging about your thousand dollar window treatments. That not only stinks, it’s stupid and annoys the shit out of me. She complains about how she never has enough time to enjoy her garden because all she ever does is work on it to maintain it. And when I suggest that she would have more free time if she maybe didn’t plant so much and just keep it simple, she looks at me like I’m this grotesquely disfigured being from another planet, speaking gibberish.
She also likes to point out my dandelions, in a passive-aggressive way: “Is that a dandelion over there?” Me: “Where?” Her (pointing): “over there…” Me:”Oh, maybe it’s just a buttercup…” Her:”no, it really looks like a dandelion….” Me:”Oh, well I’ll take care of it later…” And then I wait until it’s JUST about to fluff up before removing it… just to make her a little nervous.
There was the guy with the gimpy arm who lived around the corner. He’d always stop me and talk about nothing; harmless, but lingered far too long with the chitchat and didn’t respect your personal space so that you’d have to keep moving away, only to have him move closer, so that you’d have to keep moving away, and so on, ad infinitum. One day, on my way to the grocery store, I found an injured bird in the alley just behind his flat. Noticing my concern, he rushed down from his balcony and insisted on helping. Except that he practically crushed the bird and, then, instead of gently perching the bird on the top branch of a sturdy bush, he lets the equally gimpy bird fall to the ground, hidden amidst the bushes, probably trapped and immobilized. Although it was considerate of him to want to feed the stray cats, this was not what I had hoped would happen. Not at all. He moved away last summer. I try to avoid the alleyway now, just in case I find another injured bird – I have to accept that sometimes bad things happen to little birds and that I can’t go around taking care of the city’s wildlife… I’m already doing my bit for Mother Nature with my three turkeys at home.
And then, of course, there’s Litter Box lady, aka CrackWhore. She’s not a real lady, nor does she have litter boxes outside – it just smells like she does when you pass by her house, especially when it’s humid outside. She’s the neighbour that makes me look like I spend hours taking care of my property, when I don’t. Given the comings and goings at her place, I highly suspect that she’s dealing drugs out of her house – prostitution did cross my mind, for about two seconds… until I came to my senses and realized that nobody would actually pay to fuck this woman. Seriously. The major problem I have with this bitch is that she has children living with her. How child protective services has let her retain custody of these kids is beyond my comprehension. At one point, she had five living with her – aging from about 7 to maybe 15, barely a resemblance between them. The constant yelling at them, at her dogs, at whomever, is really a pain in the ass in the summer. Especially when she’s yelling in French. Her voice, and the way she speaks French, is the linguistic equivalent of dragging your fingernails on a chalkboard. How a language can be so torn apart and shat upon is beyond me.
When I was still living with Cocksucker (did I already give him a nickname, the long-term ex? I can’t remember… anyway, I’ll call him Cocksucker for now), he gave me shit for calling the police to report child endangerment. “Don’t get involved… it’s not our kid… the tree won’t fall on our house….” The quintessential altruist. Anyway, so Litter Box and her boyfriend were fighting while cutting down a huge tree in her backyard – maybe 40 feet high, while they themselves were high, starting from the bottom… while her 7 or 8 year old son was running around nearby. #1) You can’t just cut down trees, most are owned by the city, even if they’re on your property, and you need a good reason to cut them down, #2) You cut a tree down by first trimming the branches at the top, then working your way down – that’s the safe way to do it, #3) From where they were cutting it, it would have fallen on their neighbour’s roof and caused considerable damage, #4) Did I mention there was a child hanging out where this was going on?
Giving safety tips to people who are stoned and psychologically unstable is useless. Enter the police – they have a vest to protect them, and a getaway car. I live three houses down and don’t have bars on my windows. To me, this was a reasonable decision. The police came up my driveway, much to Cocksucker’s chagrin, checked that they were going to the right house, then rang her doorbell and proceeded to give her arboreal advice and common sense tips on how to protect minors from having trees falling on them.
Then there was the time when I saw her verbally abusing and physically threatening her teenage son on her deck, about to hit him. So I called the police again. Thankfully, 911 is only three digits. People still think that it’s only abuse if there’s hitting, so they do shit about verbal abuse. But I can speak from personal experience that the scars left by words and threats are deeper than the slaps and punches – because it fucks you up in your head forever and nobody can kiss away those boo-boos without some major psychological intervention. I wish I would have had neighbours who actually gave a shit when I was growing up… I might be a reasonably normal, psychologically healthy person today. Instead, I’m writing personal things about myself on the internet so that I can process the damage – and save time and money on visits to a therapist.
And then there was the 911 call I made just this morning, reporting a ‘domestic disturbance’ and the wielding of sticks. Imagine if you will, humming along to this song (which was pleasantly playing in my head) as you’re putting out your garbage because you were too lazy to do it the night before so now you’re doing it in your pajamas at 6:45 am:
It’s cool and cloudy, but you’re happy that you’re getting your shit together so early in the morning. Suddenly, you hear and see something that breaks your morning bliss:
An agitated man, standing on the sidewalk, yelling and flailing his arms at the Litter Box house. It’s wasn’t that much of a surprise, except for how early it was. That was unusual. But then I heard him say something like, “I hope someone breaks into your house at night and…” Couldn’t hear what he hoped that person would do because a car passed by just then and muffled the words. He said he’d stay all day in front of her house, yelling. And he was already on a roll, in both official languages, too – gotta give him credit for respecting the language laws.
After listening to this for a few minutes, to determine if it would escalate or not, I went inside and picked up the phone. The thought, “don’t do it, just stay out of it,” fleeted through my mind. But, nevertheless, I found myself dialing 911. Like I said, if there were no children living with her, I wouldn’t have bothered. Damned kids. See, I’ve been sort of fantasizing about a drive-by shooting for that woman for years. Even if it happened before my very eyes, I’d be all, ‘no officer, I saw nothing… I have no idea what happened….’ And I wouldn’t feel bad about it. But that’s probably because I’m just a horrible person who doesn’t ‘understand’ her and all her troubles. I’m judgmental. Problem was, I just saw the teenage daughter at her doorway yesterday, and I had this vision of some guys breaking in and hurting her. Maybe I watch too much Investigation Discovery, but things like that do happen.
So then I’m on the phone with the 911 operator, giving a physical description of both parties, and a play-by-play of the antics – I think I would be a fairly good sports announcer. She: Magenta hair, anorexic-looking, wielding a large wooden stick (the kind you use for building things, not something that fell from a tree). Operator: “How old is she, approximately?” Me: “Hard to tell, maybe in her 40s – she’s probably younger than she looks… she’s a wreck, really rough… looks like she’s been through hard times… she looks THAT age…” He: dark pants and grey or navy t-shirt, approximately 40. He backs away, she goes after him, they’re in the middle of the street, cars are going around them, she brings the stick up, threatening him, she walks back towards her house, he follows. She makes a lewd gesture, because she’s a classy gal. (I did not tell the operator that, because then I’d have to describe it: ‘well, it’s like when guys spread their legs open, bend a little and grab their crotch and say, ‘suck my cock….’ – I wouldn’t want that recorded for posterity.)
Sure enough, when the cops rolled up, the guy started to take off, but they managed to get him to come back. I don’t know what happened after that, but I do know one thing for sure: I am definitely going to be calling around for a new alarm company today. Because this weirdohood, although not ‘dangerous’ per se, has some really unpredictable characters living in it… and, eventually, they’re going to suss out that I’m the one who keeps calling the cops on their* crazy, motherfucking asses. (*: I once called the cops because a guy was loosening the part of the fire hydrant that the water shoots out of. Who does that??? But that’s it – so far. Maybe if people would just stop doing dumb, and/or dangerous shit, I wouldn’t need to turn into a one-woman weirdohood watch. I have enough shit to take care of without worrying about who’s going to fell trees, flood basements, start fires, etc.., near me.)