Saturday, November 22, 2003

Please, God, Help Me

Since I have my PC up and running at home, but still no internet, I’ve been amusing myself with blogging at home and then saving the entries to disk for back-dating when I get to a computer.

I don't think I've talked much about my freakish neighbors, which is kind of amazing because I suffer daily at the hands of their weird and random ways. I should say first off that my landlord made a point to tell me, when I first moved in, that he did not want to be involved in any neighborly conflicts, and that if we had problems with each other, we needed to work them out amongst ourselves. I know that as a landlord, he should take care of problems, but he is a hard-headed little 80-year-old man, and I don't feel like arguing with him.

My next-door neighbor -- I have never bothered to learn his name -- is the King of Freaks at my apartment complex. He works very odd hours at Wal-Mart, sometimes graveyard, sometimes normal hours, and pretty much everything in between. He's got to be in his 40's, and he is not what I would call an attractive man. I personally think he's gross, but that's only because I know he is obsessed with porn and is a scary alcoholic, to boot.

A few days after I'd first moved in, it was something like 9pm and dark outside, when I heard someone come up my steps and knock on my door. My other neighbor had lent me his snow shovel to dig my car out of huge snow drifts and it had broken while I was using it. I'd left him a note saying I was sorry and that I would get him one to replace it (and hadn't, because Lowe's was sold out) and I was expecting him to come chat about it. So when I opened my door, I thought it was him at first, and I was friendly. Then I noticed the open beer can in his hand and the guy swaying a bit, and when I got a better look at his face in the dark (not thinking to just turn the porch light on), I realized I had some drunken stranger on my porch. This freaked me out.

It freaked me out even more when he said, "I was wonderin' if I could stop in for a bit."

I blinked and replied, "I'd actually rather if you didn't.."

I was afraid of some belligerent outburst, but he just said okay and turned around and walked off.

I have had to call the cops on this man twice. As I mentioned before, he keeps really odd hours, so it means sometimes he's up and in prime time when I need to be sleeping. He's fond of having buddies over, and they all sit around getting pissed and blasting the stereo. I don't care so much if he blasts it during the day or at normal times; if I'm up, I usually have music on and I can ignore it. But one night he'd been blasting the stereo since 1am, and when I went to bed at 3:30, the party was still going strong. This was not the first time he'd kept me awake with the stereo, and I was fed up. Particularly so when I laid in bed for an hour, unable to fall asleep at all due to the music next door. I know the guy is an alcoholic, and my 80-year-old landlord has told me to stay away from him, so I wasn't about to go over there at 4am to ask him to turn his music down. I got up and called the cops on him, which is a story in its own, but thankfully the stereo blasting has been mostly kept to decent hours.

Then, not long after, I happened to be coming from work and when I got out of my car, I heard the distinct sound of porn. At first, I was like, Uh.. that cannot be what I think it is.. but as I continued to listen, it was abundantly clear, amidst all the faked Uuungh!s and Oohh yeahs. I looked up to find the source of the sound and my next-door-neighbor's window was wide open. To make matters even worse, as I started to walk past his apartment, I immediately noticed that his front door, too, was wide open. I suddenly got the image of him sprawled out on his couch, probably facing the door, wacking off. It was too disgusting.

Then, the blasted porn, combined with the open window and door, became a regular feature of living here. I would be awakened in the morning to blasted porn, get ready for work with blasted porn, come home to blasted porn. It would go on for hours sometimes. And he almost always had both his windows and door totally open. At one point, I guess he began to realize wacking off with the door open and porn blaring might not be kosher, so whenever anyone pulled up in the parking lot, he'd click the video off. But as soon as it seemed the coast was clear, he'd click it back on, and just as loud. It seemed really wrong and gross, but I didn't know what to do about it. I mean, anyone walking by would be assaulted by porn.. and there are lots of little neighborhood kids running around.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't care about porn itself. If you want to watch porn, that's cool with me, and I admit I've watched it, myself. I just don't think I should have to be subjected to that all the fucking time. And the fact that he did it with his door and window open, that he could very well see me walk by whilst diggling his niggle.. that's just creepy and disgusting. I mean, close the freaking door, for god's sake!

Like with the first time I called the cops, I was too afraid to go talk to him myself, and it didn't seem like any of my other neighbors were particularly bothered; at least, no one ever asked the guy to knock it off. The cop actually knew him, so he didn't get angry or anything, and at least my life has been porn-free ever since.

I've been the only woman living in the building, and never is that more felt than when I run into Dozer. Yes, that is apparently his name. Dozer. He's got to be in his 40's, wears glasses, and is somewhat heavyset with a beerbelly. Again, not really what I consider an attractive man, though he has always been friendly to me. He looks just about as West Virginian as you can get, complete with red truck (with "Daddy's Baby" in red letters across the windshield), camoflage obsession, and a love of hunting. As far as I can tell, he lives with at least one other person, even though the apartment is only a small one-bedroom. I never could figure it out, what the living arrangement might look like inside; and during the summer, he even had his two kids living there with him.

The first time I met him, he came outside while I was attempting to dig my car out of the snow with a dustpan and asked me where my 'old man' was, and why he wasn't helping me. He then kept asking questions and talking to me until I was forced to tell him I was single. He then went on about how it was such a shame, a pretty face like mine, blah blah, and pretty much totally embarrassing me. I really wish I could have simply said, "Well, actually, I'm gay," but the rednecks around here generally don't cotton too well to us homos.

From then on, every single time I ran into him, it was "Hey, pretty lady" this and "Why, hello, beautiful" that, to where I hope he's not outside when I go to get into my car. Actually, he was gone for a while, at least a couple of months, and I was starting to kind of hope that it was a permanent move. You know, the less freaks I have to deal with, the better. But he just came back last month, he apparently was with his fiancee in Canada or something. But fortunately, I haven't been running into him much.

Then, the last of the other three units was Aaron, my landlord's grandson, just below me. Aaron was in his early 20's, not bad to look at, and also a very nice guy. He would occasionally do little favors for me, like bringing my trash can back from the curb before I had a chance, or mowing the area beside my porch. I liked that Aaron lived here, because he was one other normal person that I could count on.

But Aaron just moved out, which brings me great consternation, especially now because today I had the pleasure of meeting my new downstairs neighbor. She told me her name, but I forgot it, because once we were introduced, I was absolutely entranced by her utter and total freakishness. First of all, I worked a split today, and I had a couple of hours to just relax at home before I had to go back. I'd eaten lunch and was in the middle of a game of Starcraft when someone comes a-poundin' on my door.

When I answered it, she was on my doorstep, poking her nose around me to see into my apartment and looking very much like she wanted to be asked in. She was in her 40's or so and looked pretty grizzled. Not to mention she had like four teeth -- she kind of reminded me of those crazy bag ladies that sit next to you on the bus and then won't stop talking to you. I disliked her immediately and did not want to deal with getting her out once she came in. She asked me eighty billion questions, starting off with did I like living here, what's it like, what are the neighbors like, and then she started in on the personal questions. Am I married? No? Divorced or anything? 'Cause I'm divorced. Well, you must be seeing someone. No? Well, I can't believe that, someone as pretty as you.

And it just went on and on. Early on, she'd imposed on me, on my break, to help her move her fold-out bed inside, and she just would not shut up the entire time, she just kept babbling on and asking me a ton of questions. I did tell her about the roaches, and she fixated on that as something to worry over, whether she'd picked the right apartment, and she mentioned repeatedly that the landlord liked me, I suppose hoping I could sway him to get an exterminator to come out and spray. Though I did tell her that I've mentioned it a few times to him, and he just stubbornly refuses.

At one point, she bluntly asked me if I had a phone. I mean, on top of everything else, now this? I warily answered that I did and she then went on to not-so-subtly insinuate that she might like to use my phone for a few days until hers got installed. This woman just got more and more imposing and freakish as time passed.

I tried to get away politely, but she wouldn't have it. She kept talking and asking questions, and bending my ear while I stood there wanting to simply bolt. I finally started to get away and she stopped and asked me if she'd done anything to offend me. I told her no, but she continued on about it, and I again told her she hadn't offended me. I got back inside finally, sat back down and resumed my game. I had peace for about five minutes, when again I heard her climb my stairs and pound on my door.

I opened it and she said, "I'm sorry, I just.. Well, back when we were downstairs, what did you mean, when you were holding your nose?" she mimicked what I'd done, "Well, I was wondering if it was me or something, like, do you think I smell?" and then she lifted the lapel of her coat and sniffed her armpit. I stood there feeling like I'd stepped into the Twilight Zone.

The gesture she'd done to mimic my supposed holding my nose was exactly how I often scratch my nose. I have skin issues and I'm an itchy motherfucker, what can I say? I guess I can't even scratch my nose without offending someone. I mean, good god on a gravystick.

So anyway, I had to spend five more minutes of my time assuring her I hadn't meant that she smelled, and trying to get her to go away. Before I got away the first time, she'd said something to me about wanting to know the other neighbors because she wants friends, I told her that I just like to do my own thing and be left alone, knowing that was pretty blunt, but I wanted to make it clear that I just want people to let me be a hermit and leave me the fuck alone. I don't think that's too much to ask for, do you?

If my next-door neighbor is the King of Freaks, then my downstairs neighbor is their High Queen. She's not just a freak, she's a freakazoid.

I swear, people, you just wait until I get my mom's digital camera over Christmas. I'm going to take pictures of West Virginia, and you will all see that all the tales I tell you are the absolute truth. I mean, if Forrest Gump and Rush Limbaugh had a love child, it would be West Virginia.

One of the most ironically amusing things about Parkersburg is they actually have a sign up as you enter town that says "Parkersburg respects diversity." Every time I pass that sign, I go, "Ha!" Because people around here, in general, have no idea what diversity really means.

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