I have more than a few neighbors at the condo. They are nutty. Entertainingly so. (Really would be a good HBO pilot. I need to get on that.) Except for Nightmare Neighbor Charlotte. She's just nutty without the entertainment. Plus, we hate each other. She asks me every chance she gets when my lease is up. And I always tell her that I'm thinking of never leaving. You may or may not know about the banging of pots and pans, the slamming of anything slammable, and the dragging of dead bodies that goes on in her condo next door. You also may or may not know about her four (no more, no less, come rain, come shine) daily strolls around the parking lot which put her outside wandering in circles a lot of the day. I'm grateful for the walks, though. Less dead body movement. You may or may not know that she is the "condo street representative" and kills even more time typing up notes for people about things she doesn't care for. She passes these notes out on her strolls, putting them in our tubes (little mailbox cylinders under our business-that-matters mailboxes). Some of us have had full tubes about things she doesn't like. Keep in mind for later that ivy is near, if not at, the top of her list. Charlotte and slips of paper. All day, every day. Well, when she's not banging and dragging things.
Two or three months ago, she started entering my gate (I do leave it open, my bad, but funny, most people do the same, including ol' Char and who cares) and walking in my patio and looking at my foliage. Just staring. Perusing. Like one would do at a botanical garden, maybe. Admiring the flowers. Er, weeds. (I'm a renter, not a planter.) Right before I left for my trip, my godsend of a dogsitter was in my living room, and we were exchanging instructions and niceties. Char came up to the screen door like she wanted to join the conversation. "Someone's at your door." "Oh, Lord. That's my neighbor." I asked Char what she was doing, and she skeedaddled. Well, skeedaddled is the wrong word. She's 4 feet tall, 80 pounds, older than dirt, and sports Mr. Magoo eyeglasses, a cane, some kick-ass special shoes, and a hunchback (childhood polio). After she had finally gone, "Do you have issues with her?" "Oh, honey. I can't tell you about it all, because I have to leave in 4 days."
So, a day or two after cleaning Charlotte's nose print off my screen door, I was putting my trash out and she popped out from around the gate.
Char: I need you to keep your gate closed. Your weeds are embarrassing for my visitors.
Me: What visitors? You don't have any visitors.
Char: Well, that's your reality.
Me: I'm not closing my gate, because I let my dog out on the tie-out and need it open. For God's sake, FIND SOMETHING TO DO!!!!
Char: I have plenty to do, but there is thistle in your ivy!
There's what in my say what? I blew up. Blew the fuck up. I had had all I could stand. Let it all go. Stopped short of calling her a cripple. 'Cause I'm claiming Christian like that.
After it was over, I was clear that there were three things she needed: 1) a closed gate, 2) thistle out of the ivy, and 3) me not to let my screen door slam because she could hear it when she was in the kitchen or outside (which is 23 out of 24 hours a day, remember). There was just one thing that I needed: 1) For Char to DIE.
So, I happily prepared to leave for my trip that June 19th Sunday morning and guess what? Char's car was missing. For the first time in over a year. Did I mention that she never goes anywhere? Come to find out, the bitch had the audacity to go out of town the same day!!! Can you believe that? What a Universe. I could have enjoyed the break. (However, my dogsitter informed me that there were workers - and odd, questionable looking ones at that, one with a missing eye, or maybe it was a lazy eye, I can't remember now - at her house replacing her kitchen counters. That wouldn't have gone well for me either.) I told my Spawn about this and he said, "Oh, didn't you hear? Rumor has it that she's going to Boulder for some creativity event thing." Seriously, nobody loves me.
Oh, right, the reentry. The minute I crossed the Missouri River, the humidity was paralyzing. Windows up and AC on. The east. When I reached the Indiana border, I turned on the radio. Will never do that again. Menards commercials. Meijer sales. Broad Ripple. Ugh. Who cares. Picture sinking shoulders.
Then, at the complex, I wheeled my suitcase to my condo corner and saw it. My gate was closed. When I pushed it open, I saw that my ivy had been killed, pulled up, trimmed, you name it. Just a flurry of ivy activity. Some thistle was brown and dead and some was missing. And I was saving it!!! A piece of my little table right next to the perpetrated ivy area had been broken off and placed in a matching chair. The piece was mysteriously in the shape of a hand. A small, old, bitch of a hand. Then, I opened my screen door and noticed something shiny and new. A new spring-y thing. Installed and everything. And adjusted so the door can't close completely. She had work done!!!
But do I say anything? Nope. I let it go. For almost a whole day.
The next morning, workers had returned to her condo. I didn't expect less. I mean, you hire a man with one good eye to do some counter work, there are bound to be mishaps. So I headed to the store. Screaming kids, big huge fat Indiana families shopping in herds and huvarounds. Then. I made the mistake of a lifetime. I hope you're still reading, because this is the memory that I'll have on my deathbed and I'll need someone to pat my hand, virtually if necessary. I went to Qdoba for a chicken taco salad. I love Qdoba's chicken taco salad. I thought it might relax me. Make me feel better about apparently being roommates with the Indiana world again.
I pulled up into my parking space at the strip mall. Had my right hand still on my keys pulling them out of the ignition and had just started to open my door with my left hand. Two men, probably my age so knowing better, pulled up pretty quickly into the spot to the left of me. Pretty close, too. But before the driver came to a good stop, the passenger opened his door to get out. He turned his head in shock to see me (like what? there are other freeking people in the world?) and my door that he had just hit. I took the keys in my right hand, threw them up in the air a bit (as one does when they're at their limit), closed my door, and tested the Heavens (in the privacy of my own front seat) about what the hell else I could see today. The passenger man got out, stood at my closed window, and yelled, "You know, Midol might really help your attitude." To which I replied, "GO. Just GO. Please, just GO." But he wouldn't move. "I would've apologized to you. There's no damage. But seriously, Midol." Again, "GO. JUST GO."
Then, came his partner. Passenger man was a joy compared to this guy. Driver man came around the car, headed straight towards me holding his key like one would a pen they were getting ready to write with and said, "You are a fucking C*NT. How would you like it if I took this key and just ran it all up and down your face right now?" (There really is no answer to that question.)
The passenger man had moved to the right front side of my car near the strip mall sidewalk to go to Qdoba. I looked at him and said, "Nice choice in this one." And I said, to the c*nt man, "It must be hell to be you." (I know, genius, right?)
So, he said it all again. C*nt. Key. "Upside" my face. Then, he told his partner to get my tag number (what exactly did I do again?). I called him a moron - okay for the blog court records, a fucking moron - and that was the first time I thought he might really key "upside" my face. I looked for my phone to call 911, in case. His friend finally got him to leave. And as I drove away, I noticed a slew of people on Qdoba's patio. Families. Women. And several children. I'm sure the parents will never forget their kids asking them what a c*nt is.
That experience made me decide that I really needed to just start giving back to the world. And not in a good way. So, I wrote a scathing email (as a good passive-agressive does) to the homeowner from whom I rent and copied ol' Char. I told her that this was the final straw and that if the old bat didn't leave me alone and leave my stuff alone, I would call 911. The homeowner was livid, I was glad to know, because after all, I've been money in the bank. She called Char who denied all of it and said that she would be taking this issue to the condo Board to discuss. (I'd like to attend that meeting. "I've been staring at my neighbor and trespassing and messing with and breaking her stuff and she complained to her landlord. We need a letter....I'll put it in her tube.")
Then, I went to the Dollar Store (more punishment from the Indiana public, but it had to be done) and purchased the ugliest patio decorations I could find. God bless America patriotic stuff. And a lovely arrangement of fake red carnations in a plastic cemetery marker cup. Put it all around the gate. This now serves two purposes: 1) it keeps her grubby hands off my gate, and 2) it strokes her out that only she (and her imaginary visitors) can see it and that she can't NOT see it.
I think it's clear who won this battle. Right? I mean, if you ignore the fact that I've thought of little else since I've been back and spent a few countless hours recapping it here and to anyone who will listen to me, it's so clear that I won.
The third day, I spent rental house hunting online. I visited a top contender the next night and, after seeing the hot tub on the neighbor's deck about 20 feet away and hearing the thump-thump bass of a house two doors down, the conversation ended like this: "Will you clean and patch holes and make it rent-ready when you move?" "Uh, yea, I guess, if you want."
And that, my friends, is a reentry. Some might say this is karma biting me in the ass. Perhaps I deserve it for making fun of poor Charlotte. But, trust me, she is the devil, and I've been told she's been given to me as a gift of material. That's how I've chosen to look at her for my own sanity. And sometimes, people think I just make stuff up. Seriously? Nobody is that creative. I'll get a picture of her soon as Exhibit A for the blog court.
The next post will be a happier one about the exodus and the stay on the moon. And it could be even longer!! :)