Saturday, December 8, 2012

On being neighborly.

As far as neighbors go, I'm pretty great. For the most part, I keep to myself, don't have any wild parties, cook normal-smelling meals, ensure that my dog's feces remain in the proper areas, etc. I'm also fairly friendly; I'll interact with you politely and will, on occasion, even talk for extended periods with you. Sometimes, GASP, I will even become friends with you. The couple that shares a divided balcony with us is actual on a first-name basis with us, although Three frequently forgets the man's name*, which is currently a long-running joke with the four of us. However, I cannot say the same nice things about everyone in our complex.

I've been in the apartment scene since I was 19 years old, so having bizarre neighbors and terrible landlords is nothing new to me. Back in college, I lived across the parking lot from a drug dealer, who seemed to think everyone else was oblivious to the fact he had "friends" come to his place for fifteen minutes at a time. Now, apparently, the landlord had no idea what was going on (or else had Academy Award training) because, when the guy was stabbed and sent to the hospital after a drug deal went bad, she was all, "OMG, HE SEEMED LIKE SUCH A NICE GUY!"
"I mean, he had never left his apartment for a job or for a class or anything and yet always managed to have rent money. I just thought he ran an internet store full of Beanie Babies or something!" - actual quote
Then there was the cat lady, who had adopted all the stray cats in my college town. And also the LARPers who lived downstairs who held tournaments inside on rainy/cold days. Ahhh, the good ol' days.

Actually, I would take all of those people, plus other ones that I can't remember off of the top of my head, in exchange for the rest of the people I'm forced to live close to. Well, most of them, anyway.

I've already posted about the bitch who let her fucking rat terrier bite my dog, and she and I have regular run-ins on the tri-daily walks I take Zola on. She actually snarls at me, but mostly, she keeps herself and her little shitface of a dog away from me. But she's not the only one who has reactions about Zola. There's an Indian man who hates my dog. Not just dislikes, but actively despises her. I don't really understand it, either, since she's never once gotten very close to him. She just kind of looks at him oddly whenever we pass, and he scowls at me and then her and says, "You keep that bastard away from me." I've asked a couple other dog owners in our complex about him, and they roll their eyes.

"He's that way about every dog," another neighbor told me. He owns quite possibly the cutest dog on the planet, a little shih tzu that essentially looks like this all the time:
And he never barks and is scared of moving leaves. Seriously. From A Place to Love Dogs.
Neither of us can understand what this dude's problem is, so we both came to the conclusion that he's crazy. But then I start to wonder about a lot of the other immigrants who live here that are terrified of Zola (and all dogs, I guess). There's one lady from Iraq that will go completely out of her way to make sure that she is as far away from Zola as possible, even when she's carrying about ten bags of groceries. I mean, the asshole guy may just be insane, but the others, almost all of whom are women, will all but scream and run away whenever they see her. With them, I try to be polite and walk Zola because, from what I can gather, this is a cultural thing and perhaps a PTSD thing.

And then there's Neighbor A, who I have purposefully avoided talking about because he creeps me out that much. He loves Zola, almost to an obsession. He talks about her like she's his girlfriend. For example, this conversation:
Neighbor A: Ahhhh, hello! How's everybody doing today? How are you, Zola?
Me: We're fine. She really has to go to the bathroom, A. I just got home and she hasn't peed in about six hours.
Neighbor A: Oh, well, okay! I'll come with you! Zola, I just want to make sure that you get everything you need! You're a beautiful girl that deserves the best! Let's find you the best pee spot in the world!
Me: ...
Zola: havetopeehavetopeehavetopeehavetopeeaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Neighbor A: (as Zola is peeing) Zola, when's your birthday? I want to get you something, like a diamond-encrusted collar. Does that suit your refined tastes?
Me: Seriously, her collar is fine.
Neighbor A: She might not think so.
Me: A, she's a dog.
Zola: Peepeepeepee pooppooppooppoop pet?
Neighbor A: Do you need me to watch her sometime? I could take her out on the town.
Me: No, thanks. We have to go inside now.
Neighbor A: Alright, Zola. Give me a kiss!!
Get away from me and my dog, you creeper. 
This man is ... interesting. Three met him first, while he was walking Zola, of course, and then I had the opportunity to do the same a few days later, also walking Zola. Neighbor A asked Three the next time he saw him if 1) I was his sister and 2) if he could play with Zola for an hour. I was definitely creeped out by him already, since he spent the whole time staring at my chest, but Three was determined to befriend the guy, who just seemed lonely. This determination lasted until Neighbor A told Three that watching Zola poop was the highlight of his day, since "she seems so happy," and insinuated that it turned him on. I can't remember the exact wording, but I nearly threw up when he said it.

Now, Neighbor A is also an aspiring music artist and has been trying to get Three and me to listen to his artistic endeavors. Since I avoid him at all costs, Three has been the one to actually agree to go over to his apartment. He was over there for about forty-five minutes, and when he came back, he closed the door and just started laughing hysterically. He described it as "black metal folk music sung in the style of Keebler elves." I feel a bit bad about mocking him on what he has called his life's work, but really?
How he got the lead guitarist of the band who played for Robert Plant and Alison Krauss to play on this album, I'll never know. (And Three verified that his claims were true.)
Anyway, moving on. Before we moved into our smaller apartment, we lived above a Pakistani family that, despite being some of the nicest people on the planet, had two major problems: 1) Their food at times smelled amazing and made me want to go down there to ask for a few pointers; other times? It smelled like feet that had been sitting in sewage all day. 2) Their children seemed to have this ability to run on the ceiling. To this day, I cannot figure out how they did it. However, I would take all of that in exchange for our new downstairs neighbor, who we'll call Frat Girl. How she hasn't been kicked out of the complex yet is beyond me. She has had more parties involving frat boys and her server contemporaries than I have had in my entire life, all of which take place at the most inopportune times. Like 3A. I have called our courtesy officer plenty of times, and she has had the gall to argue with him every time. Granted, she's been drunk and/or high each time, so whatever. Makes sense. Once, she was leading a Drunk Treasure Hunt, where they were basically making up treasures as they went along. One guy knocked on my door and asked for a pine cone, and when I told him I didn't have one, he asked for sugar for his absinthe. That wasn't so bad since it happened on a Saturday night when Three was at work, and it was a little entertaining to watch them scramble around for no reason. Also, she has some of the worst taste in music ever and sings (out of tune because, of course she would) it at the top of her lungs all. damned. day. Yesterday, it was Skrillex**, and how in the hell do you even try to sing to that, anyway? The other day, it was early 90s club music, and prior to that - and I think I was just angry because she was SO. BAD. at singing - she chose Weezer's blue album. But because dubstep bothers me much more than the others, I finally just went down there and was like, "Look, I get that you're home alone but seriously, if you're going to abuse my ears, at least take some singing lessons and choose better music." However, she was high, so she probably doesn't remember even talking to me. Or maybe she thinks it was a dream.
Whatever.
Lately, Frat Girl's been laying low, other than her at-home karaoke attempts, but I think that has more to do with the fact that the office called her father (who is her co-signer on the apartment) after four noise complaints. I've met her dad, who is a very, very imposing Russian dude. And I think her boyfriend probably nixed her having fifteen dudes (there were never any other girls at these parties) coming over to her apartment for drinking/drugging/sexytiming events. I can't say that I'm too upset about that.

And then there's our newest addition to the building, who we'll call Spikey Hair Lady. She moved in a few weeks ago and seemed okay. She was very friendly and super appreciative when we offered to help her move some of her furniture; she only had one other person helping her and Three is kind of built for this sort of thing. She was a little obnoxious and loud, but meh, I would be annoyed too if I bought a couch that didn't fit through the front door of my new apartment. But then what seemed to be straight out of some bizarre indie movie happened.
[INT. APARTMENT - EVENING]
Juju has been napping and hears a knock on the door. At first, she ignores it, thinking the person will eventually go away. But he/she keeps fucking knocking. Seriously. Like every two seconds. And the person keeps getting louder and more insistent. So Juju gets up and fumbles to the door, opening it to see Spikey Hair Lady.
Juju: Yes?
SHL: Oh. Were you sleeping?
Juju: I was. Can I help you?
SHL: I need to come into your apartment. 
SHL tries to push past Juju, who just glares at her.  
Juju: I'm sorry, what?
SHL: I need to see how you have your couch set up.
Juju: We don't have a couch.
SHL: [pause] Why?
Juju: We just don't.
SHL: Where do you sit?
Juju: We have chairs.
SHL: Can I come in?
Juju: No. 
Juju closes the door and goes back to sleep.
[DISSOLVE]***
Seriously. That is a true story. Both the actual thing and that we don't have a couch. Each time I manage to run into this lady, it's one more story of her intrusiveness. When we got the Lincoln, she tried to get into it. When my delivery Chinese came, she tried to invite herself to eat my one bowl of wonton soup. And she drives like an asshole, speeding through the parking lot like she's training for NASCAR. And she smokes like a damned chimney. Before she moved in, our hallway smelled like a normal hallway, albeit a little bit moldy****. Now, there's this lingering cigarette stench that makes me gag. She's not the only smoker in our building, but none of them smoke inside. They're courteous and go outside. She apparently thinks she should be able to make everyone miserable. Three and I have complained to the office, and we're not the only ones. I'm hoping they resolve this as quickly as they did with Frat Girl.

Even though there aren't a lot of really annoying people here, the sheer douche-ness of them kind of overshadow any other crap neighbors I've had. Now, Three has other stories (like the guys who broke into his apartment and stole all his computer and music equipment and ate his sugar-free chocolate pudding) but I don't know specific details on a lot of them. Hell, I may have him do a guest post one of these days. And anyway, we're definitely going to be moving elsewhere in March - closer to Three's work (and cheaper). I'm sure we'll have another group of annoying neighbors, but it'll take a lot to best these people.

God, I hope I didn't just jinx myself.

* This is not abnormal for him, anyway. He called me his ex-girlfriend's name for a while when we first got together, which amused me more than anything else. I mean, the guy was with her for four years, and I sometimes call him Zola, so we're even. He's just not very good remembering proper names of anything. For example, he went to see this Christian band and was talking about the performance with a friend, calling them Guitars of Light. His friend kept looking at him strangely and finally said, "You mean, Jars of Clay?"
** Okay, so I get that people have different ideas about what music is awesome and what isn't. I'm sure my mix of genres includes some music that is truly horrific to someone else. But dubstep. Really? I mean, really? I think Key and Peele describe it best: Dubstep is like "listening to music and then all of a sudden an alien tried to communicate with me." I have physical reactions to it, none of them good. Plus, look at this guy:
Even just looking at this makes me want to punch him. 
*** I don't actually know how scripts are written.
**** Our building is a unique one. The A and B buildings are connected by a common area that is basically an indoor garden, so when they water the plants, the moisture just kind of sticks around and ugh.
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