Most of you are reading this from the comfort of your own home, a place - whether rented, owned or inherited - you chose to live.
Some of you may want an extra room, a new kitchen, or maybe a second or third bathroom, and for the most part you can change whatever you want. Except once you walk out your front door, all bets are off. You can't renovate all your neighbors; they weren't part of the deal. When you moved in, I bet the real estate agent that showed you the place never even mentioned them.
Sometimes you're blessed with decent people around you, but even they can get under your skin after a while. Even if you try to avoid most of them, somehow you still manage to get stuck interacting with them all. Maybe an evening of cards, a not so quick beer, or a kid's birthday party you're obligated to go to.
Then there is the dreaded block party that starts off nice enough. A spring breeze gently blows while you socialize with the other parents, watching the kids jump around in one of those bouncy castles. While a DJ plays oldies, you start to remember, why you haven't spoken to this cast of characters since last year. There's the recovering from everything guy a few doors down, the schemer a few doors the other way, and let's not forget the fake drug dealer/gangster who of course lives with the part-time Jezebel.
At least the old grease ball couple is nice enough, though you have to remind yourself not to eat the wife's baked ziti. Years ago, you had two helpings before you noticed the raisins had legs. You overlooked the dirt under her nails, even the fart she ripped next to you, but the extra ingredients are another story. Sometime after eating your umpteenth plate of dried out Lasagna, and slurping the last bit of peach out of your cup of wine, you realize those flashing lights are not coming from the DJ booth, but from the tops of enough police cars to film a "Smokey & the Bandit" remake.
Well maybe not that many. You recognize a few cops from last year, when your neighbor had one beer too many and thought he was Mike Tyson in a whorehouse. He was in front of your house and using the philosophy, "if you can't eat it or fuck it, try and beat it up."
You didn't inherit anything, pay dearly to live where you are, and will for another twenty or so years as that's how many payments you have left. If you don't want to be bothered with these people, you have to nail your doors shut and not come out except for special occasions until your social security check kicks in.
I'm not that fortunate. I can't decide to be a shut in or a recluse as the Corrections Dept. likes to make sure you're still here. Instead of a nice mahogany door with a stained glass window, I have bars which can't keep out passing comments, let alone anything else.
Which brings me to my neighbors. To my left is Evan M. aka The Headless Horseman. Mid-thirties, textbook bug-out, who decided to cut his neighbors head off one day simply because she answered the door. He seat-belted her head in the car and took her noggin for a nice tranquil drive to unwind. I wonder when he stopped short did he put his arm out so her head wouldn't fall? Or how the hell did he explain himself to the cop who pulled him over for driving alone in the car pool lane? "No Officer, since the head used to be attached to an entire body, technically she counts as the second person in the car, so I CAN use the H.O.V. lane."
Now safely locked up for the past six to seven years, he can't play with knives anymore (at least not store bought ones) so his new hobby is jumping on the bed, then climbing the bars, literally.
I know this is hard to believe, but it is true. Whenever the mood strikes, he starts bouncing away like an eight year old who found his father's coke stash. Then he climbs the bars like a stripper at a telethon wearing a skateboard helmet. Since he's obviously nuts, I try not to waste my time convincing him his cell is not a state issued jungle gym. That is, until my wall starts vibrating and my typewriter starts shaking, then all bets are off.
Two cells away is a guy who claims he is a woman trapped in a man's body. I've heard of that one before and I guess sometimes these things happen, but to throw another wrench into the works he also thinks he might be a lesbian.
To compound the matter, most of us are a product of our environment, so after hearing him list his of symptoms enough times, I'm starting to wonder if I am a lesbian too. I sit here, wondering how the hell would I explain this to my honey boo-boo wife. Do I even have to? If I'm a lesbian I still will be attracted to her.
This happens to be the same guy that I put a petrified pigeon in his pillowcase for a goof. Days passed by waiting for him to notice, and that joke quickly deflated. Either he didn't feel it crunching under his face like a bag of chips, or maybe he tried nursing it back to health for a few days before calling it quits.
Saving the best for last, to the left of me, I have Peter B. aka the Fireman, who dressed up as one before holding some women hostage. For twelve hours he cuddled next to her, after chloroforming her of course. To be honest, he is rather quiet and doesn't say much. When he does speak it's with a tone that has no pitch, which I dubbed the "Visine Guy" voice. He never goes anywhere, never thinks of exercising. Those little green turtles we all had as kids walked to the palm tree more then he moves around in the course of a day.
However, when The Fireman does speak it's usually worth taking my headphones off. He is like a child; you never know what the hell is going to come out of his mouth. For instance, just yesterday during a break in cross-examination portion of the Jodi Arias trial (which he can't miss a minute of) he wanted to know if I knew any florist that delivered FTD. I answered I did, and asked him who he wanted to send flowers to.
"Ok, let me get this straight, you want flowers delivered to Jodi during her murder trial? She stabbed her boyfriend twenty-eight times, cut his throat, and put one in his head."
I can almost picture this one. "Excuse me your Honor, call for recess, so that Jodi can accept her lovely arrangement and place it in a water pitcher before she continues testifying." Right after reading the attached card signed, Love always Peter.
Next he inquires if inmates can marry inmates. "Gee Pete, if you mean with another dude, I doubt that would be a problem. However, I think they keep the chicks on death row in single cells, but hey, for the price of a stamp you can write the warden and ask if you can double bunk." Just think, if they had a child it could really get cute; especially around Halloween when the kid wants to dress up like a fireman, that should be good for a chuckle or two.
"Be careful crossing the street honey and make sure you take duct tape and chloroform."
What would the kid ask for on his birthday? "Mommy can I have another box cutter or maybe a pistol?"
"Sure sweetheart, just hold the blade the way I showed you and don't shoot any of your little friends, unless you have an alibi.
Before I put my headphones back on and return to my legal endeavors, remember this story prior to your next weekly get together or block party. After you put it all in perspective, you can pull up lounge chairs for you and your spouse, and split a bowl of chips and dip as you watch the police club the guy next door like Rodney King.
But hey, at least you can always move to another Neighborhood.