When I moved into my place 3 years ago after selling the house (I can’t believe it’s been 3 years), I purposely chose an apartment on the 1st floor of my 4 story building. With a 2-year-old, 2 dogs, weekly groceries that I was on my own to have to carry in, no covered parking and a snowy Chicago winter fast approaching, a 1st floor apartment was a non-negotiable requirement. And I don’t regret that decision.
While first floor living has its perks – no worries about getting couches stuck in stairwells on moving day, no trying to convince my dogs to get into an elevator to go down and outside, having my own little area of greenery, having a cement patio which is great for sidewalk chalking rather than a wooden balcony – it does have some drawbacks. During the warm months I have to worry about skunks sneaking up on me from around the corner (and there are a LOT of skunks here), and I can’t sleep with my bedroom window open without fear of a burglar climbing in and spooning me because that’s what burglars do. In my head. I’ve obviously never actually been robbed. But they need love, too you know, they’re just not getting it from me.
And then there’s the periodic porch creeper. I have a neighbor across the hall who I lovingly refer to as Drunk John. Drunk John is a harmless man, he’s just a little slurry, smells like cat pee and keeps asking me to type his book for him because I know how to type on one of those cutting-edge machine do-hickies with a keyboard thinga-ma-boob. He never hesitates to give me a great big “HELLOOOO!!” every time he manages to see me through his beer haze. And without fail, every time I’m walking my dogs and I run into him he asks, “your dog… what’s his name?”
“Oh, it’s a girl?”
“Yep, still a girl.”
Once in a while he will come home from fishing in the pond down the street, park his car, walk over to my patio, sit and rest on one of my chairs for a minute, then get up and go home. I don’t mind, chairs are made for sitting and resting your bum. Even, or especially, if you’re drunk, soggy and tired.
One beautiful sunny morning I was taking Summer to school and as we were walking to the car I noticed a brightly colored plastic watch on the grass by my patio. I left it there in case the owner of said watch came looking for it. A few hours later, back at home I went outside to soak up some very unseasonably warm sunshine only to find the watch had been placed on my patio table – I figured someone saw it and thought it was ours. I left it there.
A bit later I went inside for a moment and when I returned to the patio, the watch was gone and there was a credit card on the foot rest of my patio chair. Uh, question mark?? I left it there.
An hour later, the credit card was gone but there was now a smelly, sticky plastic bag with some dirty cups and a warm, unopened beer on one of my chairs. Drunk John. He must have put it there and forgotten about it, so I left it assuming he’d come back for it eventually. Again I went inside for a bit, checked back a bit later and there was now a baseball hat laying in the dirt.
Ummmmmm… perhaps someone accidentally dropped it off their balcony above me? I picked up the hat and placed it on top of the bag of disgust.
But again, because this had quickly become a game of confusing intrigue, I later checked my patio out of curiosity – the hat was gone, the stinky bag of disappointment was still there, and it now had a friend in the form of another plastic bag.
A plastic bag full of fucking dirty stretchy bras.
I can’t make this stuff up.
So I did what any sane person feeling insanity coming on would have done, I set up my baby camera in the living room and pointed it on the patio while I watched the monitor from the comfort of my bedroom. And just like taking a trip to the doctor only to arrive and feel perfectly fine, absolutely nothing happened. And then I got pissed. Someone was purposely messing with me and leaving their junk on my patio and I had absolutely no idea why. So I went outside, put on my best angry face, grabbed all the junk and marched it straight to the dumpster assuming my mystery horrible gift giver was watching from somewhere.
A few hours later I had to leave. And when I got home, I parked the car and got out and noticed a neighbor of mine who I’ve been told is an alcoholic and had just gotten back from rehab, a neighbor I’ve never spoken to before, walking along the sidewalk saying something to me. He was too far away for me to hear so we approached each other in the middle of the courtyard.
“I’m sorry, what? I couldn’t hear you from back there,” I said.
“I want to give you all my money,” strange neighbor says.
“I just wanted to give you all my money,” he says again.
“I don’t want your money,” I replied.
“Please just let me give you all of my money.”
“I don’t want your money, you should keep your money.”
I was utterly confused and it was strange and went on the same way a few more times until I turned and walked away and went inside. And then it hit me.
Credit card. His money.
Cups and a beer. His, erm, most prized possessions perhaps?
The bras? I don’t know… I can’t explain that one. He has a wife but I’m sorry dude, I don’t want your wife’s graying booby holsters, I have my own. I promise.
The next day, my suspicions were confirmed, Drunk John was no longer a suspect as I watched Crazy Bra Man walk from his apartment to the dumpster. He retrieved one of the cups off the ground that had fallen out of the bag that I had missile launched into the dumpster the day before. I’ve seen him twice since then – the first time he asked me if I had seen his phone. Um, nope. The next time we didn’t make eye contact. I’m good with that. I attract the crazies, I accepted that fact a long time ago. But apparently it gets more eyebrow-raisingly interesting when you live in the land of the happy-go-lucky drunks, the lasagna toting loonies, and the kissing maintenance bandits. I swear I live in a nice friendly little community where the majority of my neighbors are 100% sane, but the ones that aren’t? They make for some good times and ridiculous memories I never knew I wanted.
And I’m moving in June 🙂