There is something to be said about the sanctity of having your own home. By that I mean a real house, not just an apartment or condo.
We’ve been living in a condo for the last seven months, and although I’ve gotten used to having half the space I’m accustomed to, it’s not too terrible.
Someone down my hallway has a bad habit of frying onions and cleaning with PineSol at the same time. I’d be afraid to light a match for fear of blowing us out of the building.
It’s really an awful smell.
I do have some interesting neighbors — even though I constantly check the local “predator” list because I do have a child and there are some questionable characters living too close for comfort — but thus far none of them have appeared on the local list.
The majority of tenants seem to be older women, all of whom are very nice.
There is an older fella across the hall who married a much younger woman. He’s retired and living well off his retirement benefits, while she is still working two jobs. He clearly does not believe in “community property.”
He happened to be coming down the hall the other day and looked like he’d slept outside somewhere. No doubt he’d been up all night drinking.
I hailed him with a big “good morning” and he, being still somewhat inebriated, said, “I just won 10 grand!”
“What?” I was not expecting that response.
“Ten grand. I just won 10 grand!”
“That’s incredible!” I said, “How did you win that?”
“Up the casino! I won seventy-five hundred bucks the other day.”
I couldn’t believe it.
I wished him well with his windfall, hoping he wouldn’t think about drinking more and driving his sweet little ‘vette around town.
He fumbled for his keys and made his way inside his place.
I gotta get my butt up to that casino. Sounds like the odds there are better than the lottery.
So another day or so goes by and I’ve more or less forgotten about my neighbor’s good fortune until I see him coming down the hallway carrying some grocery bags.
He looks at me and says, “Mum’s the word.”
I knew exactly what he was talking about.
I zipped across my lips and said, “Gotcha.”
As we make our way down the hall and into the elevator, The Kid says, “What does that mean? ‘Mum’s the word’?”
“It means ‘Don’t say anything about my winnings to my wife. She doesn’t know and I want it to stay that way.’ In other words, ‘forget I ever told you.’”
Like the day I went outside through the downstairs garage, where everyone parks, and there he was, tucked up in a corner having a ciggie.
“Hey neighbor! How’s it goin’?” I asked.
He hunched down a little — mind you he is about 6-foot-7and weighs about 90 pounds, and then took the cig out, putting his finger to his lips.
I shook my head at the nearly 70-year-old guy, wondering why he thinks his bride doesn’t know he smokes.
He ain’t foolin’ anyone, least of all me.
I put my hands up and said, “I never saw you here.”
He smiled, cig back in his mouth, and gave me two thumbs up.
When I was taking The Kid to school the next day, I discovered that Slim had left a bag of lemons and some fresh tomatoes at my door during the night.
Payola. I love it.
I’d hooked one of my elderly neighbors up with a few hot meals when she was sick, poor ol’ thing, she would crack the door like she was suffering from leprosy, as I handed the containers to her, warning her to take care because they were hot.
She nodded under her shroud, thanking me profusely.
I kept checking on her, making sure she was surviving, and she was coming along just fine.
I came home one afternoon to find a bag full of very delicious chocolates and other confections sitting outside my door.
I knew they were from her because she’d also filled the containers I’d given her full of goodies for The Kid.
I really — and truly — do not expect to get goods. I really just want my neighbors to be healthy and happy, because it creates less tension around the building.
Now, if I can just figure out who it is in my hallway that fries onions and cleans with PineSol at the same time, I’ll be just about golden.
If I can get whomever it is to cut that stuff out, maybe someone will leave a winning lottery ticket under my door.