Living in a New York Oz Neighborhood: The Racer, The Smoker, The Harangued Mommy, and The Pet-Friendly Curmudgeon
A while back, Hilary Clinton noted that it takes a village to raise a child. At the time, I lived in California and wondered whether I would ever dare leave a future child with any of my neighbors. At the time, I had gun-happy neighbor that would bring his gun to harass his neighbors into being quiet –meaning not even toss and turn in bed. At the time, one of my neighbors was extremely fidgety and a shut-in of epic proportions. He was such a shut-in that the day we moved in above him he filed a noise complaint that we were walking about loudly. Another neighbor had a sex trade business going to which we had to blast a series of white noise to drown them out. Our landlord didn’t so much mind about that since he was eventually indicted for sex-slave trafficking. Yes, that was my neighborhood in a small block in California. I was happy to return to New York.
Nowadays, my neighborhood is filled with characters that are a bit high on the grumpy scale. At times, I feel a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I am looking for an answer but I am not quite sure what it is while a bunch of flying monkeys rummage about. There are kids in my neighborhood, in essence little munchkins, but I never see them. I am not too sure why, but they are all hiding indoors. Could be the flying monkeys hanging about that are scaring them.
In my neighborhood, there is the racer dude. I have known him for five years and I think his real name may be Steve but I wouldn’t bet on it. Everyday, without fail, he races me from the train station. It can be a severe blizzard out and his goal is to beat my walking time. More often than not, I win the race. I am a true New Yorker so speed-walking is my thing. When he gives up the walking thing and decides to run, then he does beat me as I cannot run out doors with my heavy bags. In a way, he positions himself as Oz. He monitors the neighborhood and comes up with “sage” advice. The other day he came and knocked on our door because the person who had parked in our space had a flat tire. He is basically the neighborhood know it all who is always complaining to government officials.
We then have the smoker. Mind you, there are many people in the neighborhood who smoke. She is the Smoker, though, because she kind of creepily stands about at the bus stop or at the train station and while the rest of her body stands very still in her black trench coat, a puff of smoke comes out of her nostrils. She doesn’t smile. She doesn’t move. She just stands there and smokes. In a way, she is kind of our version of the scarecrow.
There is the pet-friendly curmudgeon. He lives at the end of the block. He grunts and glares as you pass by him. He would appear to be the neighborhood tin-man. However, he has two small Pomeranians that he diligently walks about twice or three times a day. As you pass him by while he is walking the dogs, you hear him whisper sweet-nothings to the dogs. He does have a heart after all, if at least, for doggies.
Immediately next door to me is the harangued mommy. She has a four-year old son who at first glance looks really cute and cuddly. However, when you go to talk to him you realize he is really more like Damon in the Omen. She started coming over to our place bringing her son over for twenty-minute play dates. Now, those play dates last more like two-hours. She comes to our door, asks if her son can play with my son, and then runs as quickly as she can. I suspect that she is either having a good cocktail or two while her son is at my house or she is just zoning out trying not to feel anything. I cannot emphasize how badly behaved that boy is. After the playdate I end up needing a drink. In a way she is like Glinda the good witch in that she offers to take care of my son or take him sledding, but I cannot help but think one more year and she won’t be so good.
We also have in the neighborhood our own version of wicked witch of the west. She goes out of her way to just stare everyone down. She rents out her extra apartment to others and inevitably those renters move out within 6 months to a year. The renters are our version of the cowardly lion. Although, they are not really cowardly as she is just insufferable. Just the other day, during the height of the latest horrible snowstorm, she brought in someone with a plow and they were able to clean up her property within minutes while they watched us shovel out for an hour. She never offered any assistance. I suppose every neighborhood as the nosy, wacked out, mean-spirited neighbor. Just wish I didn’t have to bump into her everyday.
Still, the neighborhood is a good one where we feel safe enough to leave our doors unlocked during the day. And we are not even in Canada! Wacky neighbors, got to love them. At least, my racer neighbor keeps my heart rate going and my weight down. Now that is a good neighbor. Now, as for the flying monkeys, I will leave that to your imagination to figure out who it may be.
Off I go to speedwalk against the racer dude!
Other takes on neighbors