Good fences…

Of course hating neighbors is not exclusive to New York, but unlike, say, Montana or Vermont, we have to share small crummy old buildings with ours. And chances are that the neighbors you do have out in the boondocks don’t play in an “experimental” band. And if you do have neighbors who make loud, unstructured music, sometimes late at night, they are probably not ugly and in their fifties like ours are.

Our downstairs neighbor, who incidentally wears what’s left of his hair in a Prince Valiant style (not a good idea even when you have a full head of hair), recently got a subscription to the New York Times. We’ve had a subscription to the Times for about a year, and I wondered if it was he who was stealing our copy every once in a while, but now I realize he couldn’t have been stealing ours because he couldn’t even bother to pick up his own. I’m not talking about taking a day or two to get his paper – there were mountains of them on the ground. When our landlord showed up to have the boiler fixed and noticed the piles he asked if they were ours, and we said they belonged to ugly on the first floor.

The next night we get a knock on the door. I open it, and Prince Ugly is there holding a newspaper. He immediately starts sputtering: “You guys are nothing but trouble and I’m tired of dealing with it!”

I ask him what the problem is, and he says the landlord got mad at him for the piles of papers on the hall, and that they’re not his papers and hands me the one he’s holding – “This paper from Tuesday is yours!” Evidently he’d gone through every single issue in the pile until he found one that didn’t belong to him.

My wife was working at her desk, and said to him that it was hard to tell if any were ours because of the amount of them on the floor. “I’m tired of dealing with your BULLSHIT!” he screamed back. My wife told him to get out of our house, and he said “What, are you offended because I cursed? Well, fuck you! I’m sick of having problems with you two!”

As he was turning to go, I said “Wait, what problems are you talking about, exactly?” He looked surprised and mumbled something about the papers. I asked him if there was anything else, and he sheepishly repeated that he didn’t “want to deal with everyone’s papers.” I told him he didn’t have to worry about our papers anymore, and he stepped back in the apartment. “I’m sorry I cursed,” he said to my wife’s back. Then he turned to me and said “I don’t have any problems with you guys.” He shook my hand and left.

I’ve run into him a couple of times since, and he always smiles at me and asks how I’m doing. So the next time you are riding your horse past your neighbor’s house two miles away from yours and you’re angry because he hasn’t fixed the fence posts that fell down last winter, thank your lucky stars you don’t live in New York. You fucking hick.