Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lend Me Some Sugar

Have I ever told you how much I love my neighbors? No, I haven't. Today when I got back to my building one of my neighbors was in the vestibule with his daughter. The girl is probably about 7 or 8 years old. I can't tell if she spends all of her time or part of her time with her Dad in this apartment, but I've never seen any mother or anyone else with them. Maybe she splits part of the week with another parent, but I think she's here fulltime. When I walked into the vestibule, the Dad was undoing her braids, I don't know why they were hanging out in the vestibule, maybe they were waiting for a bus. I said hello and opened my mailbox and the girl started yelling, "No, no, don't look at me!".

"What's the matter?" I asked. "Why are you embarassed?"
"Because he's doing my hair and he doesn't know how to do it!"

"I think he's doing a good job," I said. She continued to scream and thrash about in the tiny vestibule that was cramped with three people in it. All of a sudden she looked up at me and gave me a beautiful smile. "Did you go to Mass?" she asked.

At first I didn't know what she was talking about, but then I rememberd my ashes. "Oh, yes," I said.

"Where did you go?" asked the Dad. I looked at his face and saw traces of ashes, nothing like the big mess on my face.

"St. Patrick's," I said.
"Oh, in the city," he said.
"Yes, it's near my office."
"Do you have a Church around here?" he asked. I told him that I didn't but I would like to find one. He told me about the church in Park Slope where they go. I asked about the Mass schedule and he said on Sundays there was a 9:30 and a 12:15. "There's another Mass in between but it is in Spanish."

I said that the 12:15 sounded good, that's a time I might actually make. "We go to 12:15," said the little girl "because I don't understand the one before." I said that I also wouldn't be able to understand a Mass in Spanish.

"We go to 12:15 Mass because we can't get up," said the Dad. "Actually, it just takes me so long to do her hair. To get to 12 o'clock Mass I have to put her in the shower by 10. It takes forever to do her hair." I wondered again if this guy was a full-time single Dad and what the circumstances might be here, but I would never ask. I have the potential to get emotionally involved in a situation like this, especially if there is a dead Mom involved. But right now I'm not looking to take on any entangling alliances so I managed to escape the vestibule without volunteering to do the girl's hair every Sunday and take her to Chuck E. Cheese.

In across the hall news, I was in bed writing on Monday night when there was a knock at my door. "Who is it?" I asked; it was after 10:00pm.

"It's the GoodNeighbor," he said.

"Ooh, okay, hang on, one minute, I need to find pants...." I tossed something on and opened the door for him. "Hi, what's going on?"

"Am I bothering you? Did I wake you?"

"No, I'm up. Come in." The GoodNeighbor asked if he could use my Internet connection to check his email because he was waiting to hear about something.

"I promise I won't make a habit of this," he said. I didn't mind, but with no desk, I use my laptop in bed. So I set it up for him and invited him to sit on the bed while I crawled back under the covers on the other side. This is a man who once took five minutes to come to the door because when I knocked at his place he was in the middle of lifting weights in his underwear while blasting J.Lo; we have an odd intimacy of sorts.

"Did you apply for a job? Is that what you're waiting to hear about?"

"No, it's so stupid," he said. "But I'm bidding on something on eBay."

"Oh, well, I don't know anything about eBay. I think it's something I could get hooked on very easily so I try to keep my distance." I went back to my writing but soon he yelled 'Shit!'.
"What's the matter?" I asked. "Bid more! Bid higher!" The MuffinTin is a place for winners.

"There's some other dork out there just like me, bidding on the same thing." He was taking my advice and raising his bid. After a few moments of listening to him type the suspense got to me.

"Can I ask what you're bidding on?"

"You're going to think it's so retarded, you'll never speak to me again." Of course I was hoping it was something totally ridiculous.

"No, come on, tell me. "

"It's a deck of Tarot cards." There was a pause.

"It's okay," I said. "I'm just going to pretend it has some socio-political or religious significance back in your home country." We both screamed with laugher and shook my bed. "Wait, do you even read Tarot Cards?"

"No," he said. "But...."

"No, don't tell me, I want to make up my own backstory." GoodNeighbor, if you're reading this (which you probably aren't since you don't have an Internet connection) I hope you won your freakin' auction. If you had to spend more than you planned on, don't worry. You can always sell one of your cats for parts. Two is rather excessive anyway.

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