Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Living Large on a Small Stage

There’s one house on my block that stands out.

It’s the only one that looks like a scene from Odets or Osborne, telling stories of dead-end jobs and the hopeless pursuit of love, sex, and money.

How do I know this is true? Because I can’t walk out on the play, the theater is across the street. And most of the dramas take place on the front porch -- hard to miss when your windows are thrown open on hot summer nights. Whatever happens in that house, it's never soto voce.

The cast of characters might number 8 or 10 or more. I have no idea who is related to whom, but I know the house teems with children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and whatever follows that.

Here’s a bit of dialogue from yesterday’s scene. Man, presumably on the phone: “What do I mean what do you mean? I’m on the porch. I’m sitting on the porch. You can think that, but I’m on the porch. No I haven’t. No I didn’t. Think what you want. Think that. Think that. No I didn’t. No I haven’t. I’m on the porch. I’m on the damn porch.”

Well, everyone will tell you I can be a little dense and tend to tune-out during long conversations, but even I could grasp, the man was on the fucking porch.

Maybe two hours later, close to midnight, the door slams several times. A woman this time, screaming, “Get your stuff out of here. No, I mean it. Pack your stuff and get out of here. No, don’t even try. I want you out. No you won't stay. I want you out. Do you hear me. Out. Out. I want you out of here.”

Once again I had a surprising understanding of the situation: My friend better get off the damn porch.

Funny thing is, the patriarch of the menagerie is a very sweet, soft spoken gentleman. Don’t know what he makes of all the drama. The other day, the cops were banging on his door at 6 a.m. yelling “Search warrant, open up.” Police cars and officers were around the house from the time I left in the morning and for most of the afternoon.

I didn’t quite know what to say when I ran into the patriarch that evening as he came home from work.

“How’s it going?” (Okay, so I’m not Osborne.)

“Oh, you know, it’s going.” (But then, neither is he.)


  1. To me, this is music:

    “What do I mean what do you mean? I’m on the porch. I’m sitting on the porch. You can think that, but I’m on the porch. No I haven’t. No I didn’t. Think what you want. Think that. Think that. No I didn’t. No I haven’t. I’m on the porch. I’m on the damn porch.”

  2. To thoughts: 1. When she was telling him to get out, did she mean that he should go to the porch? 2. Are you sure they don't read your blog?

  3. Um, when are you going to string no more than one thousand of these words together, slap a fiction label on them, and send them to Rose City Sisters Flash fiction? Very nice.

  4. This sounds like a comment you meant to leave on one of So Pasa Laurie's "Settings" postings.

    I wish you had mentioned comfort food somewhere in this house. Nevertheless, kB, this writing is reading large on this, stage.

  5. All I can think of K, is how you would illustrate this.

    Margaret, as to your second point, yes. But even if they did read it, I don't think they'd mind. The dialogues are very public by virtue of the volume.

    D -- what's that meal you're cooking?

  6. Had a neighbor once who at exactly 6 every night put fresh cat food on her front porch. But skunks ate the food instead of her cats. We'd go out at about 6:15, stand on the sidewalk, and watch the skunks eating off the neighbor's porch. Either she didn't notice the skunks or didn't care. Never figured out which.

  7. Oh thanks for the laughs, I needed that so much tonight KB. My neighborhood is quiet.......very quiet. I'm thinking if lived by you, I'd be so up in your neighbors STUFF i'd get arrested too. You make me laugh so very hard. I love ya my friend.
    PS Did someone get kicked to the curb?????

  8. KB - I think you illustrate it with drawings of what she's thinking when she's asking the questions to which he's providing the answers.

  9. I would like to see this streaming live (I just left a broadcast on Potentially Nervous and I'm afraid I'm instantly and fatally addicted). I think 6:00 PM your time is 8:00 PM my time. That's perfect. Be sure and talk to them about adequate lighting.

  10. "I'm on the porch, I'm on the damn porch." It's an excuse and explanation for so many things in life. don't know why I never tried it before.


  11. This is exactly why I hate living across from tennis courts. Despite the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, it isn't the same as being the spectator of a good front porch.

  12. The only drama I've had in my neighborhood was last year when I was awakened by the noise of a helicopter circling above at about 1 AM with a bright spotlight slowly moving around the yards. There was also a voice from the sky telling us to stay inside. I would have liked to heard the police radio dialogue. "What do you mean what do you mean? I'm in the helicopter. Think what you want. I'm in the damn helicopter."

  13. HeeHeeeeeee! The recently-separated guy across the road from us has taken to having loud chipmunk sex with his lights on and windows open. Want to swap?

  14. Whoa. That's too much drama for me. I much prefer the sound of seagulls screaming at each other in the morning.

  15. Michael, tails from the porch.
    Virg, who knows? But I love ya too.
    Earl, give it a go.
    PJ, what are you up to now? I saw the site, but need clarification.
    Linda, Shell and I are willing to swap with you. Better yet, I'll swap with Carolynn.
    Pierre, That one was a coffee-spitter, it was. Touche.
    Wake-up, go back to sleep.

  16. I feel for the patriarch; this is probably not what he pictured going on on that front porch.

  17. have seen those houses...lived near them and wished I owned more earplugs.

    sometimes you have to wonder how some folks stay alive with so few brain cells to rub together---and why some stay in situations that are so horrific.

    Shell---years ago we had a neighbor who liked to boink his screamer of a wife at 1am on sweltering nights...with the windows wide open..."WAAAAYNE! WAAAAYNE! OMG WAAAYNE!" One night we were sooo tired of it that we yelled "WAAAYNE, SHUT THE F'ing WINDOW!".

  18. You are a very patient & understanding neighbor, trish.

  19. Fats the bunny has cancer and his hoomin got a film maker friend to set up a live with chat telethon for selling her astonishing blown glass pieces. These are to die for. You can see some of them at rubinelliglass.com. The pieces she showed last night were more functional than the pieces on her website. The prices she asking last night were obscenely low.

  20. Speaking of food: In my opinion the chef for this restaurant is AH, who decides the menu.

    Of course she not always has control of all the ingredients.


  21. OK, the CONSISTENTLY high quality of your humor is starting to annoy me. No more Peter Cook for you after 9:00 a.m.

    Put that porch together with Coppess’s neighbors and you’ve got a masterpiece waiting to happen. AND a best seller. Here’s yet another confirmation that truth is stranger than fiction.

    Trish, should I believe your anecdote? What name there could be better than Wayne?

    And, like Jean, don’t we all have to feel for the patriarch at least a little?

  22. Ah, the free entertainment a neighborhood can provide!

    We have lots of screaming matches in our neighborhood, but very rare police visits. I guess that's something...

  23. A Waaaaayne sometimes visits this blog. I find him oddly absent since the Trish comment ...

  24. I think what comes after great grandchildren is so-so grandchildren, always a disappointment.

  25. {LOL, Trish ~ thank you for the handy tip. :) }

  26. yup folks, this was true about Wayne---don't guess it was the same one visiting here...I believe the other one died a few years back---jealous husband offed him while Wayne was making some other woman scream (other than the wife he had at the time named Lynda). Wayne was a bit of a shmuck. We are SO glad we don't live in that apt anymore---had a guy and his g/f on the other side of our bedroom wall who we knicknamed 2 minute Jose...alarm went off, their bed would squeek for 2 minutes in an ever rapid rhythm and then he'd get up to flush the prophylactic and take a shower---never heard her make a noise.

  27. Sounds like the East Side.

    The patriarch has reluctantly, perhaps, accepted his lot in life.

    It's so hard to abandon family, whatever the negative connotations it may bring.

    To paraphrase a Swede I know, "some families are a bad habit".