Spotted on MetaFilter: Smith Magazine ("Everyone has a story") "takes a bunch of renowned artists and writers from the world of Indie Comics and asks them to tell stories about memorable Next-Door Neighbor experiences.
Well, you know me--I just happen to have a couple of my own.
(1) Throughout the 'Eighties I worked for the University of Virginia and lived in a crappy little 10-unit apartment building* populated mostly by students:
One day I came home to find the cutest, blondest, perkiest, petite-est, friendliest little 1st year female student you could possibly imagine lugging boxes into the apartment next to mine, and so I'm thinking, "Wowsers and yowzers! Let the twitterpation begin!" Unfortunately, it turned out she wasn't the one who was going to be living there; she was merely helping her boyfriend of long standing move in, after which she was heading back to the Independent Duchy of Northern Virginia** to do...whatever.
The Boyfriend seemed nice enough at first, maybe a little fratboyesque, but it wasn't long before his place became Drunken Party Central--booze, dudes, babes, and bad music all weekend, most every weekend, which would have been fine if there'd been any soundproofing between his unit and mine, but there wasn't and I spent many a Saturday night being relentlessly pounded by whatever godawful MTV-derived '80s music was climbing the charts at the time*** and being amazed at how quickly and seamlessly he shifted allegiance to (spectacularly slutty-looking and rather, uh, vocal, if you know what I mean... and I think you do) Girlfriend 2.0.
A couple of months passed and then early one evening I heard a soft, almost plaintive, knock at my door. I opened it and, lo and behold, who should be standing there but Girlfriend 1.0 with an elaborately decorated birthday cake:
"Have you seen (The Boyfriend)? It's his birthday and I wanted to surprise him!"
Since she didn't know the town and had no place else to go I invited her inside to wait... and wait we did. Three hours. Three loooong hours punctuated with foot-tapping, clock-checking, and uncomfortable silences. Eventually, The Boyfriend did return and she dashed out to meet him... only to return thirty minutes later, a tad crestfallen, to say thanks and goodbye.
She drove away and I wound up with the birthday cake.
(2) A year or so after I moved to Richmond I acquired a Golden Retriever named Casey and some new neighbors, a gay couple, whose primary source of entertainment seemed to be arguing LOUDLY with one another, arguments often accompanied by the sound of breaking plates and hurled cutlery. They also had this hideous-looking little dog named Gizmo who soon became Casey's best friend.
As the neighbors' fights became more frequent and increasingly vituperative, Gizmo took to hanging out in my apartment****, lounging on my threadbare sofa with Casey and, eventually, the three of us sleeping together in the bedroom.
Since the neighbors weren't feeding him and he rarely went home, I finally got Gizmo his own food and water bowls figuring well, now I have two dogs (and wondered if I could sue for puppy support)... until I came home from work one evening and found Gizmo missing--the neighbors had broken up and Gizmo's owner had moved out.
I was sad, but Casey was devastated. For the next two months he wandered the apartment and the back yard on a regular basis looking for his buddy; he'd hang out for what seemed like hours at the neighbors' back door then come home, lie down beside Gizmo's food bowl, and... wait.
We never saw Gizmo again.
*110 Carrollton Terrace, Apt. 6. The building itself was atop a hill and my apartment, which you can barely see at the farthest end of this photo, was thirty feet above some active railroad tracks. Noisiest place I've ever lived and that includes Boston and New Orleans.
**Virginians do not consider Northern Virginia to be an actual part of the Commonwealth; this is probably because people from Northern Virginia believe the geography beneath them is also...beneath them. They insist that the land due south of Prince William Co. is Deliverance country, full of banjo music, hookworms, inbreeding, and sodomy.
***Thereby interfering with my ongoing and intensive study of the deconstructionist thematics in Beany and Cecil.
****An easy task since I kept the back door open at all times. Dogs are great, but they're always on the wrong side of the door.