Thursday, June 21, 2007

Welcome to Streetsville


Streetsville is a quaint little old-town neighborhood pushing the north-west fringe of the great sprawling suburban grid that is Mississauga, Ontario - the sixth largest city in Canada by population. In this city we have houses and buildings and people and grocery stores. We also have restaurants and traffic lights and dentists and fire hydrants. Doesn't that sound like an interesting place?

And if that's not enough, we also have schools and grass and newspapers and ATM machines. Isn't that wild? We're crazy!

We also have a mayor who's been re-elected more times than god. If she survives one more term in office she'll reach one hundred years of age. We celebrate that we have the oldest mayor in the world. We assume that there's a World-Wide Mayoral Date-of-Birth Registry Association who keeps track of these things for us. Safe assumption, right?

To get to Mississauga you can either drive east through Oakville until everything you see looks much the same as it just did - or you can drive West through Toronto until everything you see looks much the same as it just did.

I've lived in Streetsville/Mississauga over a year now but so far not the mayor, the mayor's age, the lofty population or either of the city's two biggest problems have seemed to make the slightest impact on my living experience. The two biggest problems of course being, one, that it is too dense an two, that it is not dense enough.

Once in Mississauga you can find Streetsville one of two ways. You can look at a damn map, Or you can just pull over and ask the nearest pederastrian to point the way to the nut-house. We’re smack in the middle of Streetsville, you see. If they're at all confused or unclear about your query just say:

"The nut-house! You know! The strip of loft apartments where FWG and Steve-o live and all the rejects of society. You know - the spaced-out lunatic deviant mental cases. The freaks. The freaks of nature. The crazy people. The ones who sniff their fingers a lot and drink their bath water - suds and all. You know? The looney bin. Where all the shit-ass crazy mega-maniacal mental-institution escapees live. Yeah. Yeah, that place... Thanks!"

There are eight apartments in a strip above eight stores. We share a substantial balcony running the length of the complex. So we're all rather cozy. Let me tell you just a bit about the neighbors. Just the highlights.


Sala:

I call him Sal. I don't know if he minds or not. Sala is schizophrenic and heavily medicated. He's quiet and polite. He likes to sit just outside our apartment and smoke cigarettes, the stench from which rises to my second-level bedroom window and grosses me out. I don't mind too much. I like Sal. He's my favorite neighbor. He's by far the most normal of them, warts, schizophrenia and all.


Yvonne:

She lives next door. She behaves in a rather chummy manner with me. She's a Christian and speaks very often of her church and its guiding influence on her life. She loves to give me advice. I don't bother telling her that her advice is almost never even slightly relevant to my life and circumstance. I assume that she assumes that not being Christian I must be a dumb ass and in need of much advice.

She's a fledgling writer. She wrote a romantic ditty about a man named Mac who presented a white handkerchief to the heroine at which time they fell in love and lived happily ever after. When later, in real life, at a funeral, Yvonne was crying and a man named Mark offered her a white handkerchief she nearly collapsed under the karmic wonderment of it all, fell instantly in love (well - upon approval from her church of course) and decided that she and this resident of England were going to elope to Scotland and marry. It hasn't happened yet but I think she's got her bags half packed.

I think she's one scarf short of a suitcase.


Julie:

She's my other next door neighbor. She's very nice. Another writer of sorts. Yes, we're everywhere. Dime a dozen. Her child is not so nice. She's known as The Hellion among other less-printable things. She's maybe ten years old and likes to throw fits. Lots of screaming, screaming, screaming, slamming of doors, more screaming, maybe another slamming of a door. Maybe an other. Maybe one more. Perhaps a few odd bloodcurdling screams in between the regular screams of red murderous rage. I've often lost sleep due to this. Miraculously she has yet to scream so violently that a vital organ or two has flown from her mouth. I presume that day is coming. I presume that will be the sad sad end of her. Poor little sweetheart.

Julie has a spare room to sublet. She told me to recommend her to anyone I knew who was looking for a place (and who, presumably, wouldn't mind living with the daughter of Satan). Yeah. I'll get right on that.


Carl:

He's different. Very different. A typical Carl encounter goes much like this:

"Hey buddy, do you think I could use your barbecue to cook some hamburgers?"

"Sure, Carl. Just remember to turn the gas off when you're done, okay?"

"Okay. Um. Do you have any hamburgers I could borrow?"

"Well, as a matter of fact we bought some frozen burgers and neither of us like them. You're welcome to try them and if you like them you can have the rest. I'll just grab them from the freezer for you."

"Thanks. Um. Do you have any hamburger buns I could borrow?"

"No."

"Oh."

"There's a variety store right below us. They sell buns there."

"Oh yeah. Hey, where is it you guys work, again? Is it computer work you do?"

"Yes, something like that."

"Could you get me a job there? I want to do computer work."

"I really don’t think they’re hiring, Carl, but I'll ask."

"Thanks, man."

Steve-o threw a barbecue party the other day for friends and co-workers. Carl sauntered over and was introduced to a few guests. He remained quiet for awhile, eyeing the burgers no doubt, and listening to the discussion going on around him; discussion around sports, politics, the workplace. Typical stuff. At a break in the conversation Carl piped up with this:

"So, do you guys prefer girls who squirt or don't squirt?"


Jolee:

Jolee is the queen freak of all freaks. You have no idea. Just looking at her is an adventure in queasiness. She's got the crazy eyes like nobody's business. She's lived here precisely two weeks and four days. I remember the day she moved in very clearly. The men moving her furniture approached carrying a mess of a couch that looked old enough to have survived the Truman administration - and one of his nuclear bombs to boot.

"Get out of the way, man," said one of the guys, "This couch smells like a fuckin' corpse!"

I held my breath.

Here's what Jolee has accomplished in just two and a half weeks:

She claimed to have lived here since April. (She hasn't.) She claimed to be our new superintendent. (She's not.) She claimed to be, on separate occasions, a police officer, a member of the Hell's Angels, a member of the Banditos and of the Mafia. The real police have visited her on at least three occasions that I've seen. Probably more.

She laid a surprise kiss attack on Steve-o in the parking lot, getting one cheek and narrowly missing the other as he ran for his life.

She's made enemies with pretty much everyone in the building and with a gaggle of teenagers who hang out in our parking lot very occasionally.

She opened her car door and smashed a neighbor's car door.

She drove her car partly off the ledge (our parking lot sits at a higher elevation than the surrounding ones). Or else her enemies pushed it off. I don't know.

Waiting for the teenagers to come along again, she hid in the bushes along with a tall vagrant whom she introduced as her bodyguard and who was found intruding in a neighbor's apartment uninvited just prior to the neighbor's camera going missing, and also with a large dog whom she introduced as her guard dog and who attacked a neighbor's dog, inflicting serious bloody wounds.

"We're talking their language now!" she proudly said of her trio of bush-sitting endeavor.

Last evening I showed up here with Rockin' Roddie and some cheese and salmon and healthy salad tid-bits. Steve-o was on a date. We planned to have a nice quiet dinner, share good conversation and drink a case of wine or two. The usual thing.

Jolee was waiting for us at the top of the stairs to the shared balcony.

"You had a flat tire!" she announced triumphantly. Not exactly true. I have a slow leak in one tire. It sags a bit now and then until I stop at Esso to pump it up with free air, use their bathroom and scram without buying a thing. "They did it! But don't worry! I took photos of your tire!" I guess she wanted to test out the stolen camera. "The police came and took Yvonne away!" (They didn't) "She was the ring-leader! She was repressing me! But it's all out in the open now! The conspiracy! They were gonna sneak into my apartment through the ducts and steal all their stuff back!"

People, I'm not making this up. I swear.

"Now everyone is going to have to apologize to me!"

"Well, I'm not going to apologize, Jolee, because I'm not involved in these shenanigans at all."

"Oh, I know. I know about you. I watch you. I see when you come and when you go."

Nice, eh?

Tonight I got home - after dark - and nearly made it in the door before she approached me with a wine bottle in her hand.

"All I've got left is the Merlot! Here, you take the Merlot. It's shit!" When I didn't move to accept the offering she placed it on my stoop.

"I don't understand," I said, picking up the bottle. It was filthy and empty and once held a Lindemans Shiraz according to the label.

She took it back. "It's Merlot. It's all I've got left. You'll need it. You have no light." She placed it back on the step. "The only lights that work are mine and the one at the end." Indeed they were the only exterior lights currently on - because the rest of us had simply not turned ours on. "I'm sorry it's dirty. It's covered in plaster. Everything is. Look at me, I'm covered in plaster!" (She wasn’t).

"Why are you covered in plaster?"

"I'm rebuilding the walls!"

"I see."

Sala meanwhile snubbed his cigarette and edged away from us. "Goodnight sir," he whispered.

"Good night Sal. You take care." I turned my back on Jolee, went through the door, turned, closed it and fumbled with the lock while spasms of terror racked my every fibre.

I need to buy some more locks. And I need to start parking elsewhere and using the private front entrance instead of the back.

God help us.

FWG

8 comments:

I think you're crazy just like me said...

Oh Gawd I'd LOVE to meet your Julie... you can keep the rest!

Automattic said...

Hahah, that was awesome. I actually laughed out loud in my apartment when I read "So, do you guys prefer girls who squirt or don't squirt?". Hilarious.

By the way... are you implying that dentists are boring by mentioning us in a list that includes fire hydrants, restaurants, and traffic lights? Cuz I guess I don't blame you...

Oh, and one more thing, I recently moved to your province. I'm living in downtown Toronto... but surprisingly it sounds like Streetsville has the market cornered when it comes to crazy people...

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

Supermom - I'll tell Julie you're interested in renting her room.

Matt - Welcome to Ontariario. Keep your eyes open. You'll see your share. No disrespect intended toward dentists whatsoever. I like dentists just fine. Except for the gloves. I get a little uncomfortable when they stick a latex-encased apendage in my mouth. I don't know why.

I think you're crazy just like me said...

Im interested in giving some gentle advice in child rearing HAH!

Dave said...

Holy crap. You have GOT to have us back over there so we can check out these freaks, especially Jolee.
I would be so tempted to call Carl "Kramer". He sounds like the type. I am SO glad none of the neighbours in our new place have proven to be freaks. Of course, what do they think of us?

Flumadiddle said...

And here I just wrote about my new apartment life and how I could talk about my neighbors.

But, I don't think I'll be able to touch yours.

That sounded so naughty, didn't it?

Tee hee.

Automattic said...

Hmm... good point about the latex-covered appendages. My outlook on my career is forever changed now...

Kathleen said...

Dear heavens, your building sounds like a freak magnet. How did you sneak in? Steve-O is self-explanatory. ;-) Jolee sounds just a titch nuts. Loved the "They were going to steal their stuff back." comment. I'm damn near speechless!