Tuesday, April 15, 2008

jessica, we hardly knew ya ...

the entire duplex, nay, this entire plot of land smells like waffles. delicious, butter-soaked waffles with pools of maple syrup so deep that you can check your pores in each mini square reflection. i stopped outside of chuck's downstairs neighbor's apartment, huffing at her door like a syrup addict, trying to coat my brain in that smell. that smell.

jessica makes lots of smells: banana bread, garlicy red sauces, meat, cake. and really, that's about the extent of what i know about this neighbor by proxy. i've only met her once, and that was to say: hey. heard you're moving. are ya sellin' yer couch? as i peered over the railing of the deck. she's not selling, but she's willing to broker a deal involving a book case. meh. who needs another book case.

one time, in the midst of a dire bread-baking emergency, i almost knocked on her door and asked to borrow her sifter. smells like that, she would have to have a sifter. chuck's fared hardly better. they've had two conversations. and occasionally he has accidentally received pieces of her mail. outside of her car and off the premises, neither of us would recognize her. however, we created a mii that looks like her. as much as any composite sketch resembles anyone.

it's strange that i haven't really met her. i tend to meet the neighbors. the professor from the duplex on superior street and i occasionally chatted about books. an old neighbor sat on my couch drinking a bloody mary and hallucinating from a bad batch of mushrooms. when he abandoned his cat, i took it in for a few days before i tracked down a new owner. i took ruby's rabid dogs for a walk and called the police when i heard her boyfriend try to kill her. i never cared when biggie and sneaks played loverboy at 4 a.m. ... i was just glad that this time, they made the walk home from the pio without passing out in the back of a stranger's pickup truck.

i know just a handful of facts and a few things we've made up about jessica: she ...

*generates one small bag of garbage per week
*works a regular 9-5 shift, rarely wearing high heels
*occasionally urinates around 4 a.m. in a very unobtrusive way
*leaves town on the weekends
*doesn't use the washer or dryer, meaning i can unabashedly send bras down the shoot like i'm dishing out tootsie rolls in the christmas city of the north parade
*is unfettered by my repeated playings of "when you were young" at the beginner level on 'guitar hero' ...
*... and chuck's 'family guy' marathons, back-to-back-to-back nasally versions of that theme song
*talks on the phone for hours at a time, an indescernable murmurred coo that we assumed was reserved for her mother.
*has a jesus fish and supports our troops

"maybe she has a podcast," i suggested a few months ago.
[chuck googled her; she doesn't seem to.]
"maybe she reads books onto a tape for blind people," i've said.

a whole life has been invented around these small cues. we think jessica is deeply religious and her brother is in iraq. she probably cans and doesn't recycle or seem to need to. likely, she is completely wholesome and very close to her family. and that she's probably not a podcaster. probably.


Clare said...

This totally reminds me of my neighbor in my first studio apartment in Birmingham. I was convinced he was a vampire, mostly because he laughed like the count from Sesame Street and never seemed to show his face in the daylight. Or ever, for that matter--I don't think I ever actually saw him, although I did once hear him having a very dramatic fight with someone, during which he accused the other person of being the reason he was in therapy. Oh, and on the weekends he would play super-loud techno music until all hours of the night, even though I'm pretty sure he was the only one in the apartment. I met one of his friends once, who told me he was gay. Man, I sort of miss that crazy gay vampire all of a sudden.

L Sass said...

Excellent sleuthing.

Angie said...

most definitely entertaining...i think i should take up sleuthing.

kristabella said...

I love that you created a Mii for her.

Why do people put the Jesus fish on their cars? Does her Mii have a Bible or a funny Pope hat?