Those of you who actually know me (lucky devils!) have seen that I live in an apartment building that can best be described as "whacky. " I don't have neighbors, but rather "a cast of lovable characters." And because of the building's set up - open hallways, all facing a big courtyard with a pool -it seems that you can't step outside without running into one of them. There's Terry, the old woman who stands at 4'10", wears a terry cloth tube top/shorts one piece year round, and sells her prescription pain killers to my friends. And Melanie who lives upstairs, a former child actor who takes our bottles and cans to the recycling center for us, and has a talkative parrot with no feathers.
In college, a friend of mine asked, "Why is everything in your life so weird?" I still don't know the answer to that, but I believe that my neighbors help me uphold that standard of weirdness.
And one of the best, one of the classic neighbors, Conspiracy Theory Brian, died last week. And so to say goodbye, here is a little story about him.
He lived alone, and was probably in his sixties? He could've been 50 for all I know. He was sick with kidney problems and just looked really unhealthy so it was hard to tell his age.
Some things about him:
He claims he was given the death penalty in Texas for smoking pot but used his charm and savvy to con his way out of it.
He said the CIA came to him for answers.
Several times a week, he would tape newspaper articles to our front door when the topics concerned big entertainment companies, particularly NBC. He was trying to warn Devin about the secret plots of Jeff Zucker and Ben Silverman.
He feared the Scientologists were out to get him. Now this, I believed. I'm pretty sure they're after all of us.
So one day a few months ago, he told Melanie, who lives in the apartment next door, "If you ever see the newspapers piling up outside my front door, you'll know something's wrong. You'll know they've come for me."
And of course, in the next few days, one newspaper after the next collects at his doorstep, causing Melanie to panic. She pounds on his front door, nobody answers. So she calls the fire department. They show up, and break into his apartment...and he's just sitting there, watching TV. Perfectly fine (you know, as fine as he could be). He apparently just felt like keeping to himself for a while.
Now, few people had ever been inside his apartment. And when the fire fighters broke in, they were, I'd imagine, pretty horrified. Reportedly, his place was unfit for human life. Filthy. Full of bugs. Decades worth of newspapers stacked to the ceiling. He'd rigged a booby trap at his front door- needles swung down to prick the intruders, thus capturing their DNA for him to inspect later and make a positive identification.
The owners of the building were called in, and they were furious at the sight of the place. They told him he had 4 days to get it in proper condition or he'd be kicked out. And this, in actuality, would probably mean he'd end up on the streets. There was no way he could handle apartment hunting, no way he could afford anything but the rent-controlled place he'd been in for 30 years. And he had no family or anyone to help him out.
But he did have his neighbors! And we all cared. Our friend a few doors over called in a cleaning crew to scrub down the place. Of course, when they showed up and saw the state of it, they refused to take the job for their original quote. They'd need hundreds more.
Fortunately, and quite miraculously, Conspiracy Theory Brian was able to come up with the rest of the money needed to pay the cleaners. But he didn't pay by cash or check. No, a man like him could only find that money from the most unlikely source...
A Gold Coin. Conjured up from the depths of his apartment. And then pawned for like $800.
Ah, we'll miss ya.