Safe at Home
I’ve recently been criticized because I refused to give out my home address to my supervisor, who was inquiring suspiciously (in my opinion) and, besides, don’t you have it on file?
I’ve been nervous about giving out my address before (even to friends and lovers), and feel I have good reasons. Those reasons are: My father, my ex girlfriends, a few enemies, and a lawnmower.
The primary reason is thanks to my father’s actions. We once had a lucrative family business in the DC area, founded in 1932 by my grandfather. When the old man died in 76, my father took it over and spent the next ten years dismantling the company. He then vanished without a trace, taking several million dollars with him. At the time, we were employing about 70 folks – several of which had been with the company since the 30’s, spending their whole lives working for my family. Dad cleaned out the payroll as well as the pension accounts when he took off, so isn’t that a little piece of sunshine? You work for a family from 1932 to 1986 and then the boss leaves with your pension and your last paycheck. There are some real heartbreaking stories there where people killed themselves, lost their houses, and so on.
Needless to say, this created something of a…well…blood feud. I think that’s a good word for it. Until I left home in 92, mom and I were plagued by disgruntled former employees. They’d come to our house, they’d crank call us, they’d veer their cars at us. There were some cases of vandalism and many, many threats.
Through my own machinations (because I want my current business to do better), I’ve dredged up all the old family shit and fed it to several major newspapers and NPR, with some positive bites. Already, during the researching phase, one of the people interviewing me has run into some sticky shit. And the first red flags have gone up – the blood feud carries on simply because I have the same last name and, therefore, carry the dark legacy of my dad’s evil fuckery.
But that’s not fun stuff. The entertaining reasons I don’t give out my address come from my own misguided youth.
Exhibit one: The Wee Irish Lass
Well, she wasn’t Irish. But she wanted to be, so she dyed her hair red and affected an atrociously fake accent. And everything was all, “This is how the Irish do it!” She was good in bed and she wanted to fuck all the time, so I tolerated her for about four months. The fake Irish accent and Tori Amos hair was strangely sexy, too. To be honest, I was somewhat in awe of her dedication to the illusion. She’d talk fake Irish in bed. She was faking it even in private life.
Now, I’m bad with women. Always have been. I don’t understand them, they don’t understand me, we fight, we cry, we break up. It’s mostly their fault, because women are stupid cows. The Irish lass didn’t take kindly to the breakup, though. While I was out enjoying my freedom by drinking alone deep into the night and writing a science fiction novel on an oversized legal pad, she planned her revenge. This involved crouching in the trash room across the hall from my apartment until about 3am, when I stumbled home. Then she lunged out and slammed me against the door. She waved a knife around and threatened to castrate me and, for a moment, I got The Fear. Then she started crying and I took the chance to run into my apartment and bolt the door.
I don’t know what happened to her, but I spent the rest of my time at that apartment sidling in and out the door like a clumsy spy from a MacGyver episode.
Exhibit Two: The Second Sword
Another breakup, but this time she sent her next boyfriend to take me to pieces. I was out drinking again at the old Flanagan’s in Bethesda and this fucking faggot comes up and sits next to me. I was going through a JD and coke phase for some reason…probably had seen it on TV. But it was a great combo and I was sexualizing it, as the drunken Indians say, and enjoying having the end of the bar to myself.
Being an urban creature, I’m naturally wary of any other human being within 20 feet of my person. Even if it’s some cute little girl in pigtails dragging a stuffed kitten behind her, I brace for the sensation of a knife sliding into my ribs while dexterous hands lift my wallet. So when this faggot sat next to me, I bristled and gazed intently into my drink. He ordered a Bud and then turned to me and said, “What are you drinking?”
“You have a drink right there.”
He turned to the bartender, “Another of what he’s having.”
I accepted. I drank it. And, eventually, I warmed to the stranger. At last call, we went our separate ways. I weaved my way home, wandering through the backstreets knocking over benches and stealing signs from the front of stores, and then ended up at my apartment. There was the stranger. He was leaning against my door and smiling. Then he told me that he was going out with my ex, and she’d begged him to come out and beat me up. But, he said, he kind of thought I was cool, and would “let me off with a warning.”
I moved two months later because, really.
Exhibit three: The Lawnmower.
Before the above incidents, I was attacked by an old college friend. He was a mutual friend of my roommate, who was pissed off at me. In this case, I had not given my roommate reason to hate me. This same mutual friend and I went out drinking, three months before the attack. Back in those days, I had a real job that paid real money, so I didn’t have to work on the weekends. That meant Friday 5pm to Monday 8am was 100% devoted to drunken debauchery. And Highlander reruns. This mutual friend was a bit of a drinker, and he’d drive all the way from Baltimore to cat around Bethesda with me. This was pre-gentrified Bethesda, which meant Flanagan’s was the only real bar. When Rock Bottom arrived, we all choked down their foul beer because it was cool to no longer be sitting in a dark basement. On occasion, I’d also drink at the Yacht Club, because my grandfather had some sort of mysterious deal with them. Goddamned Masons.
Well, it was Friday and we were in bad shape. My roommate was visiting his girlfriend in Ann fucking Arbor and we planned to head back to the apartment and, you know, drink everything in sight and watch Fifth Element or something.
(I’ll pause to copy the IMDB plot keywords for The Fifth Element:
Female Nudity | Humor | End Of Mankind | Cyberpunk | End Of The World
How can you say no to that? I clicked on “female nudity” and the number one hit was Band of Brothers, which is confusing.)
On the way back, we crossed through an alley and this so-called mutual friend and I stumbled across an ancient lawnmower rusting away between two Dumpsters. Our mission was clear. The mutual friend took the lawnmower and we noisily wheeled it back to the apartment, giggling like schoolgirls.
The mutual friend wheeled it into my roommate’s bedroom, and then ran to where I was setting up the VCR and started speaking in tongues before drowning himself in this cheap dessert wine I’d stolen.
Monday morning found me dragging off to work, and my roommate returning to the creepy, rusted out push mower sitting in the middle of his room. Of course, the mutual friend played dumb and said it was all my fault. It took months, but the roommate eventually used that incident as a reason to throw me out. Which was funny, since my name was on the lease. So I kicked him out, and we never spoke again. But I kept hearing shit like he was really upset, and he was going crazy, and he thought of me as the best person in his life and so on.
Ready for this shit? No kidding – his father sent me a letter saying, “If you and my son were a woman and a man, you’d be man and wife.”
That still drives me to drink.
The mutual friend sided with my roommate and also cut me off, which was fine because he was a fucking loon. But then, one night, when I was still able to innocently approach the door of my apartment, there was the mutual friend charging down the hall with the goddamned lawnmower.
“Take it! Take it!” he was screaming, then he let it go, careening at me, and raced past me screaming. I stopped the thing with my foot, watched the mutual friend slam into the stairwell, and decided to take the next day off work to try and realign my sanity.
I’ve always wanted to know the story behind that lawnmower, because that attack happened about two months after my roommate left. Maybe about five months after the initial incident. So the mutual friend had somehow retrieved the lawnmower, and had kept it for all that time. My only guess is that it became some sort of Telltale Heart for him.