Neighborhood Watch or The Tale of Old Fat Naked Guy

Dawn! It crept over the Pittsburgh horizon like a wise and careful mouse, slipping stealthily over the slopes and wriggling around the buildings of my post-college neighborhood with hungry, all-encompassing ambition...

...To illuminate the round, bald noggin of Old Fat Naked Guy, my neighbor next door, staring in my living room window.

Yes, each day he sat on his stoop, chair turned at the perfect angle to watch me work-out in the wee morning dim of my first-floor apartment.

Early rising slugs kept him company-- no doubt chatting about my pitiful lack of form-- and a layer of dew shone on his great domed brow, his sandpapery jowls, and his perpetually shirtless Buddha belly.

"Not again," I'd grumble, tossing my workout jacket over my shoulder and wiping sweat from my forehead. I glared at him through the window, vowing to remember to close the curtains next time.

Which is what I vowed every time. But at 5am, pre-coffee, vows are like rice cakes. They don't amount to much.

So he just sat there, still and unmoved by my glare, like a TV watcher who went from gameshow, to soap, to Oprah blindly... indiscriminately. Just because anything else involved rising to change the channel.

I imagine he felt this program had it all; girl in spandex plus pratfalls. The quintessential combination of sex and humor. How could I expect anything but his regular audience?

It was my own fault, really.

Of course, Old Fat Naked Guy didn't just tune-in to the Good Morning Pittsburgh Workout Comedy Show. No, he enjoyed Upstairs Housemate Walking Dog. And Downstairs Housemate Going to Work. He took in Drunk Unemployed Dude Fourth of July Party Week to our left. And the Landlord Letting Herself In Without Notice show that, while airing sporadically, did have quite a few episodes.

Yes, he sat outside on that stoop for hours, watching the world go by, sometimes nursing a beer and occasionally shouting inside to Mrs. Old Fat Naked Guy to fill in the lulls.

And like actors who don't actually know the people they touch the most, we-- the players in his regularly scheduled programming-- did not actually know his name.

This was not because we hadn't spoken to him...

It was because we couldn't understand a single word that came out of his mouth.

"Grumma tumma whaddaya mumble mum," he'd say, pointing at Upstairs Housemate's dog in the language which-- from the effects of beer, false teeth and perhaps a colorful youth-- had become all his own.

"Pardon?"

"Whaddaya grumma tumma mumble mum," came the reprise.

Upstairs Housemate would pause, then smile. "His name is Barkley," she'd say, working the art of statistical probability, wave, and then politely slip away.

Or if I were taking out the trash:

"Flamma jamma ramma lamma dingdong!" he'd shout, waving a finger with some perturbation.

"Yup, garbage day tomorrow!" I'd exclaim cheerfully, sensing I was actually getting a lecture on something, but realizing that without the first edition of the Old Fat Naked Guy to English dictionary, I would just have to miss his words of caution.

Or if my roommate's brothers were visiting:

"Sheeg glabba frabja ya blonga!"

"Good morning! Yes, it's always nice to get together with family, isn't it?" she'd sing, and flee quickly into the house.

Soon, I became a homeowner myself, leaving that first floor apartment and Old Fat Naked Guy behind. But every now and then, when I struggle into my exercise clothes and the autumn light just begins to creep into my windows, I wonder how he is.

Is he still alive, sitting there on the stoop, enjoying a whole new Fall Lineup?

Perhaps Young Man Rocking Out To Guitar Hero? Or Ambulance Driver Carting Drunk Unemployed Dude Away for Heart Testing?

Yes, I wonder... I consider those tender semi-stalking moments we shared... And the unexpected piece of wisdom he once imparted to me. Wisdom which, in his honor, I will share with you right now:
"Pooka snooka dooka ga-bungee wa-chingee!"
Just something to think about.


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Today's question: Any memorable characters in your neighborhood?

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22 comments:

Claire said...

So you never told him off for being a perv?

I think I may be the local eccentric.

Unga wunga punga chrila nayguna bwuna

Michael Rivers said...

I'm not sure I've ever heard such words of wisdom! Thanks for letting me in on the secret!!

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- Your OldFatNakedGuy-ese is a lot easier to understand than the Japanese you were working the other day. :)

No, I didn't tell him off. I wasn't sure exactly where to start, and I didn't really have the heart. He was bored, clearly, old and homebound. And cranky.

Seeing me fall off the step-aerobics stair might have been the highlight of his sad day.

Michael- Carry them with you always. :)

Thinkies said...

First visit - first post read and I'm almost on the floor in hysterics! Love the post - needed the laugh - thank you :D

Beer Drinker said...

I am that guy, not the perverted or speaking problem part, but the guy on the lawn chair with the beer in the front yard watching the neighbors. Of course, I do have an excuse for being there in that I'm watching my youngest and keeping him off the street, too.

Jenn Thorson said...

Thinkies- Heh, glad I could help-- even if it did involve gravitational problems. :)

Beer Drinker- Multi-tasking is a beautiful thing! :) Keep junior safe.

TJ Lubrano said...

What an interesting dude! Just openly staring to others and shouting the occasional wisdom thingies. I don't we have a dude like that in our neighborhood. But my dad is known as the person who has all the garden equipment haha. One time he even brought coffee to the men who worked on the pavement when we just moved. I was in my room when suddenly I hear "Coffee Anyone" and when I looked outside I saw my dad smiley broadly standing amongst all the workers.

Nicely written, as always ^_^!

MegaMan The Madman said...

I live next door to a work release center and every time my wife or any other women leaves the back door of the apartment..I here similar speech..perhaps he's been incarcerated here in Indianapolis..

Can you take him back?

Funny as always and well written..Thanks for the chuckle..Although I can't ay that I'm happy to have to clean the wet spot up off the floor..

Jenn Thorson said...

TJ- Your dad sounds like a pretty nice guy-- probably brightened the day of those workmen for sure.

MegaMan- To your request for us to take him back, I can only answer: "Ramma flamma nohamma punga!"

I'm sorry your wife has to put up with the catcalls, though! Even if untranslatable. :)

C.B. Jones said...

Most memorable character: Guy who thinks its the 1940's, who leered at me whenever I walked to and from the bus stop in grade school. I used to taunt him by doing the Black Panthers fist in the air thing.

Daisy said...

Our next door neighbor always wears these long burgundy basketball shorts (without shirt) and stands in his back yard with his little Pekingese dog. Usually the dog tries to run away and we have to listen to him scream "Cookie! COOOOOOKIEEEEEE! CookiEEE!" all morning long.

stillthinking said...

Oh, I have one of those. Of course, my show is called the "Chubby Unemployed Girl Who Doesn't Wear Pants". With my viewer/stalker, I don't really care if he watches me as if he really is inspired to spy on me sitting on my computer all day, he is more than welcome to. His accent is some indistinguishable Eastern European blend. All your posts make me laugh, but I especially liked this one. Thanks!

Jenn Thorson said...

CB Jones- I bet he thought the Panthers were recruiting younger and younger every day. :)

Daisy- Heh. Any macho image pretty much goes out the window there, doesn't it?

Still- With unemployment comes anti-pants freedoms, eh? :) Maybe your watcher didn't have that sort of thing back where he was originally from in Eastern Europe.

IndigoWrath said...

"Pooka snooka dooka ga-bungee wa-chingee!" ?

Well that's fine, but did he say what time?

Jenn Thorson said...

Indigo- Er, well, just some very deep, wise, mind-blowingly important life-shattering stuff you know, and...

Okay, okay, I confess!-- I have no clue either! :) You've got me!

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

I guess I need to start wearing a shirt.

Seriously, though, I love this line: "It crept over the Pittsburgh horizon like a wise and careful mouse...." It makes your blog sound like a Blog Noir. Nice bit of writing throughout, Jenn.

Jenn Thorson said...

Mike- Heh, blog noir-- excellent! Maybe I need to not watch so many films on Turner Classic Movies, huh? :)

nonamedufus said...

A love story for our times: "those tender semi-stalking moments we shared". I laughed, I cri... well, I laughed.

Deray said...

He is still alive but now lives in Tucson! There is a guy just like that in my apartment complex. He always wear baby blue boxers, seats on his balcony, that faces the parking lot and does small talk to anyone that crosses by. He welcomed me to the complex...3 years after I moved in, jajajajaja. Great post Jenn!

Jenn Thorson said...

Dufus- Heh, good because I'd worry about your emotional stability if it caused you to weep. :)

DeRay- Ah, yes, the no-shirt-but-boxers ensemble. It's a classic!

Tony Single said...

Oh Jenn, I laughed until I cried... and then realised I was crying, so I stopped. Then I laughed some more. I'm still giggling like an idiot now. How can that be?

Jenn Thorson said...

Tony- Because you keep hitting that laughing gas, man! Put the darned thing down. Turn the canister off. It'll kill you one day. We don't want that. You seem like a really likable guy, plus who will cartoon the pigs? :)