I’m jumping the gun a little with my birthday greeting to myself. I don’t actually turn 44 until 12:34 p.m. (EDST), but Steph and Susie have already lavished gifts on me–books, a Samsung MP3 player, a new tape recorder, and lunch at Tommy’s Diner later on. The books included His Holiness, which is Carl Bernstein’s biography of Pope John Paul II. Another was a book of sacred love poetry throughout the ages.
Both Steph and I panicked when we took the MP3 player out of the case and began pushing buttons. On the LCD screen, the only thing we could get was an icon of a battery with a diagonal slash through it. I was at my wit’s end, but finally I saw there was a slip of paper in the package with Samsung’s customer service number. While Steph and Susie were downstairs grooming Diana the Springer spaniel (I think they’re still at it right now, but I’ve cranked up Bob Dylan on the boombox to drown out Diana’s peals of joy). As it turned out, all I needed to do was plug the MP3 into the jack on my CPU and wait for about six hours while the battery charges. It’s kind of like a cell phone.
Steph and I are going out for “dinner and a movie” later this afternoon. For the second time this year, I’m seeing a first-run movie. This time it’s The Hoax, which is about Clifford Irving and his bogus “autobiography” of Howard Hughes.
Next, to the “Springertown” allusion above. In the house to the immediate right of ours is a family who hasn’t paid rent (they have the same landlord we do) since before Christmas. They have no visible means of support, and Dad is currently in the county jail. Their four kids (three girls and one boy) are okay–Susie has befriended Georgia, the little girl who is about seven or eight. Susie doesn’t care much for the 13-year-old daughter, Tawny. (Great name–she has a great future in the adult entertainment industry. Tawny is what you name your daughter if you want her to be a topless dancer.)
All of the above are tolerable–the bipeds are all right. They have four or five dogs, most of which are tied up outside 24/7, regardless of the weather. This means one or more of the dogs are howling, barking, or whimpering. They are tied up practically under Susie’s bedroom window, so we gave her a big fan to generate some white noise to offset the barking.
I hate cruelty to animals, but it’s gotten to the point where I wish one of my ex-neighbors lived around here. In the summer of ’83, I was living in Somerville, Mass. in Tufts University’s student ghetto. I was typesetting The Harvard Crimson, which meant I was usually working all night, and when I was home, I was usually too exhausted to do much except sleep. Usually I was a Flying Dutchman eternally back and forth between Cambridge and Somerville.
Anyway (let’s get back on point, shall we?), there was a dog two or so doors down from my place that barked practically round the clock. If it ever slept, I didn’t know about it. I could tune it out, since I was rarely awake when I was at home.
But one night, I didn’t have to go in to work, so I was sitting up with the late-night movie and some junk food. I could hear the dog outside, but I figured I could turn up the TV if the dog got on my nerves too much.
So the dog kept barking, and then suddenly I heard a click-click outside, followed by a single gunshot.
Nobody ever came forward to ‘fess up about killing that dog. I’m sure he would have gotten a ticker-tape parade down our block.