More mumbles and less Maggie

A brilliant idea hit me like a happy punch in the nose while I was in the shower — a solution for the mumbly guy down the hall who always locks himself out of his room, and who's now getting evicted for it. Maybe I'm the love child of Dear Abby and Fat Albert Schweitzer.

I don't remember why I noticed it a year ago, and also don't know why it bubbled into my brain in the shower, but after I'd dried myself and put on pants I double-checked the hallway, and yes — no change from a year earlier. Sadly, tragically, I had to go to work, but work is only a block away, so I came back at lunch and talked it over with Mr Patel.

"On the third floor, where I live, there's a corner of the ancient smelly faded carpet between the radiator and the wall, where the carpet isn't nailed down any more." That's how I started, but Mr Patel didn't understand. He thought I was complaining, and said he'd send one of his sons to glue or nail the carpet to the floor.

"No, no, no," I said, "don't glue it down. It's a corner where nobody walks. Leave it loose, and put one of #306's keys under it, so he can get into his room any time he locks himself out."

Mr Patel looked at me, squinted, pointed at nothing in particular, looked at the ceiling, pointed again, and stuck out his lower lip. "That is an interesting idea. Thank you." He looked at me for a long time, then said, "But I cannot do this."

"Why not?"

"Anyone could see, when he lifts the carpet to get the key. Anyone could find that key, and get into that room. And, I believe he would lose that key, quickly. Also, loose carpet is dangerous and should be nailed down."

Jeez. It seemed like a good idea, but Mr Patel shot me down four different ways.

So I went back to my job, mulled it over some more, and had another 25-watt idea.

I argued about it inside my head. I don't do the wrong thing on purpose, except when I do, but I rarely do the right thing, either — usually I don't do anything. Happy endings are bullshit, and I'd rather not get involved, and ...

I lost that argument, though. Skipped out of work early, to walk back to the hotel and talk to Mr Patel again, before he went home for the night.

"Look," I said, "I don't know the guy in #306, but other than losing his key all the time, he's no trouble, right?"

"He is no trouble, but losing his key so often is big trouble for me."

"What if I kept his spare key?"


"Yeah, me. I'd hang his key from a nail on my wall in my room. I'd unlock his door when he needs it. I wouldn't give him the key — cuz you're right, he'd lose it — but I'd open his door and let him in, and then I'd bring the key back, and hang it on my wall for next time."

Mr Patel looked at me, and again squinted, pointed, looked up and down and sideways, and stuck out his lower lip. "This is a better idea than the carpet." he said. "If he gives you his key, as you propose, then I would let him remain." As he spoke, he was tidying his desk, getting ready to leave. "Good afternoon," he said, and locked the door.

Stupidly, I guess I'd thought Mr Patel would just hand me a copy of the key to room 306, but of course he can't do that. I'm going to have to talk to the guy myself, and he's a Section 8 head case so that might be interesting. I've talked to him in the past, or tried to, but he never talks to me. He only talks to himself, mostly in mumbles.

Well, hell smells. That man is at least 80% absent in the head, but he's present enough to understand that he's being evicted, and he'll probably understand what I'll propose.

So I did it, damn it: I went to room 306 and knocked on the door. There was no answer. Am I going to knock again tomorrow? Yeah, probably. Get off my back.

♦ ♦ ♦

I hate a lot of things, and one of them is soap operas on TV, where everyone endlessly yearns for love and proclaims love and betrays love, and there's always drama thicker than Campbell's chunky soup.

Well, today I got a romantic letter from Margaret, my maybe or ex or future girlfriend from long ago and far away, who catastrophically visited last month.

Her letter today is flowery sweet, knock me off my feet, and she says she's saving her money to move to San Francisco, and move in with me. This should be great news, but like I said, I hate soap operas — and after all the dramatics during her visit, I'm not so certain about Me and Maggie.

In her letter, she mentions again that I need to lose weight, and I won't argue; I'm so fat we failed at face-to-face sex when she visited.

She says she wants to find a therapist in San Francisco, "so my episodes won't be so many."

She apologizes for all the insults and battery and assault, or sort of apologizes, for "what happened that afternoon."

And she wonders if instead of San Francisco, we could live in Hayward, where she'd be nearer to her sister and her daughter, and "the neighborhoods are quieter there."

It's a nice letter and Maggie's a nice lady, but I don't know. Wait, even typing that, I do know — I know I don't want to move to fucking Hayward.

All I know about Hayward is that it has a BART station, so theoretically I could get back to San Francisco within maybe an hour, but I don't want to get back to San Francisco — I live here, not in the suburbs. The thought of moving to Hayward freaks me out more than Margaret's melodrama, mental health, constant insults and arguing, or even her beating me up.

So I wrote back, but my letter wasn't as sweet and romantic as hers. I didn't say it's over between us, and I hope it's not over, but I did write that she'd have to get her head straightened out, make some progress with her therapy, and promise to stop punching me, before we could be together. And we'd have to be together in San Francisco. There a BART to Hayward every twenty minutes, and she can ride it whenever she wants.

From Pathetic Life #2
Monday, July 18, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


Pathetic Life 

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