My phone rang at 6:57pm last night.
It's [the landlady], I said to Will.
He shook his head. It's your phone. You answer it.
Hi-hi-hi-hi-hi? Nina? It's [Landlady.]
How are you?
I'm fine, I respond, how are you?
I'm good. Do you watch Dr. Oz?
No, I don't watch Dr. Oz.
I look at Will helplessly. It's all you, he whispers.
You should watch Dr. Oz, [Landlady] tells me. It's an excellent program.
I'll make a note of it.
The thing is, Dr. Oz is on the computer answering questions.
He answers questions at 7 o'clock. I was wondering, since you had a computer, if you could see if he answers my question at 7 o'clock? I don't have a computer, so I can't watch.
I'm in the middle of making dinner, I tell her, but if he's recording a show online, it'll be available later. I can check and see if he's answered your question. What's the question?
My question is 'You recommend people take 10,000 steps a day but what do you if someone is in a wheelchair.'
Okay, I tell her. But just know that I'm sure he gets a ton of questions, so he may not answer yours.
Oh, it's not my question.
What do you mean it's not your question?
I mean I didn't actually ask that question.
So how do you expect him to answer a question he hasn't been asked?
She pauses for a second. Can you call him on your computer and ask him the question.
I'm sorry, I don't have time to call Dr. Oz, [Landlady.]
But if he does answer that question, I'll let you know.
I turn down the flame so our dinner simmers on the stove and fetch my laptop.
Are you submitting a question to Dr. Oz? Will asks me.
We have to leave this place, I respond.
Note: I know that there are plenty of ways to exercise while in a wheelchair, but I am not recommending exercise advice to my very frail landlady who is under the care of at least three medical professionals, one of which is an Orthopod. The only problem is that none of them are on TV or named Dr. Oz.
For three hours this morning, a rusted-out tan van with a brown 70's design and tinted windows sat parked in my driveway. I wondered if my number was up, and the Casino! Hobo was going to whisk me off for a life on the lam, a la Lost in America. I went to meet my Fate with open arms (or at least ask them to move so I could get my car out of the driveway) but alas, they were gone. But the one thing you learn about Hobos is that They Always Come Back. I don't think we've seen the last of that van.
Speaking of seeing the last of someone, on Saturday night's show, Will and I threw down the gauntlet. My charming husband is going to be out of town on Saturday, April 11th, so we're on the quest for a BetheMarriage Cohost for that evening's broadcast.
Want to apply? Just create a video and tell us where to find it. Tell us why you're the right person for the job. Do a BetheMarriage segment. Whatever you want, just get it done and posted by March 25. We'll announce the winner on our March 28th show.
Note: we have no travel budget, so you have to get your own butt to LA. But we will be putting together a prize package for the best out-of-town entry. It's like the Miss Congeniality of the Internet.
It's gorgeous here in Los Angeles today: sunny in the high 60s with a slight breeze. The second I stepped outside with Daisy J. Wonderdog I knew that we were going to take an extra-long walk. After two miles, she was beat, I had stuff to do, so we called it a morning. As I approached our building, I saw that our Casino! Hobo was in front, talking to our landlady (who he lives with) and two other women.
Good morning, I say to the group as Daisy tries to make her way through the crowd.
You've lost a lot of weight! exclaims the Casino! Hobo.
A little bit, I say.
Don't lose any more, he tells me, it's too dangerous!
I appreciate that, thank you. I dig in my pocket for my front door key.
Have you seen Confessions of a Shopaholic? he calls after me. We saw it twice yesterday!
Not yet, I say, inserting my key into the lock.
You should! Now don't lose any more weight! You and that Isla Fisher, you're what women are supposed to look like--
Thanks, I say, praying I can get inside before I hear what I know what's coming next--
--if you know what I mean. You're both exactly what I like in a woman--
I guess if this whole being-married-to-Will thing doesn't work out, I have a fallback plan in the 60-year-old Hobo who lives upstairs. If Isla doesn't get him first.
I discovered upon leaving the house to walk Daisy J. Dog today that someone had parked in front of our driveway. Okay, that's a bit of a stretch. Parking in front of someone's driveway is an unforgivable offense, unless one's driveway is like the Black Fortress from Krull, disappearing and reappearing every 24 hours in a different location. Then perhaps the driveway wasn't there when you parked.
(But then it might be difficult to find your car.)
Not my driveway.
No, this person had parked so that half of their car was blocking our driveway. Perhaps they had peeked behind the house and discovered I drive a small car. Or maybe they saw the residents of our building and figured that the state wasn't issuing Hobo Drivers' Licenses.
(Or maybe, they were just being a jerk.)
But it was the sort of parking job where you think maybe I can fit, I'll just try it and see and then you get out of your car and you pull up six inches and then you get back out and reassess and then you pull up a half an inch more. Then you start to curse the at the Universe for your fate of Being Born into a First World Country Where You Get to Own Your Very Own Silver Chevy Malibu And You Have To Find Parking On Street Cleaning Day.
(Clearly it would be easier if you were born without clean drinking water. Or feet.)
Bouncer was born into a world where dogs are disposable, so I have to eat his face off to ease the pain.
As I strolled through the neighborhood with Daisy J. Dog, I weighed my options.
I could do nothing. I didn't have to leave the house until 12:30pm for a meeting. I could probably sneak my car around the offender. I had noticed that there was a collapsed dog crate in the back of the car. Perhaps this person had stayed out late in a daring dog rescue, fighting off ninjas and zombies to break into the vivisectionist's's lab, and had returned home in the wee hours of the morning with their newly rescued canine companion, and simply hadn't seen my driveway right there.
But what it they were the evil vivisectionist, trolling the neighborhood for dogs to kidnap and the collapsed dog crate in the back of the car was a sign that they were on the lookout for their next victim? If I called Parking Enforcement to have them towed, the dog that I could save might be my very own.
I finally decided to take a picture of the offense and post it to the Internet to let you decide.
Except that when I turned the corner, the car was gone.
Thankfully, my dog was not.
(Sometimes I look for Happily Ever After wherever I can get it.)
A knock came at my car window. It turned out the guy rifling through our garbage cans wasn't one of our friendly neighborhood hobos, but the neighbor of the Questionable Yard Sale.
I got out of the car. Hey ___, how are you? I asked in that I'm asking how you are just to be polite so the only appropriate answer is I'm fine how are you?
I'm in some trouble, he confided.
That's too bad, I replied, and leaned in the car to retrieve all six of my grocery bags. I didn't want to know if I'm in some trouble meant I threw out my electric bill or I dropped a clown nose stained with a murdered boy's DNA in the garbage can by mistake so I didn't want to chance two trips. Good luck with that, I said as I struggled down the driveway, laden with packages.
I'm missing my bucket.
Maybe it was the tone of his voice, that slight, plaintive tremble that suggested the sting of tears wasn't far behind. but against my better judgment, I turned to face him.
He continued. It's grey, and it says ____'s Bucket on the side.
Oh pretty smart. But I'm sorry, I haven't seen it.
There's a reward, he tells me, so keep your eyes peeled.
I'll ask Will, I promise him, maybe he's seen it.
When Will comes home from work that evening, I tell him we have a new mystery to solve. But the case is short lived, as the bucket shows up the next day, unharmed. Maybe it was on a bender. Maybe someone took it on a joyride. Maybe someone found it and received their reward. We'll never know. The important thing is that it's safely home, with its rightful owner.
It began with a barbell. A solitary rusted-out barbell that sat under our neighbor R.'s white pickup truck with the faked "Delivery Vehicle" placard (there so he could double park.) I wondered if it was leftover from his Garage Sale days. Every Saturday, R. would haul out odds and ends - a white pleather sofa with cigarette burns, a lone bicycle tire, a side table missing a leg. It wasn't until we saw the selection of little boys' clothes and board games that we became concerned. There haven't been children in this building for over 40 years. Y'know how there's always one person in your apartment complex that you think sure, he could be a serial killer...well, in our complex, we have more than one. But this guy topped the list.
Will asked R. point-blank where the clothes had come from, and he told us that he had been dumpster-diving in Beverly Hills. Someone had told him that Garage Sales were where the money was at, and he was certain rich people in Beverly Hills threw away perfectly good stuff. We were thankful that we weren't going to have to bring in the police to find a stash of boys' underwear under his bed, but everyone in the building came to the same consensus: moving trash a couple of zip codes doesn't make it treasure. The Garage Sales stopped, and R. returned to doing whatever it is he does.
Which brings us back to the barbell. It rolled back and forth between the cracks in the driveway, shedding flakes of rust like a snakeskin. I've lived here long enough to know not to touch it. Clearly someone had a plan for this barbell. I just had to wait it out.
Sure enough, a few weeks later I pulled into the driveway to see another neighbor, P. working with the barbell. He was alternating biceps curls with swings from the bottle of Stella that sat on the bumper of R.'s white pickup truck. If the number of empty bottles were any indication, he'd been through a regular Ironman workout.
I climbed out of the car. Hey, P.
Y'wanna work in? he asked.
Nah, I'm good. The beer's a nice touch, though.
It's what Hulk Hogan does.
I couldn't disagree.
Over the next few weeks I noticed other people had joined him. Our neighbor G. added a rusted chair for dips, and the guy without teeth who doesn't live here but who always hangs out in our backyard is always handy with a spot. Morning, noon, and night someone's out there throwing around some iron, swigging a beer, and washing themselves off in our hose. Instead of going around the building to his side door, P. climbs in and out of the open window of his apartment to adjust the music and fetch another six-pack.
The biggest excuse for not going to the gym is that it's not convenient. I have no excuse.
There's a 24-Hour Hobo Fitness. In my own backyard.
More on the hobos here.
As some of you may know, we have a hobo problem in our neighborhood. We have white hobos, black hobos, young hobos and old hobos, hobos with dogs and hobos with shopping carts filled with recyclables ad blankets and hobos who rail loudly against an unjust (and unseen) oppressor.
But lately there's been a new breed of hobo in town.
Saturday night, Will and I walked up to the Starbucks at the end of the block. I watched Daisy while he went inside to fetch our drinks. (Yes, I made him order me a grande white chocolate peppermint mocha, no whip. Now no girl will ever hit on him there.) Daisy and I waited about ten yards away from the store and I watched as a man wearing an ironic t-shirt, sportjacket, and black rimmed glasses snuck behind the dumpster. I could only see him from the chest up, but there was no mistaking his furtive glance right, then left, then down as he presumably unzipped his pants and relieved himself on the asphalt.
A Hobo Hipster.
As I drove home from work today, I noticed an unkempt gentleman seated on a low wall in front of the apartment building across the street. He had what looked like a white sheet spread in his lap. Intrigued, I parked the car, headed inside our apartment and watched from the picture window.
He took what I can only imagine was a chipped china bowl from a grocery bag, retrieved a small box of cornflakes and some milk and proceeded to make himself a bowl of cereal. But that wasn't all. No, Daddy Hobobucks reached back into the bag and pulled out a small container of strawberries. He cut them up over the bowl and then tucked part of the white sheet into the collar of his ragged shirt so as not to spill and began to consume his breakfast. II thought about my cold Luna bar and the bottled water I shoved in my mouth while driving home from work and was slightly ashamed.
Hey you damned Hobos, get off my lawn! You're making me look bad.