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.
I was walking Daisy J Dog the other day and had gotten three buildings down from my own when Daisy sniffed at a scratchy patch of crabgrass and squatted delicately to pee. An older gentleman - someone I didn't recognize from the neighborhood, although the building was having an open house so he may have been there to look at the place - sat on the cement front steps. I smiled and nodded. He nodded back.
Daisy finished and we started along our merry way when I heard him call something after me.
I turned around. I'm sorry?
I said aren't you going to pick that up?
I looked at him, confused, and then realized what he meant. Oh, she peed. She didn't poop.
I saw her poop! he said, standing up and coming toward me.
I turned and pointed at the grass, which was now covered in a fine patina of pee. Look. No poop.
He bent down to investigate. I know it's in here somewhere.
This particular patch of grass was like a crew cut - tight against the ground and short. There was nowhere for poop to hide.
Sir, I explained as calmly as I could, this is a 50-pound pit bull. You can tell when she poops.
Maybe you kicked it under the bushes! he said, walking an additional four feet to the hedges and getting down on his hands and knees to look for the Mystery Poop.
I looked down at my feet. I'm wearing flip-flops.
He stood up and brushed himself off. Where is it? he demanded.
I shook my head and held up my roll of poop bags. Sir, there is nothing that annoys me more than people who don't pick up after their dog. But I always pick up after my dog.
I know there was poop! he said with an edge of desperation in his voice.
Perhaps, I said, I'm a Poop Mystic. And I made it disappear.
Before I turned around to continue our walk, I saw him sit back on the steps and scratch his head, confused.
I would be tormented too, if I was hallucinating poo.
And yes, we are LIVE tonight! Check out BetheMarriage LIVE (On Ice!) at 8pm PST!
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.
When I moved in to The Detective Agency, Will told me three things:
1. The neighbors are like vampires. Do not invite them inside the house.
2. Sometimes the septic system backs up into the tub.*
3. Keep the drapes shut and make sure that the shade is pulled down on the bathroom window before showering. Because one of our neighbors is a Peeping Tom.
This apartment has a long history. It's been handed down from person to person for the past twenty years, tracing back to Will's ex-fiancee's half-sister's boyfriend. Along with a set of keys and a reminder that the landlady will go through the garbage for hidden treasures, so make sure to throw your porn in the neighbor's trash or donate it to the porn-less during the holidays, those three rules should be carved in stone and mounted our doorframe like a Hobo Mezuzah.
When I wake up in the morning or before I shower for the day, I hear a cough, I catch a whiff of cigarette smoke, and sure enough, there's Tom, lurking like a Peeping Ninja. Americans sometimes get branded as weak and lazy, but wind, rain, sleet or snow, nothing deters our man. His level of commitment to his craft is commendable. And with the downturn in the economy and the rise of unemployment, many people suddenly have more time and less cash. We're going to need to find cheaper hobbies. So with that in mind, I've compiled a list of five do's and don'ts for the beginning Peeper.
1. DON'T peep when you have a cold. You may be able to camouflage yourself in the bushes, but your hacking cough and runny nose will give you away. If you're going to peep while sick, stock up on Nyquil. Sure, you might pass out in the bushes and get discovered, but people will just think you're a drunk!
2. DO vary your wardrobe. Yes, the Internet these days is all about "branding" but branding doesn't work well as a Peeper. If you're going to be lurking in trees and around windows, don't wear a signature leather vest and aviator sunglasses unless you can fake that you've have amnesia for 25 years and think that you're an extra in "Magnum, P.I." This is why mimes and furries don't have successful peeping careers.
3. DON'T smoke. Don't you watch Law & Order: CSI? They always catch the bad guy from cigarette butts left at the crime scene. If you're going to smoke, wear lipstick. As a woman, you'll look good for your mug shot. As a man, at least you'll confuse them.
4. DO have business. Improv comics and actors talk about having "business" - something they're doing when opening a scene. Make up your story beforehand and practice acting like you're doing that instead of peeping. This the one case where a mime can corner the peeping market. Get trapped in a box right outside your intended's window.
Note: Make sure that your business seems plausible, and use it only for peeping in medias res. Do not use it for post-peeping purposes, such as coming to my side door and asking me if my water pressure is okay because "I heard you taking a shower."
5. DON'T peep at home. Unless you live in a building like mine, which is the weird, creepy building on the nicest block. Then we just advertise that as A Unique Brand of Hobo Charm.
And that's it for Advice You'll (Hopefully) Never Use, with your host the slackmistress. Thanks for not playing along!
*This is a lie. Not that it's not true, but a lie in that Will didn't tell me this. Details here.
Yesterday, I left two packages - in priority mail boxes, clearly marked with the recipient's address and my own - at my front door. I had scheduled a pickup online with USPS.com.
At 8pm, they were still in front of my house.
Perplexed, I retrieved the two boxes and went inside to schedule another delivery.
Neighbor: Oh good! You still have your packages!
Me: Excuse me?
Neighbor: Your packages! The Postlady tried to take them yesterday.
Neighbor: I told her not to!
Me: [sets down packages at the front door] I want her to take them.
Neighbor: But they're yours!
Me: That I'm sending. To someone else.
Neighbor: You try to do someone a favor...
Now re-read the above with the following in mind:
This neighbor works.
At the post office.
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.
I was sitting on the couch, working on my laptop when I heard my neighbors G. and N. on the front stoop. G. is our erstwhile building manager, although he's mostly known for feeding salads to the stray cats in back and wondering if he should date that girl he met at the gang bang. N., well N. lives in the apartment over G. and I'm not sure what he does except wander along the darkened streets of Los Angeles in his leather cap and big sunglasses and hide behind trees. Although upon telling him that Will and I were getting married in Vegas he related the story of how he chauffeured an underaged couple* across the desert to get married. So maybe he runs the Romeo & Juliet Taxicab Agency.
G: I wish they wouldn't dump these coupons all over the hallway.
[Sounds of G. picking up the debris and dumping it in the recycling bin.]
N: You're throwing out money, y'know.
G: It's garbage.
N: No, some people do really well with the coupons.
G: Whaddya mean?
N: They gotta system. They got it all figured out.
G: But you gotta go to all of these different stores. And spend money.
N: You gotta spend money to make money.
There you go, the first step to financial freedom, according to my neighbors. Although none of them seem to have jobs, and they all have a roof over their head, take vacations, and ferry underaged couples to Vegas. Maybe I'm the crazy one.
*I would like to take a moment to point out that he is the less creepy of the two people who live in that apartment.