I once had a neighbor named Mariah.
I had just moved, leaving behind a city and my roommates. The first weekend in my apartment, I was missing the constant chatter that meant no TV episode could ever truly be watched, but was excited about this new, mature stage of my life. This was my big step into independence. I would be a real adult now. Nothing could stop me now!
The first time I took out the trash, I locked myself out.
I had been weekend-cleaning like a grown-up. Listening to my time-warp playlist like…a cool person? The high pitched voices of the Jackson Five mocked me from the screened windows too high up to reach as I shook the door with both hands and begged for it to open.
I had no phone, no keys, no wallet. I knew no one in town.
Wincing, I knocked on my neighbor’s door.
The door opened to reveal a girl in her young twenties and an apartment covered in reggae posters.
“The landlord doesn’t give out his number,” she said, following me outside, “and the property manager’s closed on weekends.”
I let out a pitiful groan.
She pointed at my windows. “Oh, we can totally get you inside.”
I was skeptical. “Aren’t the screens screwed in? And it’s too high.”
With a dismissive wave of her hand, she went back into her apartment, presumably for a chair. Instead, she came back out with a driver’s license. She reached above her head and started jimmying the screen. At second glance, I realized the driver’s license was not hers.
She must have seen the look on my face. “Don’t worry,” she said, “my boyfriend showed me how to do this.”
This made me worry for other reasons.
Mariah paused. “Is that…the BeeGees?”
I went red. “Um…”
“Hell. Yeah. I love the BeeGees.” She danced along to Night Fever as she worked.
The screen popped out. I let out an embarrassingly excited, “Look! Look! You did it!!!”
Without a word, she threaded her fingers together and we shared the look of two former cheerleaders (or…burglars? Mariah, what is your life?), and she heaved me up and through the window. I grunted as I tumbled through and landed in an awkward crash of limbs and furniture.
I limped-ran over to the door and threw it open in triumph. “We did it!” I exclaimed, as though my watching her had been a meaningful part of the effort.
Mariah wiped the dirt off her fake ID and slipped it back into her jean pocket. All in a day’s work, her casual smile seemed to say. She said nothing, just swung her hips to the final notes of the song. I did my own little dance of happiness that was nowhere near as graceful.
Then, she wandered off to lock her boyfriend out of their apartment until he banged on the door, demanding and then begging to be let in. He might have known how to get through windows, but apparently wouldn’t dare climb through Mariah’s windows while she was peeved at him.
That was my only interaction with Mariah before she moved away, but here are some things I know in my heart to be true about her:
1. If I needed to flee town in the midst of a movie-like, every-man-for-himself disaster, Mariah would have a seat in my car. Her skills would be important to the survival squad as we road-tripped through destruction. She’d hot wire cars and siphon gasoline, all while humming disco standards.
2. In a heist, Mariah wouldn’t break a sweat as she lock-picked a safe, even as police sirens drew closer and closer. She would spend the entire time bickering with her boyfriend as he patched together some quick flash-bang explosives.
3. In a zombie attack, Mariah would inevitably lock her boyfriend out of the compound while zombies advanced. He would yell to be let back in, but she would calmly demand he apologize first. He would scream, “I’m sorry, okay?” This would not be good enough. She’d tell him he didn’t sound like he meant it as the zombies drew near and her boyfriend clawed frantically at the door. She’d finally open the door, letting her boyfriend collapse inside while she smoked a couple reaching zombies without effort. When she locked up after them, over the sound of zombie-hands pawing at the door, she’d put her hands on her hips and say, “I deserve respect around this compound.” And they’d yell at each other all the way to the kitchen.
4. Mariah is the coolest neighbor I will ever have.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy, Apartment Horror Stories, Part One: Santa Barbara and the Microwave and Apartment Horror Stories, Part Two: San Francisco and Raccoon Warfare.
Throwing it to you: Have you ever had an intriguing neighbor? Ever locked yourself out?