Recently in metamuville Category

listing badly

I listed my Metamuville house last week, and then I fled it. I crashed in Seattle and visited friends for two days while random sales reps from Confederated Realty Morons showed prospective buyers my digs. When I returned home, I found changes.

Some things were merely annoying. For instance, I purposefully left lights on. Who went around and turned them all off? And if you're going to open a cabinet, please close it.

Some things were appalling. Whoever dropped a deuce in my master bath, you really needed to flush twice.

And some things were psychotic. That same toilet was clogged on next use. When I plunged it, I found a handful of change in the bowl.

And people still ask me why I'm a recluse.

mr. lonely

When I was a kid, the twin pillars of my torture were Barry Manilow (Mom) and Bobby Vinton (Dad). You probably don't know Bobby Vinton, so allow me to share.

I'm very sorry.

I consider wallpaper removal the single most unpleasant job I've ever attempted. Breaking up concrete with a sledgehammer? Digging ditches? Child, please. Wallpaper removal is horrible. It's sweaty, it's physically painful, it's frustrating, and when you're done, you've probably damaged your drywall. I swore to never do it again. Enter Pete, my wallpaper-removal guy and the reason I've had "I'm Mr. Lonely" in my head all week.

Around 60 and a resident of Metamuville, Pete has extended his one-day stay to four days. Near as I can tell, this is so he can hang around me more and ask me about myself, my house, my dog, etc. while I attempt to have an online meeting. Pete doesn't let little things like headphones and my active conversation with a clearly visible person stop him. He is driving me insane.

Me, to my monitor: "So Jason, I think it's critical that we—"


At this point, I would chew my own leg off to extricate myself from his presence. He keeps inventing reasons to talk to me, to return the next day. And he bought a $50 tape gun just because he thinks I'll need one. "I'll lend you this tape gun," he said. "I live just down the street. It's no problem for me to come back."

"Oh, I'll just buy it from you," I replied. He was visibly crushed. Check and mate.

my literacy program

Longtime readers may recall the sign next to my front door.

Yesterday, it failed me. It failed me in the worst way imaginable:

  1. The knock occurred during a business call.
  2. It was religious missionaries knockin'.
Despite my living at the end of the Earth, Jehovah's Witnesses used to come to my door at least twice a year. Apparently Jehovah considers me a huge "get." Since the sign went up three years ago, I hadn't heard a peep from them. Not until yesterday.

I opened the door and was instantaneously awash in their banalities. I tapped on the sign with the business end of the baseball bat in my hand. "Be sure to read the fine print."

They looked at the sign.

"Sound out the words," I coached.

Their eyes grew three sizes that day. Suddenly flustered, they apologized and scampered off.

beautiful girls

Have you ever dated a physically beautiful person, and over time, you couldn't even see the beauty anymore because the rest of the relationship was utter crap? I have. And in a metaphorical way, I am again.

My house in Metamuville is the beautiful girl in question. I just found myself gazing across Puget Sound at the sun rising over the Cascade mountains, an undeniably beautiful sight that I'm keenly aware few get to see every morning. Yet all I could think was "Man, screw this place."

More and more lately, I find myself recalling when I spent a year putting off a breakup. For tax purposes, I stalled for an entire year. Trapping myself so unnaturally, I grew to hate her far more than she deserved. She could say merely "I'm going to get coffee," and my reaction would be What a stupid, shallow slag.

Well, I'm in that place again. And I often think of two pieces of advice I got about that woman a decade ago.

  • Dorkass: "And you think this is healthy for you?"
  • Allie: "Can you tell me one reason you're with her, other than 'she's pretty?'"

the week in entitlement, part ii

Monday I was in an online meeting when there was a knock at my door. The dogs went batshit. In order to avoid said batshit during said meetings, I had placed a sign at eye level by the door.


It has been marvelously effective, especially with missionaires, who, now disappeared, at one time interrupted me 2-3x per year. (Apparently Jesus thinks I'm a huge "get.") I figured that FedEx needed a signature, so I waded through the barking dogs to the door. Wearing my headset and trying to keep the dogs at bay, I was greeted by an old asshat extending his hand to shake mine. No introduction, no apology, just “Here’s my hand. Touch it!” Wanting whoever-he-was to die a swift, horrible death, I did not accept the handshake, so things got awkward fast. He then explained that he’s my neighbor two doors down and he wants to fish; can he please use my beach stairs?

That’s Metamuville to me. After 13 years of ignoring me, my neighbor introduces himself by 1) ignoring my sign, 2) popping in unannounced, 3) wrecking my business meeting, and 4) getting into my personal space 5) to ask a ridiculously presumptuous favor that 6) he could make unnecessary by driving a mere mile.

"Sure, go right ahead! And while you're here...I'm planning on taking an enormous dump tomorrow at 5am. Is it okay if I use your bathroom?" I replied in my imagination later, two hours too late.

school's in 'til summer!

With each year that passes since the baby boom of 2005, September becomes a more and more joyous occasion for my friends.

"When does your shrill, insatiable food-monster go to prison?" they excitedly ask one another, panting with anticipation. (Actual quote may vary. I'm going from memory.) "Mine disappears on Monday. I. Cannot. Wait!"

I'm happy for them. God knows I empathize with wanting to get away from their kids. But September means something else entirely for me: the return of the school bus parade on Metamuville Road. 10 miles long and only two lanes wide, Metamuville Road has only occasional passing zones. Combine that with a remorseless parade of old farts who refuse to pass a school bus under any circumstances, and you have a succession of heart attacks in my car. While moss forms on my tires, I unsilently blame my parent-friends for my plight. Are their kids on that bus? No. No, they are not. It is not reasonable for me to resent my friends. But fuck them anyway. I've stopped 9 times in the last quarter-mile.

Which brings us to these public service announcements:

  • Kids! Have you heard of bloody bus stops? There once was a time when we all congregated at the end of a driveway and made the world stop only once for us instead of the aforementioned 9 times. I know you're super-special angel blossoms and all, but really, you can text your friends while standing next to them.

But they will not. They will continue creep single-file behind that school bus, in a passing zone, speeding up only to tell me how dangerous it is to legally pass seven cars at once.


At my neighbors' the other night, sadly, inevitably, Caitlyn Jenner came up in conversation. I assure you that I did not bring it up. Reality-show stars from serially attention-whoring families do not particularly interest me.

They interest Madam, though. She lay in wait, ready for her time to shine.

Dad was the first victim. "So he—"

"SHE!!!!!!!" screamed Madam with non-ironic sanctimony. The Pronoun Police would do this a half-dozen more times, getting angrier each time that her outrage was having no apparent effect on people's pronouns. Perhaps that's because it seemed very much like she was masturbating on people she supposedly cares about.

Climax was achieved, at least for me, when Eve used "he" when referring to Bruce Jenner winning the gold medal in 1976.

"SHE!!!!!!!" screamed Madam.

well, there's yer problem

Madam and Eve invited me over for dinner last night.

I get along fine with my neighbors. Seattle fine. That is, we're friendly. We bleat affectionate noises at one another. We laugh at one another's jokes and consume one another's food and drink. And they could not tell you a single thing about me, because they simply do not care. "That's John. We love John," they would say. "He's from Iowa or somewhere and works with computers or something. You have got to try his Manhattan."

I like them, but they are quintessentially "Seattle people" to me. Behind every assurance that if I move they'd be devastated is my certainty that they have no idea, nor any interest in, who I am.

But Eve's parents do. Last night Dad asked about Pittsburgh, and he asked the hard questions. I admitted I find it much more comfortable there. This floored Madam and Eve. They tried to argue the social merits of Seattle. I replied by showing them my phone history.

"I've got 21 years invested in my Seattle friends. I've got 5 months invested in Pittsburgh friends. And you tell me—who do I hear from more?"

Eve considered the question and came to the only logical conclusion. "That's a really weird metric, John."


This autumn, as I've previously mentioned, I'll be staying in a loft in Pittsburgh. I chose it carefully. It's in a cool neighborhood, and I can take a water taxi to games. I've already started planning my temporary relocation, and that includes signing up for emails from my Pittsburgh apartment. Oh, they torture me.

8:42am Feb 5 Join Duopimo In Our Mahogany Leather Cigar Bar Tonight And For Every Game Day To Cheer On The Pens And Enjoy A Select Cigar And Featured Cocktail For Only $12!
Now if you'll excuse me, I'll return to wondering if I should drive 15 miles for a McDonald's lunch or stay in Metamuville and eat tomato soup again.

peninsular logic

Metamuville is, of course, a haven for the lazy. And when Dirt Glazowski (himself no slouch in the slouch department) moved to Minnesota this year, he left me at the mercy of the Metamuville workforce.

I had to hire a stoner to mow my lawn.

It's going about as well as you would expect. Three weeks ago, I needed a mow. Two weeks ago, I finally called him. He's visited three times, called four times. It's too rainy. It's too sunny. His blade broke. His kid's sick. He's sick of kids. You name it, I've heard it. Meanwhile, deer are nesting in my lawn.

He finally showed up yesterday and mowed about a third of my lawn when there was a knock at my door. His mower's spark plug had broken clean in two. I agreed I'd never seen such a thing. And as he took his leave of me—promising to finish the job...sometime...indeterminate....maybe—he made a request that could only happen in Metamuville:

He asked to be paid for the part he'd mowed.

cinco de mayo

Where I live is achingly white.

I don't mean Seattle. Lily-white Seattle is a veritable melting pot compared to where I live, the Kitsap Peninsula. The only times I've seen non-whites in Metamuville in 10 years is when I've hosted or hired them. Or, in d'Andre's case, when they briefly showed up to empty my refrigerator.

It's day-old dishwater dull.

When white people make every decision, travesties like this happen. The winners in the Best of Kitsap Reader Poll:

best of kitsap.png

I assure you that every one of those places sucks. They suck day-old dishwater.

"What the peninsula needs," I told a friend, "is an immediate infusion of gays and Mexicans. They'd change those poll results in about two minutes."

This is my new mission. I'm going to kill two birds and recruit gay Mexicans. I know exactly one, but I'm assured that he's really cute, so that's a start.

With any luck, Cinco de Mayo is gonna kick ass in a couple years.

unemployment vs. nonemployment

One of the great ironies of my life is that I spend my work days trying in vain to fill well-paying positions, then my evenings trying in vain to talk unemployed men into doing odd jobs for pay, and then I turn on the evening news and hear how there are no jobs. I know that unemployment is at 10%. Sometimes I just can't feel it.

Let's set aside the $70/hour jobs I can't give away. Let us assume that the skills required are so niche that these professions are utterly recession-proof.

Let's talk about the $25/hour job tearing up my bedroom floor, winterizing my house, etc. No particular skills are required—only time that I do not possess. And so I've offered this work to three unemployed men. No response. Bupkis. Crickets.

I'm just waiting for one of them to bemoan how rough it is out there. Please, God, let that happen.

Part of my problem is that I live on a peninsula where not working is the local culture, nay, art form. I truly know more adults without jobs than with. And even if I hire a plumber to, say, fix a drain on Tuesday, I have zero expectation that I will ever hear from him again. Fixing drains is work, after all. And in on the Metamuville peninsula, locals treat work arrangements like the rest of us treat the statement "let's do lunch."

"Oh, your drain? You didn't think I was really going to fix that, did you? I was just being polite."

1:30am musings over jalapeno poppers

The last time I got the munchies at midnight and decided to go to Jack in the Box, I walked outside only to discover a fire five feet from my house. "Wow, it's a good thing I'm such an enormous pig!" I thought as I put out the fire. "Otherwise, I probably never would have gotten the chance to use a fire extinguisher in my life!"

Last night, I was driving to Jack in the Box when I noticed something funky about an oncoming car. And by "funky," I mean "an enormous shard of metal was hanging three feet into my lane." I swerved to avoid him, then ran over a debris field of twisted metal and broken glass. That's when I noticed the other car, wrecked in the end of someone's driveway. The home owner was rushing out to the scene. While she called 911, I chased after the other car, caught up to him, videotaped him, and got his license plate.

The two rear-ended octogenarians are, I'm told this morning, hurting but okay. Which leaves me to complain about the following people:

  • Octogenarian drivers. Sure, for all I know, they were driving skillfully and predictably. This would make them unprecedented in the annals of Metamuville Road. Where there is an accident, there is invariably a whiff of Geritol and Brylcreem.
  • Hit and run drivers. If you're going to be an asshole, at least do the world the courtesy of outrunning a Prius.
  • Cops. Our hero arrived well before the ambulance. His priority: he wanted to know what I'd found about the hit and run driver, then left the scene to go after him.

    Road: still littered with debris.

    Old people: still strapped unconscious into their wrecked car. Classy.

  • Christians. As the scene played out and the loved ones assembled, it became clear that they were 1) Christian and 2) inclined to view me with some sort of confirmation bias. My involvement, you see, was evidence of "Christ's hand at work." Yep. I hear that all the time.
"Nah," I said. "I just like to help bad things happen to bad people." Which, on reflection, I suppose is merely a semantic difference.

them damned kids

144GabbyHayes.jpgWhen Dirt and I want to make fun of Metamuville geriatrics, which is often, we invoke our best Gabby Hayes voice and cackle "They wuz goin' a HUNNERD MILES AN HOUR!" Why? Because that's how they describe every driver who maintains the speed limit. Never 70. Never 110. 100, every single time.

Today I legally passed just such a coot. He was doing 42 in a 50. Importantly, it used to be a 55 mph road, but after the geriatrics killed three people in a year, they decided to force the county to lower the limit. So they organized as only Old White Farts with Overdeveloped Senses of Entitlement (OWFOSEs) can, and now instead of driving 42 in a 55, they drive 42 in a 50.

A few minutes later, I stopped at the Metamuville store. And for the third time in my life, a Metamuville OWFOSE saw fit to chase me down and chew me out.

"You wuz goin' a HUNNERD MILES AN HOUR!" he concluded.

"A hundred miles an hour. In a Prius. Uphill," I responded.

"I don't care WHERE you wuz goin."


metamuville, defined

"It's kind of hard to describe Metamuville," I said, twirling my tawny, hoping this gesture made me look thoughtful and sophisticated and not, as was the case, bumbling and inarticulate. And so I told her about Percy. About the old white farts with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement (OWFOSE). About the ruling geriatric clique. About the OWFOSEs who, after I pass them legally, have thrice followed me home to berate my dangerousness.

"So in Metamuville, the old farts shake their fists and yell at you to get off your lawn?"

That must be what being articulate is like.

the enemy of his enemy

As I pulled into the Metamuville Grocery, a county sheriff was backing out of a parking space across the lot from my own. As he shifted from R to D, his cruiser was ambushed by a geriatric couple, whose arms were flailing so frantically that for a fleeting moment, I could have sworn I saw the couple levitate. I was no more interested in Elmer and Agnes than I am in any other local old farts, and I walked toward the store. And then I became aware that they were pointing toward me and my Jeep.

Straining, I could only get bits and pieces of the conversation. I've filled in the gaps as best I could.

"Blah blah blah, SO FAST, blah blah blah, we're unfathomably entitled, 100 MILES AN HOUR, blah blah, me me me, gimme gimme gimme, ALL THE TIME, blah blah blah, Elmer hasn't gotten it up since Eisenhower's first term, blah blah, EVEN PASSES US ON SPEED BUMPS, DRIVE US CRAZY."

In the middle of their histrionics, the cop, about my age, locked eyes with me and smirked. And with them still ranting, he slowly pulled away.

what we really need: bigger speed bumps

Whenever I drive through Metamuville, its senior citizens invariably give me the "lower the roof" hand signal. "SLOW DOWN!" they scream, causing me to look at the needle bisecting the "25" on my speedometer. I usually respond by gunning the engine.

Metamuville Road, which is my only means of seeing someone under the age of 104, has become their battlefield. Literally. In my five years here, I've seen three dead bodies, each killed by a Metamuville geriatric. Unfortunately, the bodies were not their own.

The Gray Mafia was recently shocked to discover that an arterial road has run past their houses for the last 60 years, and they want it gone. The constant speeding is a menace to pedestrians, they say, without a whiff of irony, about the zero pedestrians injured on this road. The county declined their demands for installing gated checkpoints every block or so. It's a public thoroughfare, the county explained, not a private country club. The Gray Mafia organized and whined until the county relented a bit, and soon speed bumps appeared.

I hate them, of course, but I especially hate that they were imposed on me by people whining about a condition that existed when we all bought our houses. I am not alone. A petition is circulating to get rid of the speed bumps. People often display petitions at the Metamuville Grocery, and so was it here.

It came down after a day. The Gray Mafia mobilized and threatened the new owner with boycotts if he allowed the petition to be displayed. One geriatric wrote him a letter howling that the owner "wants to harm my grandchildren" and "has no sense of community." Because that's what constitutes a sense of community, you see: preventing the community from considering the side of an issue with which you disagree.

Meanwhile, life and death go on. The same day the letter arrived at the store, an 80-something woman with an overdeveloped sense of community tried to park her car inside Metamuville Realty.


the ad that wasn't

Last week I was considering taking a job in another town. I didn't, but it would be a shame not to run the post I drafted just in case.

For sale: 2 bedroom, 3 bath waterfront house. Totally awesome neighbors in a vibrant, youthful community full of excellent drivers. Substantial discount given to owner of multiple Harleys and pit bulls.

geriatric road rage

Concluding the "Fuck off John" theme, with which I'm bored already

In the five years I've lived in Metamuville, I've been followed home three times. Each incident was identical: I had just legally passed a geriatric who was driving below the speed limit. In one case, the person was driving dangerously, weaving left of center and slamming on the brakes when going downhill. A few minutes after I passed him, he appeared in my driveway. He was my non-Percy neighbor, also a ROWF (Rich Old White Fuck) with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement.

"I'm your neighbor," he said, feigning cheerfulness. "I know I should have introduced myself before now," he said of three years of him ignoring me, "But I just wanted to tell you that that pass was very dangerous. You could have killed a kid."

"You mean the pass in a passing zone, on a clear day, when you were going 24 in a 35 and randomly slamming on the brakes?" I snarled. "Yeah, I'm the public menace." He started to argue legalities. I didn't let him. "Go look at the lines, asshat. And then go cut up your license. Time to hang it up."

While he argued, I walked away. That would be our last conversation.


The last incident was more entertaining. The ROWF in question sped up as I passed him, trying to make me ram head-on into an oncoming car. He then followed me aggressively. I turned away from my house and into a housing development, hoping to loop around and lose him. As I exited the development, his truck lurched to a stop in front of me, broadside, blocking my path.

Now where I'm from, this act means only one thing: someone is going to the hospital. Or, optionally, the morgue. In Seattle, this act apparently means something entirely different.

Unfortunately for the ROWF, I am not from Seattle. Even more unfortunately for him, because of my foliage-lined driveway, I keep a machete next to the driver's seat. I grabbed it and and erupted out of my car, toward him, brandishing the weapon low as I stormed straight at him. This 70-ish white guy's expression melted from sanctimonious rage into, well, the look of a 70-ish white guy who had just grossly miscalculated. He rolled up his window.

"Is your door broken or something?" I taunted. "Oh, my mistake. I thought you wanted to kick my ass." He stared at me, silent. "C'mon out. No? Nothing to say? Then kindly move your motherfuckin' car."

He did, bravely giving me the finger as I pulled away.

One of the great comforts of living in Metamuville is knowing that my enemies won't live for much longer.

when reality and blog collide

Dorkass and Frank Frank visited this weekend, and on their way here and back they suffered the drivers who, sadly, I deal with every day. Slow drivers. Weaving. Oblivious. Slamming on the brakes for no reason. "Stupid Metamuville drivers," Dorkass recounted later.

Thing is, she didn't use my town's real name. She actually said "Metamuville." I'm not sure what this means, but it ain't good.

fringe benefits

seattle electric trolley bus.jpgEight years of living in the Seattle area had me wondering if at heart I wasn't an AM-radio listening, bible-thumping, card-carrying member of the GOP. Not that my dial ever switches to AM or that I even own a bible. I just so perpetually wanted to pimp-slap the smug left, I found myself waiting in line with Republicans. Chattering airheads lectured me about my diet, recycling habits, gas-powered car, aversion to protests, etc. from the moment I arrived until the moment I left. In reaction, I even started using that most Republican of epithets: "the elite." I despise their public masturbation, their sneering presumption, their group-think. I especially despise their self-inflating answers to questions no one asked.

pickup truck gunJust when I was about to buy a red, white and blue SUV made of old growth timber by non-union labor and fueled by baby-seal head-pulp, I moved to Metamuville. Now I'm a left-wing nut. I'm one of the "librawls" I hear derided pretty much every day. Good lord, I hear he even votes both ways. Clearly, he don't support the troops. It's time for an intervention. John needs some learnin.' Conservative learnin.'

If I vote for a school levy, refuse to fertilize my lawn, or ask that racial slurs not be used around me? I'm a bleeding heart librawl. High gas prices? Librawls' fault. Requirements that you have a permit to construct a building? Damned librawls. Can't smoke in restaurants? You better believe it's the librawls. Ill-read, ill-educated cretins made these self-inflating pronouncements, parroting, I suppose, what they heard on the radio or O'Reilly.

A typical such moment: last week I was at a buffet with some Metamuvillians. The waitress took our drink order and forgot about it, and a fellow got up and got his own. "See, I ain't no librawl," he said pointedly. "A librawl would have just sat there and whined for someone else to bring them their drink, where me, I just took care of it myself."

I stared at him. So this is what passes as a friend in the post-baby-boomlet era. Shudder.

Maybe if I make fun of him.

"Yes, we're all very proud of you. But you did that server's job for her. She's going to get paid for not working. How do you reconcile that?"

"Good point. I hadn't thought of that. Damn."

Maybe Guam. I hear good things about Guam.

the damp cardboard of metamuville

Not satisfied with holding forth and bossing about in person, the ROWFs (Rich Old White Farts) of Metamuville have taken to posting homemade signs by the side of the road. "PICK UP YOUR DOG DOO!" says a piece of cardboard nailed to a telephone pole. "NO WAL-MART!" says another, as if Wal-Mart is in the habit of building in communities of 300. "SLOW! BABY DEER!" hand-drawn letters on cardboard implore. "SLOW! TWO PETS KILLED!" says the latest cardboard directive.

Let's consider the last. Their pet is wandering the road and is struck by a car. And then apparently their other pet is wandering the road and is struck by a car. Is the speed of the cars really the salient issue, here?

metamuville singles scene

What's the single life like for the thirtysomethings of old, white-farted Metamuville? I recently walked into the local grocery, and there was a stunning young woman standing in line, a ringless vision of beauty. I was incredulous.

"Are you lost?" I asked.

She was lost.

showing off the new lens

Metamuville, September 7

cruiseship 024.jpg



I spend an inordinate percentage of my time driving below the speed limit.

Metamuville Road is about nine miles long and has few passing zones, and the resident ROWFs treat its posted speed limits as if that's the speed at which their engine will reach critical mass and explode. So yesterday, quite typically and very much against my will, I was driving 42 in a 55 and 21 in a 25. When I finally had a chance to legally pass the culprit, I did, and as I passed, he swerved into my lane to "scare" me. And then he followed me. I led him away from my house, of course, and into a housing development where I could circle around. Coming at me head on, he lunged left of center and made me slam on the brakes to avoid a collision.

I don't know where this sexagenarian is from, but where I'm from, you don't do this unless you want your ass kicked. I grabbed the club I keep beside my driver's seat, and I charged out of my car and toward his, foaming with rage and spewing profanity. I'm not sure what sort of conflict he was hoping to provoke, but the look on his face suggested that events had taken a decidedly unexpected turn. "WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?!" I demanded.

"What's yours?"

"Nice retort. You pulled this stunt just for that?" I railed inarticulately about the legality of my pass and the illegality of what he just did. And then he started to speak. "Well, the way I see it--"

DEVELOPEDSENSESOFENTITLEMENT,DRIVINGSTUPIDAND WEARINGOUTMYEARS.GETOUTOFTHECARANDFINISHWHATYOU STARTEDORSHUTUPANDSTOPWASTINGMYTIME.JESUSCHRIST." Or words to that effect. I also vaguely remember predicting there'd be Geritol splattered all over his windshield, a line I've had ready for years and am most pleased to have finally had a chance to use.

Ironic that this all transpired within an hour of the below post.


On my commute yesterday morning, I saw a ROWF (Rich Old White Fart) driving a brand new, gas-guzzling Lincoln Continental with temp tags still on it, and the following bumper sticker:


Scenes like this are why I don't own a gun. (Besides, don't you mean you love their Social Security?)

percy, the euthanasia poster child

Read the entire Percy saga here -John, November 2010
• • •

Originally published August 7, 2004

"You drive ninety minutes from work in order to be 20 feet from your neighbor?" someone once remarked. Sigh. Yes I do. Our house configurations are such that I seldom have to see or hear them, not unless they come over. Which unfortunately they do.

Percy and Thelm@ are septuagenarians, if that's the one that means "in their 70s." They're typical of the residents where I live: old, middle-class white folks who retired to country beach houses. It's not my favorite demographic. If you pass them in a passing zone when they're going 45 in a 55, which is sadly zippy around here, they'll follow you home to lecture you. When new ownership bought the local grocery and put the local coffee klatch's mugs atop a doily on a nice table, she was repeatedly chewed out for having moved the mugs three feet from where they'd been since the Creation. And so on. I've been advised not to turn this into a "geriatric old fucks with overdeveloped senses of entitlement" tirade, lest I lose the reader.

But they are.


The Common North-American White-Breasted Geriatric (Anus rictus)


Which brings us to Percy, whom I first met during my house inspection. He walked over and introduced himself, then proceeded to stand there, silently and awkwardly, forcing everyone to work around him. Why he felt it his place to inject himself in my house inspection, I can only guess, but soon I would long for those early days of awkward silences between us. A brief history:

  • Day 2. While I unpack, I'm having a crew tear out the decorative outhouses (surely an oxymoron) from the front yard and hack at the 30-inch high grass the previous owner had left me. Percy ambles over and asks if I'm having them tear down my outbuilding, too. "No," I say. "I'm tearing that down someday, but until I buy my flop, I need it for storage." He huffs off.
  • Day 3. The guys are still hacking at my acre of lawn with machetes and weed-wackers. Percy comes over. "So what's your philosophy on lawn care?" he says in an off-putting, accusing manner.  What the heck does that mean, anyway? "Grass grows. I cut it." He stares at me as though I'd talked in baby talk, then asks if he can borrow my tractor in perpetuity to mow his lawn. It doesn't work, I lied. He huffs off.
  • Day 5. Percy comes over. He points out that my back yard is filled with dandelions and asks if I'm going to fertilize. I say that, given that Puget Sound's at the edge of our back yards, it doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to see that's just poisoning the water and everything in it. So until I can find a safe way of weeding, the weeds stay. He stared at me like I'd just talked in Klingon. "I'll do it for you, then," he snapped, as if my lack of know-how was the issue. No, no you won't. Under no circumstances. He huffs off. Soon my yard was mysteriously dandelion free.
  • Day 20. Percy sees me installing planters on my balcony rail. "I hope those don't blow off!" he snidely snorted in a way that somehow indicated the exact opposite sentiment. Two years later, they're still there.
  • Day 30. Percy sees me power-washing the deck. "Are you staining or painting?" Staining. "What color?" Grey. He goes inside, presumably to update Thelm@, who presumably he's got tied up in the basement. He returns. "A natural looking stain would look pretty good, too." Uh-huh. "I need to get me a power washer," he says leadingly. "Yep. I sure do. Like yours. Yep." That night, I made sure my power-washer was locked up.
  • Day 31. I'm staining. Percy oozes over. "You going to paint the house, too?"
  • Day 50. For the first of many times to come, Percy inexplicably mows his lawn about 10 feet across our property line, effectively enlarging his own tiny yard.
  • Day 100. "You said you're getting rid of that outbuilding?" Yes. "So is that girl your wife or your girlfriend?" My girlfriend. How about Thelm@? He huffs off.
  • Day 200. I've installed a new garden where previously a debris pile lay, and behind it, I'm installing a lovely lattice around my deck, hiding the ugly cement foundation. Percy walks over. "How come you bought such little plants?" Because the mature ones cost 10x as much, that's why. "Oh!" he says with enormous satisfaction, "So you're not one of those Microsoft people!"
  • Day 300. Thelm@ somehow wriggles free long enough to tell me that she loves my china cabinet. Funnily enough, I've never had them over.
  • Day 350. The inevitable happens. Percy comes over while I'm walking around naked and, frustrated by the curtain I'd put on the front door, goes to the kitchen window to peer in before knocking.
  • Day 400. It happens again. One would think that seeing me naked once would be enough negative reinforcement. Alas.
  • Day 450. Tired of the neighbor kids cutting through my yard to get to the beach, I erect a fence on my property line opposite Percy's. Percy walks across my backyard to reach me as I work. "Well," he lies transparently, "I was going to talk to my neighbor, but I guess now I have to walk around."  I guess so.
  • Day 500. I begin my kitchen remodel. Seeing the old cabinets stack up on my deck, Thelm@ comes over. "Now what this house calls for is a country kitchen." Well, I'm going with cherry and granite. Sorry. "Oh. Well. I'm sure that can be nice, too."
  • Day 550. I buy my flop and begin moving items out of the outbuilding. "Are you finally tearing it down? When?"
  • Day 600. The kitchen remodel is done. Percy comes over with a piece of junk mail that had been left in his mailbox and knocks on the door. I answer, physically obstructing him from entering. He steps into my space and actually bumps chests, trying to come in. When it becomes obvious I'm not moving, he awkwardly asks for a phone number. I walk to my desk, and he glides on into my house, uninvited. He surveys the kitchen. "I'm going to have to memorize the details so that I can describe it to Thelm@," he hints subtly.
  • Day 650. The outbuilding is being demolished. I wasn't here for it, but the boys said that Percy was throwing his own items on their burn pile and generally interfering the whole time, even trying to get them to remove plants he doesn't like ("You taking those ferns out? Ferns are just weeds, you know.") and my clothesline rack. Mind you, these are my things. The crew was taken aback. "Dude," one finally said incredulously, "You live in a freakin' double-wide." They said he huffed off.

To be continued.


metamuville crime wave!

MetamuMart Grocery, Trading Post & Provisions was hit last week. Thieves punched out a window and stole some beer and, tellingly, some cough medicine. Dirt Glazowski, the store owner, who's a dead ringer for Howie Long and did, in fact, play professional football for a time, has been a litany of profanity ever since. In addition to the classics, his every sentence is also peppered with the words "derelict," "reprobate," and "beat into a twitching mass of pulp on the ground." His wife, Kiki, has skidded into depression. As their friend, I've taken both sides, simultaneously assuring Kiki that it'll never happen again while helping Dirt plan his installation of a Burmese tiger pit in aisle 4.

The area old farts have rallied, too. A letter to the editor in support of "the kids" Dirt and Kiki appeared, addressed "Dear Meth Heads." Okay, good start. The letter goes on to scold the thieves and their lowly place in this world. You're parasites. Addicts. Degenerates. "Apparently, all you see when you meet people like Dirt and Kiki is a source of drugs."

Unable to speak, I stabbed the sentence with my tear-soaked finger. Kiki was mortified. I showed it to the contingent of gossipy old farts always on hand. They didn't get it. Even funnier.

• • •

That the Glazowskis and I would become friends was inevitable, as we're the only people under 40—hell, under 60—in town. The first time I had them over, we watched the sun set and roasted brats in my backyard. As we pounded drinks, Dirt told stories of gridiron glory while I fawningly hung on every word and Kiki did a rather remarkable Terry Schiavo impression.

An Ohio State player blew your knee out and ended your career? Great, great!

"Was there anyone you really enjoyed hitting?" I asked.

"Mike Tomczak," he answered without hesitation. "I hated that prick."

"Same here," I replied. "Do you lie awake at night wishing you'd hit him harder, too?"

metamuville times

Originally published March 30, 2005

I certainly bash my town in this space, particularly the old farts who clogs its streets and s-l-o-w-l-y pull in front of speeding traffic. The dread Metamuville Road—straight, flat, fast—has claimed three more lives since December. And dammit, Percy is back from wintering in Arizona already, so walking around the house naked is indefinitely out. But days like yesterday are why I live here. On my way into work, I left my keys in the ignition as I stopped to give my lawyer the software he accepts in trade for his legal services. And then I again left my keys in the ignition as I picked up Ed's medication at the vet, where a bemused local store owner was picking up his golden retriever, who periodically wanders across town to hang out in the vet's waiting room. On my way home last night, I stopped at the tiny MetamuMart grocery to pick up a newspaper, and when I returned to my car, the store owner, Kiki, was wriggling into my passenger seat.

"Am I giving you a ride home?" I asked her.

"No, we're going drinkin'."

I nodded to the three bald eagles perched on the nearby pilings, and then we went drinkin.'

koffee klatch

on the upside, it's nice to be thought of as a young'un

Originally published October 5, 2004

The small town I live in is a sleepy little community composed of constipated retirees, the grocery store owners, and me. Let's call the town Metamuville. The Metamuville grocery store—along with June the realtor, Bob the postman, and Bud the mechanic—is the only business in town, and it was recently taken over by a pair of 30-somethings. To their credit, they added such innovations as vegetables and bread my dog would be able to gag down, but like me, they feel a little out of place amidst the grey. They get yelled at for changing their inventory or for moving garlic cloves to the second shelf. They get yelled at for painting the window trim. They get yelled at for daring to buy the place from the 70ish former owner. They walk on eggshells.

Every morning, the Metamuville Koffee Klatch meets, as it always has, in their back room. It is precisely what you think it is. Seniors from far and wide crowd the parking lot in order to congregate and bitch, presumably about the three young'uns in their midst. The Klatch is the local social fabric (along with something called the "Metamuville Huggers," which frightens me too much to inquire about). I've already made a pact with the store owners that, decades hence, should one of us someday spot another sitting down with the klatch, that person will have a clip or three emptied into his skull. "Don't worry about me," I tell them. "By that point, the John you knew is already dead."

Which brings us to the gruesome side of the Klatch. When a member dies, that person's picture is hung on a wall in the grocery store. As if that's not morbid enough, they attempt... comedy, I guess... by affixing a witty personal caption to each photo. Millie is "Knitting God's afghan." Ben is "Bowling strikes on the Lord's lane." Helen is "Redecorating heaven." And so forth. It's macabre. It's tasteless. It's pathetic. It's maudlin. The owners want it off their wall, but they know that doing so would ostracize them from the community. So sadly, it's also permanent.

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