Hell's Half Acre

Not so very far away from the Still A Car Wash car wash in my neighborhood, is a plaza that used to play home to a good video store, grocery store and several other useful places to stop and spend time in. Lately, things have gone decidedly downscale.

The grocery store closed, unable to compete with a big box grocery store that opened a few blocks away, and is now a Dollarama where you can affordably meet all your cheap plastic item needs.

The independent video store is now, gasp, a Christian Bookroom. Although the sign says OPEN, brown paper remains in place on the windows. Either pedophile priests are being brought to justice inside or there's nun on nun action available in the back room. I'm too scared to investigate.

The only fun the plaza now holds is that my dentist is still there to welcome me and Coffee Time, recently voted most unhygienic coffee shop chain in the Greater Toronto Area, is still packing them in.

Closer to home, my neighbors have proven to be even more fun than usual. Like many, my policy has long been Just Say No To Neighbors. The woman who looks like a hooker with a tarnished heart of gold and two young men, possibly her sons, have recently become the proud owner of a contraption that looks like an old fashioned round barbecue on legs they find more suited to building fires in each evening. They sit around drinking and laughing into the wee hours with their friends. It could be worse, they could be friendly. I avoid eye contact.

The only respite from this activity was a few nights ago when the hooker's boyfriend dropped by. She and this guy who looks about 60 sat by the fire in their plastic white moulded chairs necking like teenagers. They went at it for a good couple of hours and I know this because I wanted to go out onto the deck and practice my dancing, but each time I tried, there they were, still locked on to one another. If only they had been younger and hotter, I could maybe get involved, but as it goes, these two are probably beyond even their own fantasy material.

Last night around 2 a.m., I awoke to a sound I couldn't immediately identify. It took me some time to realize that it was the sound of a hand saw cutting wood to put on the fire. I closed the window and went to bed praying for the first time in a long time, that the old guy who lives on the other side of me lives forever. At least the old fucker's quiet.


Mistress La Spliffe said...

That sounds remarkably like my old neighborhood in Toronto, and the view from my deck. Sketch is becoming as ubquitous in the T.dot as it is in Montreal, without half the charm.

John Mutford said...

As the larger stores moved out of my hometown, the dollar stores moved in. Vultures.

Fearless said...

Why do you keep spying on the neighbors?? Are you that big of a Jimmy Stewart fan??

Allison said...

You could always take your dancing to the front yard, then your neighbours, all bloggers of course, will write about you ;)

Why do people knock dollar stores? Sometimes you need cheap plastic crap. I guess I'm still in the student mindset. I agree that Coffee Time is a little sketchy though, there is one near my dentist (in Toronto) as well, how strange.

Valerie said...

Hmmm...this is giving me some "inspiration" on something to write about...

Barbara Bruederlin said...

A hand saw? That was exceedingly considerate of them, when it would have been so much faster with a chain saw.

I've had really decent neighbours for years now. On both sides of us are families with 476,634 kids under the age of 5, so they are all in bed early. Although the kids do get turfed out in the backyard at 8:00am on the weekends, I am grateful it is not 6:00.

jin said...

I can sympathize.
The neighbors to my left do the exact same thing.

Imagine a jin trying to mind her own business chanting spells naked whilst singing & dancing around a tree with a smudge stick when she's rudely disturbed by her drunk neigbors who pull their car into the yard, open the trunk & blast rap music loud enough to make your eardrums rattle.

*jin thinks about what she just typed*

Ok, so maybe I'm a weird neigbor, too. But who would you prefer living next to you?!

Chancelucky said...

The big trend in California is what they call "Live and work" developments. Basically it's shops on the bottom and condos on the top. The problem is that retail is disappearing at a scary rate. How many restaurants and coffee places can you open?

Music stores and book stores used to be my favorite places to browse....they've pretty much disappeared, particularly the independent ones that always had slightly different stuff. Shoe stores, clothing stores, stereo shops, all seem to be gone. So I get the live part, but after you build enough of these units, what do you stick downstairs? Travel agencies are no longer, corner drug stores gone, stationery stores gone, etc.

Writeprocrastinator said...

My neighbors downstairs play beer pong (they have a prominent sign that says, that they put on their landing) and fall down...when they are not yelling.

Let's do a "Strangers On A Train" thing. You get rid of mine and I'll get rid of yours.

...kidding. I think.

Flannery Alden said...

Your neighbors sound a lot like...well...us. Except for the outdoor frumping. Be we hillbillies love our fire pits and moulded chairs!

Flannery Alden said...

Rather...We hillbillies love our fire pits and moulded plastic chairs.

Tenacious S said...

I live next to an apartment building and I can tell you that your story sounds all too familiar. It was irritating until one night the Lynrd Skynrd boys got in a fight and the cops came. Then it was funny!

Mob said...

At least the noise was only a hand saw and not the rhythmic sounds of creaking moulded platic furniture set to collapse under the amorous frenzy of your hillbilly neighbors.

I'm surprised to know that you could tear yourself away from the Wii long enough to keep tabs on these people.

Dale said...

Can I move to your new neighborhood Mistress? It sounds much nicer.

It seems to be unstoppable John. Like your bid for Canada Reads!

Who else is going to spy on them Fearless? I need the work.

Maybe I should paint my dance chart on the driveway Allison, nice idea. There's nothing wrong with dollar stores if I need cheap plastic crap but right now, I'm at capacity. Coffee?

Only 'some' Valerie? I want it to be everything you need.

Maybe I'm being too harsh Barbara. This weekend, a large inflatable pool went up. What fresh hell...?

Definitely I'd choose you Jin, naked dancing and a baker extraordinaire? It's a winning combo.

Fill them with flowers I guess Chancelucky. Anything but a firepit and cheap hair dye.

You're on Write Procrastinator, we've both got the spy thing going on, it's just another step or two in the wrong direction and we're good to go.

I love me some fire too Flannery, just not every night and not when it's dangerously close to an old wooden fence and the neighbors on the other side. I bet you all look cute as bugs in your moulded chairs.

I'm all for watching a good brawl gone wrong with the cops showing up Ten. S. We're just not at that stage yet.

Who else is going to do it Mob? I mean, you're busy with your own work and Wii so I feel it's been left to me. Thanks for the imagery of the frenzied hillbillies, I'll treasure it!

X. Dell said...

Just because the couple next door is ugly, that's no excuse for not joining them in a threesome. After all, that's what alcohol is for.

You know, if you actually went outside to dance on your deck, they would have probably gone inside for privacy's sake. If not, you could have gotten your digital camera and sold them to some Internet sex site. Either way you win. The old guy on the other side isn't going to make you any money at all.

Andi said...

Yep, you win. You have the best neighbor stories ever.

The Freelance Cynic said...

They were cutting fire wood at 2am?
That's generally not the kind of wood that wakes me up in the morning

gifted typist said...

There is something sad, yet charming in that tale. I don't know whether to laugh, cry or run out and buy N. Klein's No Logo.

Coaster Punchman said...

I might have to remove your link from my family-friendly blog.

Jill said...

You are in sale at the Dollorama??
Still got a dance save for me?

Dale said...

That's my comment of the week X. Dell. I'll pass on your wit to the old guy next door and see if he laughs or says "what?".

I'd gladly sacrifice a neighbor or two (yep, that sounds just the way I wanted it to) for the sake of a story Andi!

Hahaha, hilarious Freelance. I mean, I'm sure none of us know what you mean.

Just laugh Gifted Typist and then send me the money you would have spent on tissues to dry your tears and the book.

I look to you as my moral barometer Coaster Punchman. I'm sorry. May I offer you a Dreamgirls viewing as penance?

You're off my dance card Jill. You take to long to show up. And then there's the me moving to avoid you every 3 weeks.