Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It was a rhetorical question, Errol. What have I told you about thinking?

Beer For the Shower's (follow them; they're hilarious) recent post got me reminiscing about some of the places I have lived, and the insane people who lived nearby. I had actually started a post about the one apartment in Philadelphia like a year ago, but idk if I just gave up or forgot about it or what....

In my final year in the City of Brotherly Love, my friend and I lived in a very sketchy neighbourhood in South Philadelphia. And when I say sketchy, I mean that from August 2004 to May 2005, our building was broken into and robbed twice, I was chased home by a pervert who looked alarmingly identical to the sketches of the Center City Rapist; and in the spring a young woman was beaten to death with a baseball bat 2 and a half blocks away, outside the supermarket, in broad daylight.

Good times.

It is because of that year in that apartment that I still sleep with a huge knife in my bed. 

(For the last several years I had managed to get to sleep with the knife next to my bed {that was when the scimitar was my weapon of choice}, but lately I've gone back to the knife under my pillow {the bowie knife}. Which is rather a good step forward from how I used to be while in Philadelphia and for several months after moving home--sleeping with the machete in my hand.)

Viking-Roomie and I lived on the third floor of a crumbling old brownstone that had probably once been a small house. Our one-bedroom apartment had a lot of mice, ivy on the windows that had decided it liked growing INSIDE better than growing outside, and a deck that did not look at all stable when observed from the ground (and a door to the deck that had no lock or latch of any kind, and led into the bedroom--hence the machete). Our kitchen was roughly the size of a small broom cupboard, and had a gas range that didn't work properly. You had to light it with matches or a lighter, which was totally fine lighting the stove. But lighting the oven? Not so much.

The place where the burner ignited in the oven, of course, was all the way in the back. So you basically had to get IN the oven with your lighter after turning on the gas, and then use your ninja skills to get the eff out of the oven before the air inside went up in epic flames.

Oh and the kitchen wall? Less than one foot from the front of the oven. So you couldn't actually open the oven door all the way (a trend with all the doors in that apartment, actually....).

Leaving the oven at that speed, it was PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE not to go crashing into the wall. Thankfully, we had no neighbours on the other side of that wall, just the hallway.

We had fun neighbours in that apartment.

(By "fun" I mean that it's funny now, but back then it was kind of alarming/annoying/disturbing.)

We nicknamed the couple upstairs the Noob Saibots. In the year we lived in that building, NOT ONCE did we see them. We heard them sometimes. We saw the rubbish bags piled up outside their door next to their bicycles. But we never actually saw people. Kind of like the first floor apartment in the front of the building--we never saw people living there either. Several different people seemed to live there throughout that year. I think we saw moving trucks emptying and filling up 1A like 3 or 4 times, but never saw the residents.

I wish I could say the same for the a-hole who lived in 1B.

Every morning, at about 6.00, Mr. 1B would take his dog out into the backyard, shout and swear at the poor dog for 5 - 10 minutes, and then have a coughing fit for 10 - 15 minutes.




Oh and he had this girlfriend. I would have thought she was a hooker, judging from her attire, but in my years in Philadelphia I never once saw a female hooker (although they all looked very female...). The girlfriend was definitely on something, too. My guess was crack, based on her appearance.

So yeah 1B's girlfriend would usually show up at around 2 or 3 in the morning. But 1B's buzzer didn't work, so naturally, instead of calling him or perhaps going around the back to the door in his yard, she rang everyone else's buzzer until someone came to let her in.

Viking-Roomie had enough of that scheisse after like the 5th time 1B's girlfriend woke us up, and so she went downstairs with a baseball bat to give the woman a piece of her mind.

The girlfriend never rang our buzzer after that.

I only ever bonded with the guys living downstairs from us. They got hit pretty badly when the building was robbed--the first time the burglars ran off with all of their electric guitars and amps and computers; the second time they swiped the tv's and dvd players. (I lucked out, as the robbers never made it to the third floor.) I got friendly with Dave the night he almost broke my door down.

Apparently I was having a night terror, because he said he heard blood-curdling screaming coming from the direction of my bedroom (his room was right under mine) in the middle of the night, and ran upstairs to see what was wrong. When I didn't answer the door, he presumed I was being murdered, and so he backed up to the banister and prepared to charge at the door with a flying kick to knock it down.

That's when I opened the door.

So Dave and I were friendly after that. We became even closer that spring, during the Bathroom Incident.

Our bathroom was roughly the size of a normal shower stall. Like the oven door, you couldn't actually open the bathroom door all the way because it crashed into the toilet. You also couldn't stand next to the sink because there was no room next to the toilet.

Viking-Roomie and I both suffered some nasty contusions because of the cramped bathroom space combined with the house centipede infestation. You had no room whatsoever for flailing.

Our shower provided the most heartache. About 3 feet square, it was more or less a big plastic box fitted with a drain and a shower head. And the drain was CONSTANTLY clogging up. We tried every Drano-type product you can get, and yet it still backed up. So because the edge of the shower stall was only like 2 inches high, you had about 90 seconds to shower before the water would flow out onto the bathroom floor.

After more than six months of complaints, the landlady finally deployed her infamous handyman to fix our shower.

Butch looked exactly like you would imagine someone named Butch.

He was a nice enough man, but he really REALLY sucked at building maintenance. So when he arrived to "fix the shower," Viking-Roomie and I felt more than a little nervous. He asked if we would be okay with having no shower for a day or two, as the landlady had told him to just replace the whole shower rather than fix it. We said ok, and so Butch took the apartment door off its hinges, removed the shower from the bathroom, put the door back on its hinges so that it never closed properly again, and promised he would be back with a new shower in no more than two days.

Two weeks.

And not only did we have no shower, we had a giant gaping hole in our bathroom floor. A hole that looked down into the neighbours' kitchen. Dave and I became really good buddies after that.

Butch installed the new shower like a month before we moved out. It backed up just as badly as the old one.


  1. This is such a great post Mich, the bit about Butch looking like a typical guy who'd be called Butch seriously made me laugh.

    I love the new banner too, your MS Paint art is great.

  2. When I got to the part about Butch, I sprayed a mouthful of coffee all over my desk.

    Good job.


    1. Better than through your nose. But, then, that's what good comedy goes for: nose blow.

  3. I do love your posts!! They do make me laugh :P Sounds like your adventures in that building were...interesting!? xxx

  4. Oh this was too funny!

    I always love reading your posts Mich but realised (Brit spelling) today that I've never commented to say so.
    So here goes-
    "I always love reading your posts Mich".

    On a serious note, your artwork and accompanying stories, never fail to make me laugh. And your more serious posts, always have me rooting for you. (have had similar experiences) Now I shall go back to just lurking. :)

  5. Philadelphia has been designated the UNhealthiest county in Pennsylvania. Along with being the murder capital of the country, you know what that means? WE'RE NUMBER ONE! WE'RE NUMBER ONE!
    If youse know whats good for ya, dat is.
    And New Jersey thinks they're so frikkin' tough.

  6. Haha, they make LONG matches ya know


  7. LOL!!!

    The building illustration is perfect!!

    So in love with this entry. I'd totes marry it.


  8. OMG do you mean the girl that got killed outside the Superfresh? I used to live right by there too that was terrifying! I lived in Phila when that happened, I bet we crossed each others paths at some point. Small world!

  9. Spooky's DarlingApril 5, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    I almost peed myself while reading! So funny! I mean, I guess back then it wasn't so funny at all for you but thanks for sharing it now :D

    Just what I needed after both of my parents told me (seperately) that I grew myself a fat tummy. Yeah thanks. That's what I needed after finally feeling good with my body after 10 years of ED... parents are a great thing to have.

  10. hahah, this made my day! quite hilarious, great post! anyways, i love your blog! definately following!

  11. Wahahaha so that's the full story of the bathroom even more hellish than mine. And in an apt more hellish too! Wow I'll never complain about my living conditions again! It sure makes for very funny stories now though, now that you are *safe*! I laughed so hard I had trouble breathing!

  12. your MS paint skills are impressive, followed :)

  13. I burst out laughing when I noticed that the bathroom illustration is "to scale." Ah, the little things. You said you love Downton Abbey, right? If you haven't seen it, you MUST YouTube Upstairs Downstairs Abbey (by BBC).

  14. Thank you much for the shout out, and I have to say, this is a brilliant post. I don't miss apartment living. Sure, I never had to light my own stove, but I did have neighbors above me that had sex so hard they'd knock stuff off my wall.

    Also, I laughed hard at the Butch line. Isn't that so true about names? You never see a guy named Butch who's a scrawny chess player. Just like you never see a guy named Norbert who's a tattooed powerlifter.

  15. Wow those are quite the experiences! Makes me glad I lived in a trailer or cabin in the middle of nowhere most of my life! The one time I lived in the city in an appartment, an appartment on my floor caught fire, a neighbour got violently kicked out of his appartment by the landlords and an old man almost died from a heart attack, a bus hit and killed someone on the corner outside my window (didn't see it happen) and two other car crashes happened on that corner (one woke me up in the middle of the night!), and a guy was shot to death at the front door of the appartment next door. But I never had to deal with bad pluming or crapy ovens! And thats why I'm thankful!

    Glad you can look at your past experiences and laugh!

  16. Looks like a painful experience

  17. Philly's a great town, but you have to be a certain kind of crazy to live there. I think you are, and that's a compliment. :D

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  19. That sound like the very small studio "apartment" my husband (then boyfriend) and I lived in during our last year of college. The tiles in the shower were falling in into the apartment next door, the toilet backed up every other week, the carpet was covered in filth when we moved in, there was only one closet the size of small bathroom linen closet that had two screws for a door knob, and the heater smelled so bad that we nicked named it the "Afartment". Hahaha.

  20. i absolutely LOVE this story, especially since all my roommates made me feel like i was the spanwn of Satan at BYU! (more on that later!) until hub and i later spend a year in married student housing at -Utah State!!!!!!! (heaven!). Halloween there was lovely! The children in such cute costumes from their homelands...i was in Heaven...i think we ran out of candy!

    Go Aggies!!!!!!!!!!


We say whatever we want to whomever we want, at all times.