MEMO #1 – TO: The Neighbor Who Stole My Doormat
RE: What the Fuck?
I have to ask, I really have to ask; come on guy, you really needed to steal my doormat? My doormat?
And we’re not even talking about a fancy ornamental, expensive doormat – the kind embroidered by a young child in a dark factory in the heart of Taiwan; the kind with the word “WELCOME” woven in over an irresistibly crude caricature of puppies playfully squirming under a doormat of their own, their big eyes staring straight through your soul; the kind that you can only find in an elegant, out-of-the-way specialty store like K-Mart or Target. And I understand that not everyone has the rare combination of both ten minutes and six dollars that it takes to go out and buy a doormat of their own. And if I had owned this kind of extravagantly decorative doormat, I would understand a working man’s need to steal it, to give his family a small taste of the same lavish, luxurious lifestyle that Doukhobors like myself enjoy in our rent-controlled apartments in the heart of Queens.
But that’s not the kind of doormat we’re talking about, is it? The kind of doormat we’re talking about, the kind that you stole under the dark cover of night, is dirty and beige; it’s the kind of doormat that I got not from Wal-Mart, nor even from Kiki’s 99-Cent Emporium, but rather from the relatives of an elderly neighbor who had recently died, shuffling off this mortal coil in housedress and slippers, plastic bags clutched in her hand, a faded babushka on her head and a complaint about the heat left unspoken on her tongue. That’s right; you stole a free, dead woman’s doormat that I, myself, did not even want in the first place.
To be honest, I’m not even angry so much as I am completely baffled; what, exactly, did you think you were going to do? Just put it down outside of your apartment, the only place you could logically use it, and hope that I wouldn’t go door-to-door through the building hallway looking for it?
In the annals of crime, stealing a neighbor’s doormat falls somewhere between mugging your boss in the elevator on the way up to the office and bursting into a police precinct, waving your shotgun in the air, and declaring “The next person who moves gets it.” Which is to say that it falls exactly halfway between being “poorly thought out” and “fucking moronic.”
And if you can’t use a doormat for its intended purpose, what exactly would you do with it? Sell it? Not that I would put it past you; after all, the person who would steal a used dime-store doormat is the exact same person who has undoubtedly, at several points in their life, had a small, swarthy man named Chico calmly inform them that “you ain’t can’t have the weed if you ain’t don’t got the cash.”
And so I scoured Craig’s List, searching for the tell-tale ad: “FOR SALE,” I imagined it would say, “Doormat, gently used – NO QUESTIONS ASKED! Serial numbers have been filed off. Am looking for best reasonable offer – cash, food, or even MetroCard swipe into subway.”
Or perhaps this doormat was of some value to you, a value that I myself did not ascertain and could only truly appreciate once it was gone from my life. In my mind’s eye I can see you running through the building, clad in an Indiana Jones-style leather jacket and fedora, clutching your bleeding, gunshot arm as dark-suited thugs from the Russian mob close in fast. Trapped in a corner, desperate, you wheel around, revealing a Luger held to the head of a dirty beige doormat trembling in the crook of your arm.
“Don’t do anything we’ll both regret,” says a large man who steps from the shadows, a deep scar running down the side of his face, a gloved hand removing a pair of $500 Ray Bans, revealing one eye made of milky-white glass, the other filled with a mixture of hatred and respect.
You shake your head once: “No.” You pant for breath, swallow, then add, “Tell your men to step back and give us safe conduct, Vladimir. Now. Or the only place this doormat lies is inside the entrance of a mausoleum.”
He gives you the once-over; he knows that after what went down in Morocco, where he watched a small, frayed bathroom rug die in his arms, that you’d be just crazy enough to do it. He signals to his men, and they step back, warily placing their guns halfway into their holsters.
“You’ve won this round,” he says. “But I’ll return. Even you can’t watch forever. One day you’ll be napping, or drunk, or out of your house for ten minutes to get some milk from the store. And you’ll leave that doormat alone and unguarded. And when you do, I’ll be there. And I can tell you now, I won’t have to steal it away; it will come with me, and willingly.”
And you know in your heart that he’s right. You may have that doormat for now; hell, you may even love it as much as once I did, but you’ll never own it. The tread-worn beauty that makes it a treasure is also its biggest curse. This doormat was born to roam free, my friend, and no matter what kind of care you take of it, there’s going to be a morning when you awake to find it gone, and with only the memories to sustain you.
MEMO #2 TO: The Neighbor Whose WiFi Signal I’ve Been Sharing
RE: Constant Service Outages
Hey “Linksys_AP_Underscore 77,” if that is even your real name. Just what the hell is going on here? As a comedian and writer with a home office, the bulk of my work day is spent online; checking my Fantasy Baseball team, then my Facebook page to see if anyone’s responded to my hilarious status updates, then my blog’s statcounter to see who’s been Googling me, then my Twitter account to see if anyone new is following me, then my email, then my Facebook, then my Twitter account, then my email, and so on and so forth. Between that and all the music I download from my 37 most-favorite MP3 blogs, your Internet connection is one of the most important tools of my business.
Look, I didn’t want to have to be the one to tell you this; after all, I’m not your mother! But I really think it’s high time that you grow up a little and learn how to pay your bills on time. When you can’t behave like a responsible adult, that doesn’t just affect you, it affects everyone within three floors of your wireless server.
As an adult I’ve learned to accept that we all have a job in this world; mine happens to be nagging other people to fulfill their responsibilities to me, unknown to them though they are. If you don’t have the money for your high-speed Internet bill, perhaps you should get a second job. Or do what I do – call my parents and ask if you can borrow it. Don’t worry; experience shows that my parents are very lenient lenders, and won’t expect you to pay them back any time soon.
Thanks for reading this memo; I was going to e-mail you, but I don’t know your address. And even if I did, well, our Internet’s down.
MEMO #3 TO: The Guy in The Apartment Whose Window Faces Mine
RE: Your Strict Daily Regimen of Blasting The Same Five Metallica Songs Over and Over and Singing Along at the Top of Your Lungs, Interspersed With The Most Disturbing Deep-Throated Hacking Cough Heard Outside of a 1920s TB Ward
Hey buddy, I understand that you need a job. I know, it’s hard finding work that matches your unique skill-set. After all, I’ve been on more than one job interview in my life, by which I mean I’ve been on three job interviews in my life. And the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” has never been immediately followed with, “Now, can you do an impression of Lars Ulrich as if he were about to lose a lung?”
Luckily, despite from my heavy work schedule, I seem to be blessed with a little spare time. So I thought I’d do the neighborly thing and help you come up with some career options.
At first I thought, “Join The Army.” But then I realized that, were you to become a member of the Armed Forces, you would undoubtedly be the guy who gets fragged by his own unit, probably around the second time you sing Enter Sandman. Also, America tends to send her best and brightest sons into battle against her foes, and let’s be honest – the only opposing army that might be intimidated by an aging, phlegmatic metalhead would be the KISS Army.
Then it hit me – you could be a Wedding DJ! You’ve got the experience; by throwing your windows wide and sharing your love of mainstream speed metal, you’re already acting as a DJ for the entire neighborhood.
On the other hand, there’s only so many times that the happy couple will be able to listen to Master of Puppets before requesting that you play something a little more upbeat and danceable, like The Funky Chicken, or The Beer-Barrel Polka, or the sound of little children crying.. And when they do, you’re going to have to look them in the eye and say slowly and steadily, so they know that you’re completely serious, “The first time ever I heard The Black Album, I knew I was put here on this planet for one purpose and one purpose only; to share with this wicked world the pure and simple the beauty of the music of Lars, James, Cliff, and Kirk, whether it wants me to or not. And I know that the doctors are wrong, that this lower respiratory tract infection isn’t the Black Lung, but rather a punishment from the Demon God of Rock n’ Roll Himself for ignoring my Mission, for not playing these same five Metallica songs over and over.”
Then the groom will regroup, take a breath, and say, and say in the same gentle, patient tone of voice he would use were he placating a small child holding a loaded gun, that he completely understands where you’re coming from, but perhaps at the very least you would be so kind as to not scream along with the song, screaming long and loud like you were trying to awaken the departed souls of all the brain cells you killed smoking weed as a teenager glorying in the profoundly adult freedoms of the Meadowland’s parking lot pre-concert bakefest.
And then you will have no choice but to slowly and dramatically take the wad of cash you were paid for the wedding DJ gig – and you will insist on being paid in cash, as you don’t believe in so-called banks and their “rules” about minimum balances or excessively writing so-called “bad checks” – and then you will take that cash out of your pocket and then you will throw it in the bride’s face and then you will shriek the lyrics of Master of Puppets as loud as you can, interspersed with the juiciest lung-deep hacking coughs possible. You will shriek like The Devil unleashed from a pneumonia clinic in the deepest bowels of Metal Hell. Because no one can put a price on your art, man.
And then you should take the money back, because let’s be honest; if a couple hires a DJ for their wedding based solely on the fact that he’s five hundred dollars cheaper than the competition, and they pay him in cash in advance without asking for references or even a playlist of the kinds of records he plans to spin, said couple doesn’t deserve that fifty bucks plus carfare. And you will take that fifty bucks, and – this being the most important part – you will go out and buy both a pair of headphones and a fucking album by anyone other than Metallica.
And if there’s any money left over, and if you find it in your heart, in return for my graciousness, and my compassion and my care, and my taking the time to help a stranger in need, perhaps you would be so kind as to buy me a new doormat.