Archive for October, 2007

My Neighbor the Collector

October 9, 2007


If ever there was a time for me to come out of my blog-tirement and put up a new post…this is it.

I have this neighbor (Mike)…who lives about 12 houses down from me…and he’s quite the character.

Mike is in his early 60s…but I’m guessing from the second-skin death metal t-shirts, pointy-toed cowboy boots, rebel trucker’s cap, and fake fur black toupee he wears…he wants folks to think he’s more like in his late 50s.

But what really makes Mike…well…Mike…is…he “collects” things.

Things like the medieval swords crossed over the knight’s battle shield he has hanging on the front of his house. Things like the dried up triple-decker cement yard fountain topped with what I’m hoping is a fake skull. Things like macramé hangings on his porch and little lawn statues.

Mike used to work with me years ago at a state agency. He worked in the print shop and I, being in communications, worked with him closely. So closely, in fact, that I learned he’s never met a flea market or yard sale he didn’t shop. So closely that I learned he’s never had his own flea market or yard sale…so everything he’s taken into his house…is still there (including one of my grandmother’s old mirrors I sold to him at a garage sale a few years ago).

I actually went into Mike’s house once…about four years ago. My neighborhood had flooded and I went down to check to see if he was alright. I had heard his house got a couple of inches in it and I thought I could help him clean up.

When he let me in the door, I absolutely could NOT close my eyes as what only can be described as a fantasia of crap beckoned the attention of my gaze from every crevice of his living room. You couldn’t even walk from the front door to the sofa unless you followed the path created by the walls of stuff. It was truly an incredible sight to behold.

Fortunately, he said he wouldn’t need my help. I don’t remember his reason why. With my mind still reeling at what was obviously the tip of the collectible iceberg…I pictured the rooms that lay beyond the one in which I stood and breathed a sigh of relief that I wouldn’t have to sift through what I imagined to be decades of wet troll dolls, fake parakeets, and probably a kazillion issues of Penthouse and Playboy from the 60s and 70s.

I know I sound like I’m exaggerating, but, I promise you…Mike has literally years of junk that not only lines the walls, floors, and tabletops inside his house, but teams from his front door and vomits into his yard an array of doo-dads and trinkets and knick-knacks that never should have been made, sold, bought, or displayed in the first place.

But Mike loves the stuff he’s bought. And he loves to display it. He even rotates his chotzkes in his yard, replacing a garden gnome with a plucky ceramic owl one week or topping his fake boulder with a fake animal the next.

His most recent displays have centered around his car. He has taken to taping a picture of Nosferatu’s face (or maybe it’s Phil Stacey’s) to the steering wheel of his blue sedan, so that it looks like the old vampire is about to toot the horn for Mike to come out and go joy-riding to the Sonic for a footlong and some tots. I might think he was doing this in honor of the upcoming All Hallow’s Eve…except for the fact that ol’ Nos-tu has been behind the wheel, on and off, since August.

But stranger still than Nosferatu is the pouty doll Mike has begun leaning against his front bumper (pictured atop this post).

Now, pouty dolls in general are a phenomenom that I’ve never understood, appreciated, or, truly, tolerated. I find them creepy times a zillion…fake children made to look like they are either sad, spoiled, or sullen and used as decoration around the home…huh?

But Mike has made great use of his pouty doll. It usually laments on Mike’s front bumper…like it’s upset that Nos-tu and Mike are going for tots without it…but it has also found some good sulking spots on the plastic chairs in front of Mike’s ever-closed garage door (behind which will never be found a car…but more of Mike’s “collection”)…and I believe one day I saw it fake sobbing on the fake boulder.

I decided this morning, as I was driving into work, to roll down the passenger window and snap a picture of the forlorn little guy. He was looking all desperate and hopeless pressed up against the right headlight of Mike’s car…and…just for a moment…I took pleasure in the little doll’s never-ending unhappiness.

It was kind of nice to know that there was something out there in the world that was bigger on self-pity than myself.

Poor thing. If I lived at Mike’s…I’d cry to.

And then I remembered that this ridiculousness was taking place a mere 12 houses down from mine…and the self-pity returned.

So I rolled up the window, rolled my eyes, and pledged to let it all hang out at Monkbot.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tale.

And Shelley quietly slips back into the void…