This is what they come together on, Ibrahim and Gilbert. The neighbor banging the trash cans at 2 in the morning.
I never hear them because I am locked away in my room or simply, not home.
But when I am…
“It’s like she does this on purpose” I hear Gilbert say in the kitchen, this morning.
He confirms with Ibrahim that her incessant noise-making has gone too far.
“Who gets up at 2AM in the morning…and does what she does? Who gets up like 10 times a day” Ibrahim asks part-rhetorically, trying to sort out her logic.
“She does it on purpose!” Ibrahim confirms after coolly laying out his barrage of rhetoricals.
For a good year, I’d never even seen how this neighbor looked like. I’d tried to formulate a picture of her and her true personality largely based on what Ibrahim and Gilbert said she did. I’d been told that she was some kind of Latina. She was some kind of teacher, the wife of an administrator. Her license plate featured the name of my school, Cal State Long Beach.
Whenever he was telling me of the latest thing she had done, Ibrahim would never pass up a chance to mock her morning routine of greeting her dog, Jupiter.
“Hi Jupiter, have a good day Jupiter,” Ibrahim would compress his voice giving off a higher pitch and more abrupt stops to imitate his beloved neighbor. “When I get back, I’ll feed you some pig ears,” a line he apparently caught once and repeats every time. “Who the hell talks like that to their dog?” Ibrahim asked.
When I first moved in, Ibrahim told me that this neighbor “owned” her husband. Her husband would be rushed in when “caught” talking with Gilbert. The word “bossy” came to mind when describing her.
“Snob” was another word that shot to mind. Ibrahim and Gilbert talked about how she would ignore them whenever they saw each other or whenever he tried to make eye contact with her.
I had this fantasy that she’d be somewhat “do-able.”
Last week for the first time in a year, I’d finally seen how this neighbor looked like.
Light brown skin. Medium built. I looked at her face, she looked like some kind of Asian or Pacific Islander as opposed to Latina. She didn’t say hi to me either.