(Originally published in Article 25, September 1, 2012 edition)
Bonnie and Charlie are newlyweds. They’ve been married six weeks and have lived in my building, right above me, for four of those weeks. I guess with newlyweds there’s a period of adjustment they have to go through, getting used to living together and all. I’ve had to go through a period of adjustment myself. A few weeks after they moved in, I felt like strangling both of them with my bare hands.
Charlie’s a young, slim guy who often doesn’t wear a shirt and likes to wear his pants low enough to where his underwear can be seen. His hair is short. He wears gold-rimmed glasses. When he and his wife first moved in, Charlie would knock on my door wanting to borrow screwdrivers, hammers and shaving cream. I told him didn’t have any of these things, even though I did.
Bonnie is a young, pretty girl with short black hair, brown eyes and a cheery voice. When I first came to know her, she seemed a pleasant, friendly person. Maybe that’s why, when she knocked on my door, I let her borrow my clock radio to listen to music. That was three weeks ago. She must still be listening to music, as I haven’t gotten it back.
Bonnie and Charlie also have a small dog – could be a beagle or a beagle mix. All I know about the dog is that it’s a male. He could be a swell dog; but because he barks whenever Bonnie and Charlie leave him alone, I’m thinking I don’t care for the mutt very much.
When they first moved in, except for the dog’s barking and the both of them wanting to borrow stuff all the time, things were basically quiet. That changed a couple weeks ago. On an early Saturday morning, yelling and screaming woke me up.
I don’t know who was yelling the most – Bonnie or Charlie. It went on for over an hour. Then I heard their apartment door slam, then the building door slam and I watched Bonnie walk past my apartment window heading out to the sidewalk. The fight was over. For now.
A couple hours later Charlie came knocking on my door, wearing a shirt for a change, and told me that his marriage was over. He and Bonnie were breaking up. He had an errand to run but was expecting a friend to come over with a truck to move out the few furniture items he had in the apartment. Charlie also had a couple bags of personal belongings and he wanted to know if it would be all right for him to put the bags in my apartment until he got back. He would only be gone for an hour or so, but he didn’t want Bonnie to return and go through his things. I said, “OK.”
A “couple bags” turned out to be 10 bags, a large television set, two fishing rods, a tackle box, a small grill and numerous wall pictures. I live in a small studio apartment, and this took up almost half of my living space. I had enough room left to do some writing on my computer, but it was hard to focus, because of Charlie’s stuff in my apartment and because of that damn mutt barking upstairs. Charlie wasn’t gone for an hour either. He didn’t come back until 3 o’clock that afternoon.
When Charlie did return, he had an announcement to make. He and Bonnie had reconciled. He wasn’t moving out after all. I guess that explains why the truck never showed up. Feeling annoyed, I watched Charlie move all his crap back upstairs. The only satisfaction I got out of this was not offering to help him.
Move forward to midnight. I heard more yelling and screaming from upstairs. This time, when I heard the apartment door, then building door slam, it was Charlie walking past my window. At least Bonnie was still upstairs to keep the damn dog quiet.
Move forward again – to 3:30 the next morning. There’s a knock on my apartment door. I put on my pants and shoes and opened the door. There stood Bonnie, very drunk, slurring her words. She had no minutes left on her cell phone. She needed to borrow mine. She had an emergency.
Her emergency was to call Charlie. Bonnie told him she loved him and wanted him to come home. I sat on my bed and just stared at her. I couldn’t understand why I was becoming a part of this newlywed game. When she got off my phone, she looked at me and said, “Did I wake you?” I felt like killing her.
It doesn’t stop there, of course. The following week, Bonnie’s dad showed up one night with his big, white pickup truck. There was more yelling and screaming, and I watched Bonnie and her father load the pickup truck with Bonnie’s things. Shortly thereafter, Charlie was knocking on my door again, saying it was all over between him and Bonnie. I kept the chain on my apartment door this time and didn’t let Charlie in. He seemed confused by this.
I wasn’t getting sucked into their problems. That’s what I told Charlie. I wished him well, told him I hoped they could work out their issues, but they were their issues. I just happen to live in the same building as they do.
The next day, when Bonnie came back to live with Charlie (Did you really think that would be the end for the newlyweds?), Charlie must have told Bonnie what I told him, because they have left me alone since. Yes, I still hear their dog barking, but it’s a small price to pay.
I meant it when I told Charlie I hope he and Bonnie can work out their differences, but it sure is clear to me these young newlyweds have a lot to work on. They’re going to have to learn that marriage doesn’t get easier as the years go by. In their case, I don’t think it’s going to last years. I’m guessing maybe a few more months.
I’ve heard it said strong fences make good neighbors, but I think in my case, it’s going to be a strong apartment door with a deadbolt. I’m staying clear of Bonnie and Charlie.
Well, actually, that’s not true. I’ve got to talk to Bonnie. She’s still got my damn clock radio.
(Photo from logo.wikia.com)