Friday, January 18, 2008

Neighbors

I actually gossiped over the fence with my neighbor this morning, just like in song and story! When I moved here three years ago, it didn't take long to realize I'd moved into the most unfriendly neighborhood I'd ever come across. And it couldn't have been me because they didn't know me, so they couldn't know if they wanted to know me or not, right? My mom kept asking if any body had come by to say "hi." Brought cookies. Jell-O molds? It took her three months to stop asking.

And okay, I don't know that I'd go greet new neighbors, but it's more than that. These people sit mean-faced on their front porches just, just, looking at you. If you wave, though, they will wave back. And, truth be told, if you get right into their faces they'll talk to you and be friendly as can be. But you could go on a nice long walk with your darling wiener dog and pass many many people and not one will smile at you, let alone catch your eye. It's creepy. I blame the Soviet Union.

I do actually. I live in an Armenian neighborhood. And, as opposed to other Armenian neighborhoods in town, most of these people emigrated from the former Soviet Union not too long ago. (In other areas of town it's more a selection of people of the Armenian diaspora. They're from Syria and Lebanon and a bunch of other places. And they've lived here a lot longer. This was told to me by an Armenian [who says they don't really care for the Armenians in my neighborhood!]).

But it's my thinking that growing up under the Soviets, you weren't all that chatty with strangers. And maybe you didn't so much trust your neighbors. So I don't blame these people (who, again, are very warm once you force yourself on them), I blame Communism.

So this morning I'm chatting with a non-Armenian neighbor (it's actually a somewhat mixed street. We've got several of yer different types of people. No Blacks, though, which I thought was weird, until I found out that ol' Glendale, CA, was the west coast hub of the Klan back in the day. Real nice.). And she asks me if the police banged on my door Monday morning. Um, no, but I saw a few cop cars on the street when I came home around noon. And a forensics van. And some people standing on the street. I thought perhaps it was a break-in.

Apparently if I'd been home around 8:00 I would have heard a scary knock on my door only to find police there asking if I'd heard any gunshots earlier! I have lived in LA for thirteen years and it is the big city, and I have heard gunshots. But not in my neighborhood and certainly not Monday morning. She goes on to tell me that the lovely young (my age, I'll have you know) woman who lives with her extended family a few houses down shot herself in her shiny new black Escalade! I only know the her by sight, but she's a well-dressed woman with two kids and a big family and that's about all I knew. And she up and shot herself?

According to my neighbor, according to the newspaper they are, for now, ruling it a suicide. But the thing is, I've seen too many dang procedurals and too many episodes of The Sopranos to not wonder. See, this area is known to have serious problems with the Armenian mafia, which I kinda assume is the same as the Russian mafia I hear about on Law & Order. I mean they were all from the Soviet Union. But I could be wrong. These two mafias might not even be friends for all I know.

I used to go to a local cafe, but I would kinda feel anxious when these huge gangs of twenty-something guys who would come in. They all looked mighty slick. I actually thought to myself, man, if they didn't just step outta some mob movie. I didn't know then that they probably were in the mob (can you call it the mob if it's not THE mob?). And without fail, all these guys drive shiny black Escalades. And I like to judge and assume, and generalize for that matter.

But women don't shoot themselves. It's not a common way for them to commit suicide. It's true, you can't know what's going on inside someone's head (gee, especially if you don't know them), but to get ready for work, say goodbye to your two kids then get in the car and shoot yourself?

And then my neighbor tells me that several years back, two Armenian neighbors up the way a few houses were feuding and their respective sons shot each other in a fight on the street.

And then my neighbor tells me that the people in the house on the corner, where they're often BBQing, were doing just that a few years ago when there was a drive-by and one of their Armenian guests was shot. What the hey?!

This city is regularly voted in the top ten of the safest cities of its size in America. Are they not including my street in their tally? Geez oh pete, no wonder these people aren't friendly! Or I just watch too much TV and I'm singling out Armenians in a bigoted fashion. Hey, none of them brought me a Jell-O mold! Is that not reason enough to be suspicious?

Your intolerant neighbor,

Jo

1 comment:

JTigger said...

sounds inviting!