Excerpt: What's A Girl Gotta Do
When I got outside my apartment building, I ran into my downstairs neighbor, Mrs. Ramirez, an eighty-year-old bully with a blue rinse, who was out walking her high-strung Chihuahua, Señor. God, I hate those dogs. They look like rats with a glandular problem, they’re dumber than a sack of hammers, and they’re bad-tempered—a horror movie just waiting to happen. What is the attraction?
In Mrs. Ramirez’s case I could kind of see it, though, because she and the dog shared the same snappish temperament. Not all old people are sweet and wise. Mrs. Ramirez, for instance, has this nasty habit of cornering me in the elevator, calling me a whore, and rapping my head with her cane. She complains constantly about me to the landlord, the super, and the few good Catholics left in our East Village neighborhood. If she wasn’t so damned old, I’d press charges.
With Señor’s leash in one hand and her carved cane in the other, she shuffled towards me menacingly. “I couldn’t sleep last night because of you!”
I’m always really sweet when I talk to her. It’s kind of an experiment. I’m trying out that kill-them-with-kindness theory.
“Hello, Mrs. Ramirez!” I said, smiling angelically. “How’s your little friend Señor? And how are you?”
Still got that very large, rough stick up your ass?
“You had a big party last night! I was up all night!”
“I didn’t have a party, I watched a movie and went to bed.”
“I heard dancing!”
Mrs. Ramirez’s problem, as I’ve tried to explain to her 354 times, is that her hearing aid is turned up too high, amplifying the noise in my apartment, which is above hers. The sound of a cap popping off a soda bottle sounds like the crack of a whip to her. When my cat, Louise Bryant, walks across the floor, Mrs. Ramirez thinks there’s a naked mambo party going on upstairs and multiple commandments are being repeatedly and cavalierly broken.
“I was watching Top Hat,” I said. “The volume was way down.”
“It sounded like you had the Rockettes up there! It was so loud it scared me. I had to take a nitroglycerin pill. Next time, I’m calling the police.
“Please call the police next time, Mrs. Ramirez. Have them come up and arrest the Rockettes,” I said.
“I’ll call them now!” she said.
Suddenly, she picked up her cane and waved it at me. I held up my tire iron to ward off the blow. This was great. Get into a sword fight with an old woman in the middle of the street. Try to convince the police when they came that I had to bean a frail eighty-year-old lady with my tire iron in self-defense. I turned and started walking away from her fast.