Neighbors

By Reno J. Romero

Memoir

I just moved. Again. This is my fourth move in two years. It seems like all I do is pack and unpack my shit. My truck hates me. My clothes hate me. My guitars hate me. Same for my computer and my books. Same for my incense and my shoes. I promised them that they could settle down, take a load off, that we’d be around for a while this time.

I don’t think they believe me.

This move was a pain in the ass just like all the others. But what I’ve learned over the years is to get down to the bare essentials. If I don’t use it I give it away or throw it away. I moved across the country twice. It was these two dreadful moves that taught me that rat-packing I’ll-probably-use-it-someday crap is ridiculous and a lie. After my divorce I gave everything to my ex. I took my books, clothes, one of the cars, my guitars, and most of my dignity. That’s it. It was liberating. It was very Zen. Today the things in my possession I use. I’m clutter-free for the first time in my life.

When I moved in I noticed my neighbors sitting outside drinking beer. Two dudes in their twenties and an older feller somewhere in his sixties. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen him stumbling around his house drunk. He drinks Budweiser. He never wears a shirt; nipples and dusty gray hair dancing in the desert wind.

“Hey, you play guitar?” he asked me as I was unloading my equipment.

“Yes, sir.”

“Rock and roll?”

“At times, yeah.”

“Hey, you should grow out your hair, man. You’d look cool. Long hair. Guitar. You know?”

“Think so, huh? You’re probably right.”

He didn’t know I’ve had long hair most of my life and recently hacked it all off.

“My name is Gilbert,” he said walking to the fence. I put my guitar down and shook his hand.

Reno.”

Reno? Like in Reno, Nevada? All right. Isn’t that Mustang Ranch close to Reno?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“I’d like to go there, man. They have a website. You should check it out. Some fine women work there. Oh, yeah, some fine women.”

We talked for a bit. He came from Fontana. Ex-military. Liked Santana. He told me to come over one night, down some beer, and play for him. I told him I would.

“The man next door likes, Santana,” I told my roommate.

“Making friends already, huh?” she said.

“Always.”

Scissors

Pam lived above me. Nice girl. Beautician. Huge tits and a flat ass. We’d party together, smoke pot, and drink whatever was at hand. She was sweet on me despite the fact that I had a girlfriend. She had me by five years and was the classic been-there-done-that chick. She didn’t care that I had a girlfriend. She thought Gina was a total bitch which was true. She told me that I should dump her pronto, that I was young (I was twenty-five) and living in Vegas, that this wasn’t the time to be bogged down in a relationship. This all changed when Pam found a suitor. His name was Greg and either he had the world’s biggest dick or Pam was hoping that a porn producer lived in the complex and would draw her up a slutty contract after hearing her nasty contrived wailing.

She was loud.

Painfully loud.

My bedroom also served as my recording studio and on more than one occasion my mics picked up her moaning. I’d be laying down tracks and then: “Oh! Oh, my god! Oh! Oh! Oh…my…god!” I wanted to charge upstairs, kick down her door, and punch her in the throat. I wanted to tell Greg to quit fucking her. And if he couldn’t do that then he needed to handle her at his place. And the curious thing was that they always banged around nine o’clock at night. After she jacked up one too many takes, I started recording around the humping hour. I had some friends over one night and they got front row seats to Hammerfest.

“Watch, man,” I informed them. “Around nine o’clock you’ll hear Pammy Whammy and Ron Jeremy playing hide the salami.”

Sure as shit around five minutes after nine: “Oh! Oh, yes! Don’t stop! Oh, my god! Yes! Yes! Oh!” My friends were sickened. I was sickened. It was bad. Pam must have had a super cooter because Greg put a ring on her damn finger and she moved in with him a month later.

Them Frogs

My house in Charlotte had a lake behind it. Coming from Las Vegas I wasn’t used to wildlife, real weather, trees or flowers. I had deer roaming around my property. Raccoons clicking. Giant birds casting shadows on the ground. My neighbor was a local, hailed from South Carolina, and had a thing for vodka. I’d always find Tim sitting in his driveway, drink in hand, sucking in the booze and the sticky humidity. He called me Vegas.

The neighborhood was beautiful and made for a great run. As soon as I moved in I mapped out a two-mile run that took me by the lake. Right by the lake was a small pond. That’s where I heard the sound. It was an odd bellowing sound. I’d never heard anything like it before. I told my wife at the time what I’d heard, that it was a haunting hollow sound.

“I don’t know what it is,” I told her. “Sounds like an animal. A sick cow. A moose. Or a camel. I don’t know. It seems to be coming from behind the woods. There might be a farm back there.”

“There’s no moose out here, sweetie. Or camels.”

“How do you know? Might be a farm back there.”

At work I asked the locals. They didn’t know. And if they did they weren’t giving me any answers. I was just some long-haired west coast dude invading their land of fried-pickles and Jesus. I came home one day to find Tim washing his boat. He was drunk. A bottle of vodka sat on his tailgate. I told him about the sound I’d heard right by the pond. I told him I thought there might be a farm behind the woods, that what I’d heard was probably a cow or something. He shook his head and started laughing hard. It took him a while to gather himself.

“What, fucker? Tell me,” I pleaded.

“Vegas, Vegas, Vegas. You’re talking about that little pond that feeds into the lake, right? Yeah, OK. What you’re hearing is a goddamn bullfrog!”

From that day on my name changed from Vegas to Bullfrog.

“Hey, Bullfrog.”

“What are you doing this weekend, Bullfrog?”

“Your Steelers are going down, Bullfrog.” “

Wanna drink, Bullfrog?”

Alison

Chris looked like Elvis Costello. He was a real estate agent, hailing from somewhere in the Midwest. Vegas was full of real estate agents and full of these types. Quasi-slick transplants. Hated their dry little towns. Packed up their junk and came to the neon to cash in. At first glance you would have thought Chris was gay. He possessed all the cliché characteristics: wore nice expensive clothes; walked around the world in a pretty haircut streaked with highlights; had clean manicured nails; got his tans at a tanning salon; drove a nice car that was always in immaculate condition; had a chunky lady friend that was always hanging around him. When I met him my gaydar didn’t register anything. Zip. He was just another pretty boy in a city full of pretty boys. But a few of my friend’s gaydars were pinned.

“Reno, who’s Mr. Skintip?”

“Chris. And he doesn’t smoke skin tips. He smokes a good-looking blond that you’d bang if you had the chance.”

“Bullshit. He’s smoking the skinnies. Remember Mr. Andrews the basketball coach? He was married, had two gruesome kids, but he smoked poles on the side.”

“Well…”

Chris’ girlfriend was beautiful. California blond. Deep sea-blue eyes. Button nose. Pretty hands. Nice body. She was also a nice person and liked literature. Big Faulkner fan. We used to swap books and talk shop. Her name was Sara.

At the time I had a sixteen-pound tabby named Toback. He was a gorgeous creature that viewed himself as a prisoner, always pawing the screen door to get out and see the world. I couldn’t blame him. I was an over protective parent. I cut off his berries, fed him expensive food, and kept the apartment warm and cozy. But he didn’t give a fuck about my efforts. He was fat and he knew it. He wanted to run with the wind and shed some weight. He didn’t have any balls and he knew that. He wanted to look at girl kitties for old time’s sake in hopes that his ghost nuts would twitch reminding him that, yes, he was still a man cat, that, yes, he was still alive. One night I slipped and left the sliding door open. Despite his weight Toback still had some wheels and I caught him flash out the door and over the wall and into the Great Wide Open.

I let him goof around for a bit. He ran from bush to bush, climbed to the top of the small tree in front of my balcony and leaped off into the darkness. He tumbled in the grass and meowed with glee. After a while I tried to get him, but he was having nothing of it. I’d get close to him and at the last second he’d dash. This went on for around ten minutes. It was a game to him. He was winning. I was pissed. Then Toback ran into a bush right by Chris’ balcony. Right when I approached the balcony I saw Sara butt-naked and walking around the apartment with a glass of wine. I dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. I turned and slowly made my way to my apartment hoping that she didn’t see me, telling Chris that I’m some sick peeping Tom. I wanted to kill Toback. To hell with him, I thought. Stay out there and get your ass kicked by some feral tomcat! See if I care, Toback! Five minutes later he strolled in coated in dirt and grass. Son of a bitch. That night my band came over and I told them what happened. Two of them understood how creepy I felt. The other two thought Toback hooked me up.

“Dude,” Aaron said. “Toback did you good. All my cat does is eat and shit in the living room.”

“Well, yeah. You can look at that way,” I said, as I saw Sara’s naked body move across my eyes once again. “She was a true blond that’s for sure.”



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RENO J. ROMERO was born in the badlands of El Sereno, California. A bona fide Las Vegan, he also lived in the dirty South for three miserable years, where he was introduced to depression, grits, humidity, and sweet tea. A graduate of UNLV, the Southern Nevada Writing Project, and seedy bars, he enjoys Chinese food, Tamron Hall, the Trickster, and football. He currently writes poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction from the California desert, living among rattlesnakes, old bones, and biker speed. He's been published in various publications including Falling From the Sky (short story anthology), Celebrity Poets, and Central Speak. He can be reached at [email protected]

83 responses to “Neighbors”

  1. New Orleans Lady says:

    Ok, the fact that you thought the sound you heard was either a moose or a camel is both cute and hilarious! I see why you got stuck with bullfrog and lost your ‘Vegas’ privileges. Because let’s face it, Vegas is pretty fucking BA.

    Whammy Pammy. Yuck.

    I want Toback! He would be a handsome addition to my crew of kitties. Also, I think he did you a favor that night. He was giving you something in return for allowing him the freedom and the ghost balls twitch. Maybe you should have taken a second glance.

    Just sayin’.

    Funny, funny, Mr. Romero.

  2. Reno j. Romero says:

    NOL:

    Good morning, there. You know, NOL, I was born in L.A and spent most of my adult life in Vegas. Not too much wildlife roaming them streets. Well, other than the monkeys named Joe, Alice, etc. So how was I supposed to know? I truly thought there was a farm behind the woods because the sound seemed to be faraway. It was weird. Really. But it was a bullfrog and I was disappointed when he/she bailed the scene for another. Boo-hoo.

    Pammy Whammy. She was a real cool chick. She’d always be sitting on my couch stoned or drunk off her ass while I played Beatles tunes for her. But that whole groaning bit was nothing short of foul. I mean really. It was over-the-top and very unnecessary. But who knows maybe Greg was packing. Hey, hey…

    Sara. She was a looker. And she loved lit. Good looking gal and into literature? That’s a keeper. Looking back I should have taken a second peek. But I was mortified. I felt like I violated her privacy even that was not my intention. Nevertheless, her strolling around in the buff will never leave my memory. It’s set in stone, skin and bone.

    Thanks for reading, NOL. See you on the wire. Or somewhere in between.

    In Moose,
    Reno Romero

  3. Joe Daly says:

    First off, the new hair is rad. Way to shake it up. I still recall the day I cut off my long hair and how liberating it felt. And of course, you can always grow it back when you’re ready. 🙂

    Love the neighbor vignettes. Neighbors are the middle ground. You can’t choose your families, but you can choose your friends. As far as neighbors go, you sort of acquire them, but you always have the opportunity to leave.

    Love the story about Pam. Let’s hope she’s still wailing away in the night somewhere, keeping up someone else. Even better, let’s hope a younger version of Pam moves in next door to her and gives her a run for the money.

    Funny, funny stuff. Good read, man!

  4. Napigzi says:

    Heeeee’s back. Very funny, reminds me of your earlier stories when TNB was a baby. Love the new do! Love you baby boy!

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      Well, hello! Thanks for reading and the kind compliment on my doo. I think you’re right: it does read like one of them old TNB stories. So long ago. A lot has happened since them NC days. Speaking of NC days I’m craving Bojangles. Sweet tea and dirty rice! Okie doke, Napigzi, see you in the Neon.

      The Ol’ #5,
      Rene

  5. Reno j. Romero says:

    Joe:

    Hey, man. Rad, huh? Very cool and thanks. It’s weird having short hair after all these years. But it’s all right. I’m working with it. I’ve always had crazy neighbors and have a few more of these stories. When I was a kid an old man we penned the Heatmiser (Xmas cartoon). He was a mean bastard that always gave me and my pals the stink eye and yelled at us. Oddly enough, he had a a beautiful garden. Another one of my neighbors was my connection – had some of the best smoke in all of Vegas.

    And Pam…like I wrote NOL she was a great gal. But if I was banging her her noise would just piss me off. I’d prolly have to sit her down and tell her to stop. I don’t think that would have gone over well. Right now, I’d say Pammy Whammy is 47. Which means she’s still active. But it puts a smile on my mug knowing there’s a possibility that there’s some drunk 20-something living next door doing deep knee bends and howling at the moon (or the sun) like if it was nobody’s business! Ha! Double ha!

    Thanks for reading, Daly, and keep cranking the metal.

    Ace of Spades.
    RR

  6. jmblaine says:

    Reno makes
    it look easy
    & you don’t want
    the words to stop
    & as always,
    heart.

    Best writer
    on TNB
    right here.

    Pass through
    Nashville again
    I dare you.

    • Ashley Menchaca (New Orleans Lady) says:

      He must pay you in song for these sweet remarks.

      • Reno j. Romero says:

        NOL:

        Good one, NOL. There will be a day me and 11 plug in the amps, crank em to, uh, 11, and lay down some metal. No doubt in my mind. Do I pay you in song, too?

        • New Orleans Lady says:

          I didn’t leave such sweet words.
          In fact, I make fun of you, Moose.

          When you’re ready for my southern charm you can pay me in song, poems, or chocolate. Until then, I will continue to laugh at you.

          Still Giggling,
          NOL

        • Reno j. Romero says:

          NOL:

          You’re a viciousone. And consider yourself lucky. For if you didn’t like football (whodat!) so much I’d locate your Southern butt and bust up your knees. The pigskin saved you. Again.

          Maybe one day chocolate.

          Maybe a poem.

          Maybe a tune or two.

          One day.

          I’ll be back to you on that one.

          You know where to find me.

          (at the sandwich shop or big 5)

          Hail Mary,
          Moose

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      11:

      You are too kind. Thanks, sir. I try. The next time I go through those Green Hills we’ll belly up at some diner for some chat and some homegrown grub and chow. Take care out there, 11, and thanks for reading.

      7th Son of the 7th Son,
      R

  7. Don Mitchell says:

    Ha, all very funny and, which is more difficult, evocative.

    I can connect to all of them except maybe the frogs.

    Leaving with too much (or not enough) shit? Check.

    Neighbor like Pam? Check . . . lived below my girlfriend’s house, and the problem was that her guy worked nights so the More More Yes Yes Harder Harder erupted most nights at about 2 AM, which was seriously annoying.

    And Toback. Check . . . I love how those neutered dudes want to get outside and rock & roll. My Calvin was Toback-like but he never led me anywhere as interesting as the sight you got.

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      Don:

      More, More More. Wow. That sucks. Well, prolly not for the guy. Unfortunately, Pam wasn’t the only neighbor that wailed long into the night when nookie came around, but she was the most obnoxious one. I had a roommate (dude) that was also a moaner. It was sick. Real sick. But I like you, Don, so I’ll spare you the gory details.

      In the end I think Toback did hook me up. He was a great cat, a good friend, and I miss him dearly. Thanks for reading, Don. Take care.

  8. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    I’m glad to see pieces like this here that get a little more raw, and feel casual when there’s actually a lot going on.

    It seems like I’m always living with people (roommates, spouse, tiny children) who are loud and on the higher floors of an apartment building too, so that I’m always playing the apologetic guy promising the neighbors that we’ll tone it down. Like right now, the neighbors below are probably seething about the dance contest my daughters just staged in their room.

    And I think moving is a pain in the ass too, but do it all the time, like a masochist.

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      Nathaniel:

      Yo. Hey, thanks for reading. In my wilder days I did some apologizing myself. I even had the cops knock on my door a few times.

      “Is this your apartment?”

      “Yes.”

      “Haven’t we been here before?”

      “Can’t say you have.”

      Moving is a bummer – don’t know many folk that like it other than the owners of moving companies who charge up the ass to move your crap. Regardless, it’s an ugly game. Well, sir, here’s to moaning people and dance contests. Take care.

  9. Erika Rae says:

    11’s right – you do it with such ease. It’s like we’re just listening to your brain work. But I’m not fooled – there’s craft here. Love every minute of it. Always sad to see the end.

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      Erika! How are you. Sure hope you and your family are fine as wine. Thanks for reading my junk. Just more tales of the stuff lingering around me. I have more neighbor tales and prolly should drop a Part II. We’ll see. Well, I figure it’s cold in your part of the woods. Stay warm. Thanks again.

      RR

  10. Erika Rae says:

    Also – when did you cut your locks? Why, Reno, why?

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      Yes, the rock locks are gone. Way gone. It was for a job. But it has been a good change. Just sometimes I reach back thinking there’s a pound of hair, but nooooooooo.

      One of my buddies said it’s an American Psycho doo. That’s nice, eh?

      • Matt says:

        I’ve grown out and cut my hair off three times. Each time my head has always felt a lot lighter afterwards.

        American Psycho do, eh? Now I wanna see you moonwalk. And also ax Jared Leto in the face.

  11. Matt says:

    Dude, I feel you. This coming April I will have been in my current apartment for three years. That’s longest I’ve lived in one domicile since moving out of my folks’ place back in ’97. I lived in a different place for every year of college.

    Always an interesting thing to meet your new neighbors. I remember this one really hot girl in the student dorms who made a naked 50-yard dash from the communal showers to her room when her towel wouldn’t stay tied…the guy upstairs from me who was always pressure-washing his balcony on Saturdays…the Hungarian family who lived next door who’s friendly, ten year-old daughter would always bring over bowls of homemade goulash for my roomie and I….

    There’s a couple in my current apartment complex who like to fuck with the windows open, and man, is she loud. Every couple of nights, around 11 or so, we all get to hear that “oh..Oh…OOOOOOHHHHH!” leading right up to the money moment. Horrid thing to hear when you’re not getting any yourself.

  12. Reno j. Romero says:

    Matt:

    Hey, bro. 50-yard dash? OMG! Lovely. I can see her now…

    Yeah, you know, I don’t understand the loud boning sounds. It’s so porn. And you’re right it’s a punch in the face when you’re void of action. It’s torture.

    Goulash? Very sweet gesture. I prolly would have told her I was allergic to it. I’m sure you’re a kinder feller than I am. OK, homie, take care and thanks.

  13. Tom Hansen says:

    Nice work. Love the short descriptions, punchy, to the point, no wasted words. Dig it. Moved four times in two years? That’s some serious trauma buddy. I dunno if I would survive. About the guy saying you should have long hair? You have to beware of those types. I was in the smoke shop the other day, wearing my pork pie hat and some weird girl said “Dude! You look like Kid Rock!” I almost puked.

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      Tom:

      Kid Fucking Rock, huh? Good god. I would have puked. But I have a sensitive stomach – can’t even drink orange juice (but I can do multiple shots of whiskey so go figure…). I’ll be keeping an eye on my neighbor no doubt. He saw he the other day and played some air guitar and smiled.

      Shit.

      The moves have sucked, but I’m hoping that I’ll stick around the CA desert for a bit. I can use the rest. So can my guitars and my shoes. Thanks for reading, Tom. I passed on the link to your latest story to some folk that I thought would appreciate it. They loved it, very inspirational. Thanks.

  14. Tom Hansen says:

    Oh, and neighbors? I feel your pain. The girl living in the basement apt of my house I have dubbed “The Nightmare Cow.” It is a well deserved moniker

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      The Nightmare Cow! Ha! Oh, I MAY have to steal that one, Tom. Too funny. Well, I think I’ve beat that horse in my comments about those wailing fuckers out there. They loom. And it’s annoying every single time. Later, bro.

  15. Reeeeeeeeno!

    Good to see you (read you). Man, you always kill me. Such great descriptions told from a Reno-only point of view.

    Let the renolution begin!

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      Nico!

      Hey, sis, and greetings from the dusty desert. Thank you for reading. Those damn neighbors! Like I wrote above I have a few more of these stories hanging around. It never fails that I always find myself in weird beer-drinking, bone-moaning company. But maybe it’s me. Wait! Perhaps, I’m the moaning fucker!?! Shit, let’s hope not. Really, let’s hope not. OK, Nico, take care of your punk rock self out there. Kiss the pooches for me.

      Humpin’,
      Renolution

  16. The man from Michigan says:

    So Reno, I’d be out of my mind if I had to listen to a chick with big tits and no ass having baby-making fun at 9pm every day. Hell, for that matter, I’d be out of my mind if I had to listen to those damn bullfrogs every morning, especially if I didn’t know what the sound was!

    Here’s to the Viking stadium roof!

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      MFM:

      Howdy, partner. Yeah, HUGE mammaries and an ironing board backside: straight up, straight down (thanks, Ice Cube). Pam was like a clock. A clock made up of flesh, fingernails, and Bigfoot sounds. That fucker ruined many a take…

      The Vikes…the roof…Favre and his purple hand…Favre and his text messages…Minnesota packing their bags and heading to the pretentious smog that is Los Angeles…

      Thanks for reading, sir. And when all else fails: do shots.

  17. My neighbours have a back lawn at least 200 feet deep front house to alley. They wait till high summer then try to mow the grass. It sounds like tossing rocks at a ceiling fan, and they always give up halfway through. This week, they’re installing an ice rink. I must confess, I’m pretty excited about that.

    PS: this was *precisely* the story I needed to read tonight. I could tell a fafillion neighbour tales of my own…but this one should remain all about yours. Heh.

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      amanda:

      when i lived in NC i had a backyard that had a hill at the end of the property. i hated mowing that yard. when i moved in my wife at the time was like: “you’re not gonna have a problem mowing the lawn are you?” of course i told her no. but it was a problem. or rather it became a problem after the splendor of mowing the lawn of a house i was buying wore off. and when it did IT DID. i have pictures of me mowing that shit – head down, face drawn…

      hope you get to zip along on that skating rink. i tried ice-skating once. it didn’t pan out. we’ll just leave it at that…

      thanks for reading, pal. i just read your story and was crushed and yet pleased. i was also a bit envious, but in a good way. here i am telling a frivolous tale about some frog, a blond, and a chick who moans like the damned and you wrote a gorgeous tale like i haven’t read in some time.

      you are an amazing writer, amanda miller. know this.

      reno romero

  18. D.R. Haney says:

    This is a return to the Reno of yore. Welcome back, Reno of yore.

    During the summer, the woman who lives next door to me sublet her apartment to a lesbian couple, and one of them was vocal during their romantic encounters to the point where she sounded like she was being murdered. It was remarkable — and remarkably disturbing. I wondered what exactly was being done to her that she carried on the way she did. It didn’t sound remotely as if she were being pleasured.

    As for the true blonde, there is something creepy about seeing something you’re not meant to see, isn’t there?

    My electricity just went out. Huh. The computer is now running on battery power, the only light in my apartment. I don’t know why I mention that, Reno of yore. Or maybe I should call you Bullfrog.

    • New Orleans Lady says:

      Or Moose! Call him Moose!
      too funny!

      • Reno j. Romero says:

        NOL:

        Don’t start, Ash. I’ll hunt you down and give you a beat down. A shellacking. A pummeling. A thrashing. A whoppin’. A nailin’. What do you have to say now, NOL? Skeered? Thought so. Watch your back…

        Umh,
        Moose

        PS: quit neglecting Juan and fork over some worms. Do it!

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      Haney:

      Ahh. Lesbians. Pammy Whammy also sounded like she was being murdered. In fact, I didn’t know if it was screams of pain or pleasure. Either way Pammy Poo was two shakes from me kicking her in the gut. Or the crotch. Loved the gal. Funny as hell. But fuck, really?

      There is something creepy about seeing something you’re not meant to see. I felt like shit and my girlfriend at the time (who ended up being my wife) totally understood how filthy I felt. Well, this was after she laughed her ass off…

      Sorry about the electricity, Duke. There have been a few times I lost my electricity for various reasons. Always a bummer. Always. Anyhow, you can call me anything you want. Take your pick. Take a shot. Hell, I’m a Mexican I can take it. See you in the desert. No guns. Just 40ozers.

  19. Kimberly says:

    “Making friends already, huh?” she said.

    “Always.”

    This is what I love about your stories (and you) the most.

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      kimberly:

      aww. you’re too sweet. if you were my neighbor i’d be friendly-friendly with you, too. you betcha! thanks for reading.

      always,
      reno romero

  20. Slade Ham says:

    Last year (or maybe the year before – it all bleeds together) I lived in five places in a twelve month span. One of the worst was an apartment next door to nine guys that looooooved Tejano music. It became unbearable in that it NEVER stopped. There were nine of them so at least one of them was always home.

    What I would have done for a naked Sarah instead…

    Your cat did do you a solid.

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      slade:

      ugh. tejano music. hate it. in this life AND the next…

      toback did do me a solid. i wish i would have recognized it when it happened. perhaps i would have stuck around for another peak at sara’s stuff. hell, she was hot. way.

  21. Zara Potts says:

    Reeeeeeeeno.
    I like your stories.
    And you new ‘do.
    Zeeee.

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      zeeeeeeeeeeeee:

      hello, there, my dear. well, thanks for reading. and thanks for the thumbs up on my new locks. i look so office-like, eh?

      fush and chups,
      d

  22. Judy Prince says:

    I really enjoyed this, Reno J.

    You described Toback better than the women—-do you realise that? I mean, wives, girlfriends, girl buddies—–all of them took a backseat to Toback. I loved your descrip from the start:

    “I cut off his berries, fed him expensive food, and kept the apartment warm and cozy. But he didn’t give a fuck about my efforts. He was fat and he knew it. He wanted to run with the wind and shed some weight. He didn’t have any balls and he knew that. He wanted to look at girl kitties for old time’s sake in hopes that his ghost nuts would twitch reminding him that, yes, he was still a man cat, that, yes, he was still alive. One night I slipped and left the sliding door open. Despite his weight Toback still had some wheels and I caught him flash out the door and over the wall and into the Great Wide Open.”

    The close of the post is terrific, as well.

    Keep it coming, Reno J!

    David Bruce Winery’s Petite Sirrah in a short thick glass and Mancheco sheep cheese oh yeah

    Judy

    • New Orleans Lady says:

      You’re right, Judy!

      I didn’t notice until you said something but he always mentions women in his stories. Usually you just get a line or two. Blonde, nice body, and always mentions the eyes. That’s it.

      But Toback…wow.

      what does this mean, Moose?

      • Reno j. Romero says:

        NOL:

        Well, pumpkin pie, this means that I loved that creature. A lot. Do I always mentions the LADIES in my stories? I think you’re right. Well, they’re part of the scene – always poking around and stirring up the pot. You know how THEY are, Ash. Right?

        Lace and More Lace,
        The Moose

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      Judy!

      Hey, you’re right I did give that gorge creature some stage lights. Well, I loved that cat. Getting Toback was my girlfriend’s (who ended up being my wife) idea, but he cottoned to me and he soon became “my” cat. This was fine with me and I look back at our time together with full and yet empty heart. I loved him so much.

      I used to call him Agent Double Meow because every time he came into my bedroom he announced his entrance with two meows. Kinda sounded like: rare, rare!

      I would do skits with him saying things like:

      “Agent Double Meow we have shenanigans going on in the governor’s coterie. We need you to go in, find out what the hell is going on and clean house. Now, if you choose to take this assignment remember that you’re life will be at risk…”

      “Rare, rare.”

      Anyhow, you get the idea.

      Thank for reading, Judy. You’re the best.

      Chorizo and Lemonade,
      Reno

      • Judy Prince says:

        Love that sample skit with Toback, Reno J! HA!

        Have you made me go mad? I feel this thing coming on that says you’ll be writing a book about a man and his weird cat. Yoiks! But why not? We’ve got plenty of men writing poems and short stories about their cats, so why not a complete, total, entire, absolute book about a man and his cat?! Y the hell not?!!

        Rodent and I have a good poet friend named Patrick who has a cat named Vile Boris that is an absolute weird character. Rodent saw him once and said he wouldn’t get closer than looking up the staircase at Vile Boris unless he was wearing leather gauntlets. Years after Vile Boris had situated himself comfortably at Patrick’s house, his granddaughter gave him a cat named Asher who is one of those smarmy cat types that sits on the computer keyboard and acts cute just to get some cat kibble or whatever it is that cats eat. Vile Boris took one look at Asher—–and split! He went to Patrick’s girlfriend’s house (from whence he had originally come), never to return.

        Have you ever seen or heard of a catflap? They have them in England. They look like letter flaps in the front door, but slightly bigger though not big enough for a person to get through, just a cat who can come in and go out of the house when it wants.

        Roll on, Reno J!

        steamed new potatoes with butter and olive oil……and red grape juice with 2 twists of lime,

        Judy

        • Reno j. Romero says:

          Judy:

          In the past I have written stories personifying animals. Pigs. A flying squirrel. Dogs. A singing scorpion and a rattle snake who drinks beer. I have a blast writing these tales. Never thought of writing something about Toback – just have mentioned him here and there.

          Vile Boris! Great name!

          I have never heard of a catflap. But it sounds genius. I’ve always said to folk w/ entrepreneurial ways: there’s two ways to make big cash. 1) make shit for babies/children. clothes, blip machines, anything. 2) pet stuff.

          Sure winners.

          Yes, you bet, tons of competition, but if you get in and has something delicious for the masses it’s a wrap.

          Lordy.

          Bye, Judy, and thanks again.

          Potato Tacos and Onion Rings,
          Reno

        • Judy Prince says:

          Reno, you’re in fantastic company with animal stories. Going waaaay back, too, and, naturally, in every culture.

          I’m remembering what Rodent told me about fellow Scot, Robert Henryson (born 1460, died 1510) who wrote animal fables. They weren’t intended to be humourous, but rather they commented upon the dark side of humans’ lives and behaviours. His fabled creatures are listed here and you can read the Wiki article about him by wiki’ing his name, Robert Henryson:

          “Individual fables

          Seven of the stories in Henryson’s cycle are Aesopian fables derived from elegaic Romulus texts, while the other six (given in italics) are Reynardian in genre.

          01 The Cock and the Jasp
          02 The Twa Mice
          03 The Cock and the Fox
          04 The Confession of the Tod
          05 The Trial of the Tod
          06 The Sheep and the Dog
          07 The Lion and the Mouse
          08 The Preaching of the Swallow
          09 The Fox the Wolf and the Cadger
          10 The Fox the Wolf and the Husbandman
          11 The Wolf and the Wether
          12 The Wolf and the Lamb
          13 The Paddock and the Mouse”
          ——-

          Rodent knows quite a bit about Henryson’s fables, so if you want any questions answered, just let me know back channel and I’ll pass them along to him.

          I can’t read the Middle Medieval Scots that Henryson wrote his fables in, though I’ve tried. Before ever hearing of him, I wrote a weird long poem about a fox and sent it to the wonderful Scottish poet Tom Leonard who then recommended that I read Henryson’s fables! You’d love Tom Leonard’s poems, Reno J! He helped start the Glasgow language wars in 1966. Here’s one of his poems called “The 6 o’clock News,”

          ‘The 6 O’Clock News’

          Tom Leonard

          this is thi
          six a clock
          news thi
          man said n
          thi reason
          a talk wia
          BBC accent
          iz coz yi
          widny wahnt
          mi ti talk
          aboot thi
          trooth wia
          voice lik
          wanna yoo
          scruff. if
          a toktaboot
          thi trooth
          lik wanna yoo
          scruff yi
          widny thingk
          it wuz troo.
          jist wanna yoo
          scruff tokn.
          thirza right
          way ti spell
          ana right way
          to tok it. this
          is me tokn yir
          right way a
          spellin. this
          is ma trooth.
          yooz doant no
          thi trooth
          yirsellz cawz
          yi canny talk
          right. this is
          the six a clock
          nyooz. belt up.
          —-

          Here’s a YouTube video of him reading another of his poems called “The Good Thief”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-qpWM__4WA:

          Tom Leonard is one of the most revolutionary, inspiring folks I’ve ever met, Reno J. After listening to one of his talks in Glasgow, Scotland, an audience member stood up and said that she’d been bipolar for several years, and hearing what he said had changed her life view, giving her hope and freedom from her suffering. Rodent and I were in the audience, and I totally agreed with the woman’s opinion of Tom Leonard’s writing and speaking power.

          veggie soup with lotsa garlic!

          Judy

        • Reno j. Romero says:

          Judy:

          Wow. That is some amazing stuff. Much appreciation. Very, very, cool of you. I love Native American stories – the Trickster being one of my all-time favorite characters in all of literature. He’s always up to some shit and it cracks me up every time I reread one of them tales. I like writing out of the box and personifying animals always serves as a good time. Thanks again for the info and the link, Judy. You’re amazing and very thoughtful.

          Pastrami and Eggnog,
          Reno

        • Judy Prince says:

          “In the past I have written stories personifying animals. Pigs. A flying squirrel. Dogs. A singing scorpion and a rattle snake who drinks beer. I have a blast writing these tales.”

          I’d love to read those stories, Reno J!

          Well, you sent me on a chase for the Trickster. Turns out that many of the stories I’ve read from kidhood to now have been different cultures’ Trickster stories. The following article by Terri Windling most caught my attention throughout, and it has an awesome list of books and other sources about Trickster stories worldwide:

          http://www.endicott-studio.com/rdrm/rrtricksters1.html

          Here’s an excerpt from Terri Windling’s article:

          “Trickster is still alive and well in the 21st century, for he’s infinitely adaptable — appearing as a stand–up comedian, a shock–jock radio host, a Hopi clown embarrassing the tourists, a cartoon rabbit munching on a carrot, a coyote sneaking through the underbrush. Contemporary storytellers have put a modern twist on traditional Trickster myths, using the old stories as springboards for creating new Trickster tales for our time. You’ll find Trickster plying his trade in such clever novels as Charles de Lint’s Someplace to Be Flying, Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, Maxine Hong Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey, Margaret Mahey’s The Tricksters, Christopher Moore’s Coyote Blue, Louis Owens’ Bone Game, Midori Snyder’s Hannah’s Garden, Ellen Steiber’s A Rumor of Gems, Albertine Strong’s Deluge, Gerald Vizenor’s Chancers, and many others. (A longer list of contemporary Trickster fiction can be found at the end of this article.) Though female Tricksters have long been overshadowed by their masculine counterparts, they too are now turning up in increasing numbers in fiction and other forms of storytelling — from television comedies (such as I Love Lucy) to music videos (by Madonna and others) to children’s picture books (such as Margaret Shannon’s The Red Wolf). This indicates to me that there’s nothing essentially male about the archetype; liars and fools come in both genders, as do culture makers and destroyers. It’s simply that the Trickster archetype is more relevant to the lives of women and girls in societies where they have gained a measure of independence and personal freedom. Trickster, after all, is the ultimate Free Spirit, unwilling to be bound by society’s conventions, traditions, and expectations. Trickster shows the creative potential in such freedom, as well as its potential for disaster. We can all learn from that, men and women alike, and we all have a bit of Trickster in us.”
          ——————-

          almond butter on garlic crackers,

          Judy who just noticed that Richard Cox has a new gravatar—-what is it?!

        • Reno j. Romero says:

          Judy!

          Ok, I’m on out the door right now, but I wanted to get back to you before you saddle up w/ a bottle of hooch and sing slurry xmas jams…

          The Trickster is great. I love him/her/it. Classic liar, thief, fool, genius, clown, etc. There’s gobs of books out there. I bought my granny one (before she passed) and we busted up many times over a stiff drink at how crazy the ol’ Trickster was. Anyhow, good deal, Judy. Have a great weekend.

          Spam and Waffles,
          Reno

        • Judy Prince says:

          I bet your granny was awesome, Reno J!

          I’m a granny and think it’s about time I started reading Trickster stories to the little grandbuggers. Wait—–I’ll make up a Trickster story for them!

          Reese cup cheesecake and Dr Pepper,

          Judy

        • Reno Romero says:

          Judy!

          She was great. Lover of books, Steely Dan (uh, the band that is…), craziness, and vodka. She was one of my best friends and I miss her dearly. You should read some Trickster tales and put your own spin on them. Your grandbuggers will love them. Take care, Judy, and thanks again.

          Sugar Babies and Coleslaw,
          Reno

        • Judy Prince says:

          Your Granny rocked!!!!

          Reno J, you’re my Muse—–you’ve made my day!

          I’ve read lotsa Trickster stories my whole life without realising they were called Trickster.

          One of my main goals in these last few years has been to write and illustrate stories for my grandbuggers. The stories are weird, as you might expect. Now they grandbuggers are old enough to get truly weird Trickster stories, so you’ve steered me into the noxious, buxom, brilliant, bountiful story world, you’ve further freed the trickster in Judy. I hope you’re happy with your role. 😉

          Rodent just showed me an English translation of Rabelais’ *Pantagruelian Prognostications* (trans by Peter Motteux, 1694). I know you’ll like this list of names for “light women”:

          “Those whom Venus is said to rule, as Punks, Jills, Flirts, Queans, Morts, Doxies, Strumpets, Buttocks, Blowings, Tits, Pure Ones, Concubines, Convenients, Cracks, Drabs, Trulls, Light-skirts, Wrigglers, Misses, Cats, Riggs, Try’d Virgins, Bonarobaes, Barbers Chairs, Hedge-whores, Wagtails, Cockatrices, Whipsters, Wiggers, Harlots, Kept-Wenches, Kindhearted-things, Ladies of Pleasure . . . . . .”

          In a nother comment I’ll type in the names for Whoremasters (i.e., pimps). What a hoot!

        • Reno Romero says:

          Judy!

          That’s fandamntastic! I think there’s a little Trickster in all of us. Like your one of your comments mentioned you see the Trickster lingering around all over the place. The character is alive and well and is not going anywhere. This is a cool thing. But you know by now: I love the prankster, I love shenanigans, I love throwing crap in the air for the sole purpose of seeing how it lands.

          Thanks my friend. I dig you a lot.

          Popcorn and Deviled Eggs,
          R

  23. Richard Cox says:

    Holy fuckeroo, Reno. This one gave me the LOLs. Kudos to you, sir. You have such a great sense of humor.

    “Pam must have had a super cooter because Greg put a ring on her damn finger and she moved in with him a month later.”

    Or “He was married, had two gruesome kids, but he smoked poles on the side.”

    Hahahaha.

    Way to go, Bullfrog. Moose. Whatever.

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      Richard:

      Good morning, sir, and thanks for the kind comments.

      Pam…

      You know, I was looking through some old notes last night and found another Pam story. I think it’ll prompt a part II. Super cooter? You bet. Sumpin’ was up, Mr. Cox. Sure, she was great person, but good deep sex will ALWAYS help matters. Doesn’t shitty sex not help matters? Well, at least in my experience I find this to be true. So Whammy had it going on.

      Super cooter.

      Magic Vajayjay.

      Or whatever.

      Thanks again, bro. Tell Oklahoma hello for me.

  24. Simon Smithson says:

    I think Toback was getting revenge for his nut surgery. He figured the best revenge was living well; running around, enjoying himself, while you had to freeze, and look, but wish you were somewhere else as a naked woman walked by.

    Fuckin’ Toback.

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      Simon:

      Ha! I think you’re right, Smithson: it was revenge. I had the man’s berries rip off an he didn’t appreciate it one bit. But if that’s the case the revenge was, uh, sweet revenge. Sara was delicious. You would have liked her – make you pack up your stuff and wanna saddle up. Lord…

  25. Brilliant, man, brilliant. Hilarious stories. Wish I had a few neighbour stories, but unfortunately I think I’m the weird neighbour that someone else will write about. So be it.

    Well, in Korea there was one guy who would take the most massive kimchi shit every Sunday morning. It was so bad that it would work its way through the walls. Every. Sunday. Fucking. Morning.

    Your cat makes me laugh, too. I have two female cats so they don’t have issues with their berries having been chopped off. In fact, one of them is called “Berry.” She’s a fatty and she doesn’t know it. She jumps on top of cardboard boxes and they fold beneath her immense bulk.

  26. MLP says:

    First of all, you look good boy in that new avatar. Are you doing South Beach or something?

    Second, what incense does Reno Romero burn?

    Third, this was like a literary Boogie Nights and I loved it. You ARE always making friends.

    • Reno j. Romero says:

      MLP:

      South Beach! Heh. Well, thanks. Very sweet.

      I love incense (hippie folks turned me onto that shit in womb) and tend to burn most of them depending on my mood.

      But I looooove nag champa. It makes me crazy. I don’t know what it is with that scent. I find it delicious. You?

      Well, MLP, thanks for reading. Time to run. Running shorts: check. Running shirt: check…

      Always,
      RR

  27. Reno j. Romero says:

    Wills:

    Yo. Like you, I think I’m the crazy neighbor. And I know I am. Crazy finds crazy. Just the way it is. But wait! A massive kimchi shit! NASTY! Ha! You know, David, now because of your stories when I hear/think of Korea I think of shit. I don’t know if this is a good thing, but it’s hysterical and I’ll take funny over everything. Everything. When I think of the DMZ I think of shit. When I heard deadly rockets were primed and ready to go I thought of it being filled with shit. You get the idea.

    Thanks for reading, man.

    In Cats,
    R

    • Ha! Rockets filled with shit. That would be quite a military strategy, but I doubt that even after a million rockets were launched from the North, Seoul would not notice the difference.

      I’ve been in China for about two months now and I must say that there is as much, if not more, shit on the streets than in Korea. The toilets are worse, too. Absolutely wretched places. At least they haven’t discovered shit-needling just yet…

  28. dwoz says:

    Ok, now MY gaydar is buzzing.

    A real hetero guy would have gone ’round to the front of Sara’s place, rung up the doorbell, ready with a “have you seen my cat” line. Just to see whether the coins landed heads or tails.

    Opportunity is a fickle sprite.

    And muses are not a dime a dozen, as guitarists are.

    🙂

  29. Reno Romero says:

    DWOZ:

    Heh. You are a cutie patootie. Sure, I should have used that line. Missed opportunity indeed. Sorry, that I’m not a “real” hetero. Perhaps you can give me the number of your hairstylist. I’m sure that’ll change your mind and get me stacks of vagina. Until that macho day I blame it on my Christian upbringing. And other things. Perhaps the guy that banged me in summer camp. Can’t say. Cheers, DWOZ. The guitar calls.

    Ball Lickin’,
    RR

    • dwoz says:

      maybe if I had used FOUR smiley icons instead of just one?

      I’m afraid, being of Polish ancestry, my hairstylist has alas, been downsized. Lack of work.

      I’m only quick on my feet in internet comment boards, not real life, so likely I risk being swept up in the “not real hetero” net too. Strange netfellows, we’d be.

      Just curious…did you REALLY take offense? I’m having a real hard time reading the tone, it sounds almost as if you have sand in your gash. If so, please accept my humble apologies. I took you to be a bit more bullet-proof than that. Bassist that I am, I can be a retard at times. And yes, it IS politically correct to call a bassist a retard.

      • Reno Romero says:

        DWOZ!

        Hey, man! Good morning. No, no offense taken. Hell, I was having fun myself. Well, I tried to come off that way. Perhaps, I failed. I also failed to ask for the name of the gym that you went to, your mechanic, gun you carried, etc. You know, DWOZ, all that hetero stuff. That may have put more light in the tone of the comment.

        So have no fear. If I’m fortunate enough for you take out the time to read my junk keep chucking whatever is on your mind. I was busting up at your comment. Still am. Hey: your GAYDAR should be buzzing. I messed up. But I still have the memory and sometimes that’s good enough. Bassist, eh? Nice. Wait! Guitarists are a dime a dozen. Sad but true. Okay, man, have a great football Sunday. See you on stage.

        Still Ball Lickin’,
        RR

        • dwoz says:

          Football Sunday??????

          In what universe would I ever get to have a football Sunday? That’ s what REAL MEN do on Sunday. Not me.

          My day will be spent ferrying dancers around to their respective Nutcracker performances. If that isn’t some kind of subliminal comment about my masculinity, I don’t know what is.

          I have never owned nor fired a gun. Charlton Heston not only wouldn’t waste words on me, I’d likely be invisible to him.

          I am a first tenor.

          My mechanic thinks I’m a blonde. At least, that’s how it feels, talking to him.

          Not only that, but I’m pedantic. I consider the proper spelling of my nickname to be all lowercase.

          About the only thing masculine about me, is that I have a sperm count that required a new scale factor to measure. Which probably has something to do with my progeny count, now that I think about it. That, and I am capable of hitting a low E with some authority and gravitas.

          Plus, a confession. In your shoes I likely would have looked until I was blinded, and sorted out the moral problem later. Thus, you’re a far better man than I.

        • Reno Romero says:

          dwoz (shit, sorry…):

          what? no football sunday for you? what gives, dwoz? well, to be honest, i get it. i’m a sucker for football. i could give a rat’s ass about about basketball (well, until the playoffs), baseball, golf (not a sport but you get the idea), hockey, etc. i do go fucking nuts for MMA fighting.

          no gun shooting? not once? shit, perhaps i’m the macho one here. i used to own a handful of guns and was a pretty dam good shot. never shot at bambi. but coming from East L.A there was a few human bastards that i wanted to kill. and if not kill give them a lifelong limp. or two fingers missing off of their writing hand.

          thanks for chiming in, dwoz. keep hitting them notes. take care, sir.

          r

  30. Meg Worden says:

    Reno,
    This post is brilliant.
    I have just made my fourth move in 2 years and can so relate.
    Holy Fuck.
    Your descriptions of these humans render them lovely in their grotesque and all too real-ness. And, I have to second the double thumbs up on the super cat description. Berries. Love.

    • Reno Romero says:

      Meg:

      Hello, Meg. Ah, so you’ve been packing and unpacking, too. As you know it’s a bummer. I’m tired of it and hope and pray to the Moving Gods that they will leave me be for a bit. That would be nice. I hope they shine down some light your way as well.

      If not: Holy Fuck is right. Enough is, well, fucking enough!

      Thanks for your time, Meg. Toback was a grand friend and a beautiful creature. I wish we had more days together. OK, you have a great weekend and a happening holiday. Take care out there.

      Berries,
      Reno Romero

  31. Gloria says:

    I wanted to charge upstairs, kick down her door, and punch her in the throat. I wanted to tell Greg to quit fucking her. <—— I laughed out loud at that. While eating a tuna sandwich, which I, appropriately enough, kind of choked on a little.

    This is the second posting where you mention pretty hands in a string of admirable physical attributes for a woman. Interesting. Hand thing. Everybody has their body thing. For me, it’s the eyes. I don’t car what the rest of you looks like if you have remarkable eyes. I knew this guy that loved the place on a lady’s neck just above the clavicle. He was crazy about it. (On a side note, if we ever meet, I’ll be sure to shake your hands with gloves on, as I have chunky, big-knuckled hands with square fingernails – they look like weird animal appendages from the Devonian era.)

    Congratulations on your move and good luck settling in!

  32. Reno Romero says:

    Gloria!

    Hey! How are you? First, thanks for reading my junk. Ok second: Hands. Well, I can’t say that I have a “thing” for hands, but I DO like pretty hands. I once dated this crazy fucker that used to bite her nails so I can appreciate a nice pair of digs. In fact, she had bunions too. So her tips were ugly. Both ends. But she did have pretty eyes and could wolf down Wild Turkey with the best of them. She was also the Nookie Queen so I guess that’s worth something.

    My hands are NOT what they used to be. At one time they were smooth (they are, for the record, still soft), void of wrinkles. But these days – as the years have gone by – are starting to show their age. This is not cool. But what do you do? Can’t do shit. Speaking of hands once again: I once dated an absolutely beautiful woman (really one of the prettiest things I ever saw) that had bad hands. She knew it and it bummed her out to no end. Just the way things work. When we do meet in person don’t sweat it. They’re not a deal breaker. Hell, we’ll both wear gloves. Boxing gloves. Motorcycle gloves. You call the shots. Deal? All right. Bye, Gloria.

    Fits Like a Glove,
    Reno

    • Reno Romero says:

      Gloria!

      Wait!

      I DID want to punch her in the throat.

      Sure, I wouldn’t have. But the thought was there.

      Could you imagine the dude’s reaction if I pulled him aside and told him to please stop fucking her?

      That’s a keeper…

  33. ping golf says:

    ping golf…

    […]Reno J. Romero | Neighbors | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

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