Oh, Brookline. It’s hard to believe that I have been living in this…colorful Pittsburgh town since 1999. There are times when I get all high and mighty and rant about how I can’t wait to get the fuck out of Brookline and how it’s so trashy and full of Yinzers. But the reality is that Brookline is not entirely trashy—there are some really nice streets with nice houses that do not have tires and rusty car parts decorating the yard. My friends Gina and Elissa live in Brookline and they are not trashy. Nor are they Yinzers. I just get so angry living here sometimes, on this particular block, and start casting aspersions every which way and now everyone probably thinks I live in a trailer park next to a swamp. I should probably stop doing that because it’s been long enough now since I moved out of Mommy’s big suburban sprawl that I shouldn’t have this judgey outlook on my crappy town anymore. I mean, yeah, we found a discarded syringe strewn in the grass alongside our house one day, but you know, it only happened that one time!
And recently, thanks to the two years Chooch spent in Catholic school, I learned that there is an entire ward of uppity rich assholes who also reside somewhere in Brookline, can you even imagine. Probably somewhere us poor people can’t access, I’m sure.
I think Brookline must have been really something back when all the old Irish people were my age.
To be honest, I’m pretty certain we will wind up staying in Brookline, even if the time comes where we can finally buy a house. It really is entertaining, and so fucking close to everything I need: the fucking trolley, both of our jobs, CVS, the post office, dive bars, hoppin’ breakfast spots where you can get any style potatoe (sic). But it’s the cast of characters that make it awesome, especially in summer when we can sit on the porch and know for a fact that we will be seeing our nearly-nude hyper-tanned ex-lawn cutter Joe or cop cars flying past en route to a drug den. (No more Robin, though; she moved a few summers ago and it was pretty much the worst day ever for me.) Brookline is like a gathering den for weird people. There was, what I thought to be anyway, a rumor about how when patients were discharged from one of the local mental hospitals, they were put on a bus and only given enough fare to make it to Brookline. My friend Bonecrusher confirmed a few years ago that this is actually kind of fact-based, because Brookline has several rehabilitation houses that take in people like that, and one of those houses is literally two houses up from me. I really lucked out.
For instance, we have a new addition to our tenement-esque block: some middle aged man who lives in his small red truck which he parks on the road. I’ve been referring to him as Truck Dweller, and one day I caught him a having a conversation with Purple Pants! Purple Pants speaks to no one, so that’s how I know Truck Dweller is special. I see him every day when I leave the house for work, sitting in the back of his truck with his transistor radio. Sometimes, he knocks on the door of the house he parks in front of, so I guess he knows them well enough to ask for a cup of sugar, I don’t know.
Saturday was a really good day to be living in Brookline. First, there was some stupid race that ran past my house so we got to mock the walkers from our bedroom window. And from there, I encountered some new and old savory Brookline specimen, including Purple Pants and Tourette’s! I even compiled a video for you, mostly because I’m still obsessing over that Christopher Cross song I heard last Sunday while getting ice cream; it had been years since I heard it, you guys, so now I need to spread it over my blog like a gooey yeast infection!
But first, some things to note: There used to be these two fucking bitches working the counter at the Brookline post office and they made it the most unpleasant experience anytime I had to—GOD FORBID—ask them to slap a stamp on a package for me. I haven’t seen them in months. During the week now, there is a quiet, efficient man with salt and pepper hair who doesn’t mess around with small talk and that’s perfectly OK by me because I have nothing to say to these people other than “no” when they ask me if anything is fragile or perishable. I guess they save the ultra-happy guy for Saturdays. I had my phone in my purse recording for about 3 minutes while I was in there, and holy fuck did he laugh a lot!
“Let me guess….Erica?” he asked after he smoothed a stamp across the box I was TRYING to mail in peace.
“Wha—?” I started, unnerved as usual that someone was frivolously speaking to me.
“I was just trying to guess your name,” he explained, pointing to the “E.Kelly” scrawled in the return address on the package. “I feel like I’ve seen a lot of mail for Erica Kelly when I’m sorting,” he added, punctuating his stalkery statement with that boisterous laugh that kept making me feel like I was on some stupid hidden camera show. (Is that even a thing anymore?)
I told him it wasn’t my name, but he was still studying my return address.
“You’re getting a new mail carrier!” he shared. “He starts today, actually.” Now I was starting to feel like he was trying to keep me there longer so he could win at some reality game.
“Oh, really? That’s cool,” I said. What do you say to the prospect of a new mail carrier? Just get my mail to me at a decent hour, and don’t shred my Alternative Press when you shove it into the mail slot, that’s all I give a shit about.
“Don’t get too excited, he’s not that good.” And then that laugh again, which followed me out of the post office like the sound of a clown operating a rape kit.
Later that evening, we took Henry’s mom to dinner at Amel’s, which is kind of in Brookline. I don’t really know what it’s considered. But it’s close and has a neon light shish kebab splayed across the facade, which has always enticed me in the years I’ve lived mere minutes away. Yet this was my virginal Amel’s experience. The interior was dark, full of mismatched florals and incongruously modern light fixtures. I liked it.
And I totally had a crush on our waiter.
“He keeps coming over with his hands behind his back, like he’s HIDING SOMETHING,” Chooch practically screamed across the entire dining room.
Judy has been watching Chooch for us basically every goddamn day and all those two do is bicker. They were in the middle of a semantics disagreement when the waiter came over and interrupted. “We’re like oil and water,” Judy muttered to the waiter, whose name may have been Lee but who even cares? He reminded me of this guy from The Carrie Diaries, but with less-Rebel Without a Cause-y hair.
Anyway, god only knows why Judy would choose to spend one of her off-days with us. I GUESS SHE LOVES US, YOU GUYS. What a novel thought. Someone should teach my family about that.
Still, by the end of dinner (after a huge dessert debacle during which Chooch and I couldn’t decide on the same thing to share until Henry finally shouted, Jesus Christ, each of you just get your own thing!” probably because he knew he would be finishing off our scraps anyway, but the strawberry coconut cake I wanted ended up being all gone at which point Chooch laughed raucously at my sadness, only to have some chick come back to tell him that his stupid cake was unavailable too HAHAHA), Judy only half-joked that Henry take Chooch home before taking her home because she lives farther away and was basically saying, “I’ve had it with your son for the evening, please relieve me.”
Meanwhile, I had already been planning on walking home (maybe like a two mile walk, because I went the back way instead of walking the short way which is on a busy, sidewalk-free main road) because I essentially have a slight eating disorder now where after I eat something that doesn’t have Weight Watchers point on the side of the box, I panic and think that I’m going to gain two chins back, so I have to hurry up and do some form of physical activity STAT. Walking home definitely wouldn’t eradicate that blueberry cheesecake I ate, but I knew I would at least feel less slovenly. Chooch agreed to walk home with me, which is where we spotted Purple Pants!
Chooch never stopped talking the entire walk home, which took about 30 minutes I guess. We made it home before Henry,w ho of course had locked the deadbolt before we left the house that day, and I don’t have that key. Just the regular house key. So we got to sit on the porch and act like we meant to do that.
Janna came over later and the three of us walked to CVS to rent Evil Dead (it’s so convenient having a Red Box so close, especially now that I know how to use it!) and on the way back, I spotted Tourette’s approaching so I pretended to care about what Chooch was ranting about (the Dessert Debacle, apparently) just so I could capture a piece of Tourette’s. I’m sad he wasn’t randomly shouting, “YOU MOTHERFUCKER!!” to the shrubbery, though.
That night, after we finished the movie, I took it upon myself to walk it back to the Red Box since the idea of that cheesecake was still Riverdancing around my love handles. On the way there, I passed an older man walking with a cane, and we exchanged pleasantries. Since I don’t walk with a cane, I ended up catching up to him on my way back home, so I crossed the street instead of having to awkwardly walk around him. What? I didn’t want him to feel bad that he can’t walk as fast as me!
So I returned home and was sitting on the porch with Henry and Janna when Cane Man finally made it to our block. As he was walking past our house, he stopped and asked if any of us had any cigarettes. We said no, and I was like, “He should ask Truck Dweller!” because the other day I saw Truck Dweller sitting in his truck with an entire cigar box full of cigarettes and I bet he rolled those sons of bitches himself, too.
“That was Truck Dweller,” Henry said, and I watched in disbelief as, sure as shit, the man with the cane walked a few more paces down the sidewalk and climbed into the small red pickup.
“OMG I SPOKE TO TRUCK DWELLER!!” I shouted giddily, and Henry told me to shut up.
And all of that was just to say, “Here, watch this 1:30 minute video I made!”
Sometimes, Brookline, I really fucking love you.
(And of course the irony to all of this is that I’m the fucking weirdo running around taking pictures and videos, not them.)