Sunday, April 13, 2008
Roger Williams Park in Providence is the second largest mid-city park in the country after New York's Central Park. It was also laid out by the same landscape designer so it's very elegant and wild at the same time. There are serpentine lakes with many bridges, a Japanese garden, a boathouse, a zoo, and even a small amusement park with a beautiful antique carousel right by the water. At least that's the way it used to be but perhaps it's all been turned into condos since then. Garth (full name - Garth Cold Nose Strong Heart) and I spent many hours and many miles exploring its paths.
We lived at the end of Bartlett Ave. in an old Victorian tenement house on the second floor.. a big apartment with a front parlor, middle parlor, dining room, 2 bedrooms and screened verandah. There were lots of windows overlooking the park. We slept in the front tower since it was like being in the middle of a forest glade with the lake just across the way and the Temple to Music across the water. The kitchen and dining area we used were at the opposite end in another tower. It was nice.
The thing about living in apartments though, is that sometimes you wind up having neighbors who may be a little on the strange side and one of them moved into the place above ours at the end of a winter. At first she appeared to be very normal and so much so that we wondered what she was doing living in our building rather than a bungalow in the suburbs.
There had already been some odd characters in and out of the other apartments including one family who'd lived downstairs for a few months the previous summer. Fights had been raging at all hours but one day the guy stayed home and played 'Stayin' Alive' over and over at top volume for 10 hours straight followed by taking an aluminum baseball bat to all the windows, furniture and anyone who didn't get out of his way. Then he jumped in the family car and tore off down the road at full speed until he was stopped by a tree. The rest of them moved that night.
Anyway, back to the new third floor neighbor. We learned she'd moved out of the bungalow she'd shared with her husband and young daughter and that she worked as a secretary at a local college. During the week the little girl lived with her mother and everything was as quiet as you'd expect but when Friday afternoons rolled around dad came by on his scooter to take the girl off for the weekend. Mom, wearing her usual Mrs. Cleaver outfit, would wave good-bye but once they were safely out of sight she'd gallop upstairs and change into hot pants and halter. Like clockwork, within five minutes she'd be back downstairs waiting for 'the boys'. I do mean boys.
Now this lady was at least 40 and probably more but it seemed that while working at the school she'd developed a taste for much younger men.. and not just one in particular. She liked all of them and preferably in groups. Sometimes several carloads would park outside and all the guys would troop upstairs carrying beer, snacks and goodness knows what and partying would ensue until they either got tired or had to go home to their parents.
It came to be time for the 4th of July fireworks display that happened close to the Temple to Music every year and we invited our family over for a picnic dinner on the lawn outside our place before the show. Naturally, we weren't out there alone since lots of people came from further up the street so they'd be there for the fireworks too. Unbeknownst to us Mrs Hotpants had visitors of her own and just as everyone was eating, talking, laughing and playing (lots of kids) we heard terrific shrieks coming from above. Everybody stopped what they'd been doing and looked up at the third floor windows to see two guys holding a naked Mrs. HP. outside her window and kind of jiggling her up and down. It was a show nobody had expected.
Maybe she wasn't as anonymous as she'd imagined and maybe someone had made a phone call but the end result was that she was gone a few days later.The house was quiet again for a long time after that. People are strange, aren't they?