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Where Is the Fishdinner.

June 12, 2010

Fish on sale in Phu Quoc, Vietnam. Dec 2009

In our lovely Ditmas Park neighborhood, the scale can seem somewhat off. These enormous Victorian houses are, after all, still in NYC, so they are veryveryclosetogether. Many a house shares a driveway with the one next door, and the one we live in is one of those. Henry’s room is right on the driveway. It also overlooks the garage behind the house.

“Poor child,” you are thinking. “It’ll be a wonder if he isn’t intellectually and perhaps emotionally stunted by his sub-par view.” And here is my retort: it’s actually lovely and leafy and flowery with a blackberry tree, and the garage has masks hanging on it that our landlord made, with illumination under their chins. And if you can get past the scariness of having stonewhite faces staring at you all night long, it’s really pretty dang special and arty and, dare I say, to channel some edu-speak, enriching. One of Henry’s favorite quiet activities is grip his special blanket and to gaze out onto the leaves and flowers and plants on and around the garage. He does not seem afraid.

But again, it is very close to the next house. To determine small distances, I spread my fingers wide and gauge the distance between end of thumb and end of pinky, which is just about an eight-inch stretch for everyone. I can state with absolute certainly that we are more than 8 inches away from the house next door. To determine larger distances, I consider whether or not I could lay down in the space. And I think that I could probably lay down once between the houses, but not twice. So, maybe 8 feet? The space is so tight that as you back out of the driveway — not that I am allowed to park there, as a tenant, but I have for moments at a time — you find yourself physically shrugging your shoulders so as to be smaller, though that wouldn’t change the dimensions of the car.

Also, while we are on a very residential block, we back up to the back of the buildings on Coney Island Avenue, which is famous for all of the auto body repair shops and fabric stores and Bangladeshi sweet shops. And what’s directly behind us? Well, we live directly behind the largest mosque in Brooklyn. At least it *used* to be the largest mosque, but they have been enlarging it for a few years now, so now it might be the largest mosque in the world. This is just conjecture, but I’m just saying: it is possible. However, I have seen pictures of Mecca, and it does look like Mecca is probably still winning for bigness. At any rate the mosque construction somehow hasn’t bother me too much.

What this is leading up to, of course, is what *does* bother me. But you knew that, right?

Our neighbor’s house, the house that is so close to us, backs up to a restaurant. The restaurateur, lately, has found himself with a need to do some construction. The restaurateur doesn’t want to dent his business with construction, and so he cut some sort of deal with our neighbor. The deal is that a construction company (which the restaurateur also apparently owns, because he is a POWERFUL MOGUL WHO IS RUINING MY LIFE, JUST READ ON) can use his driveway, and completely trample and destroy the neighbor’s tiny little yard in order to get access to the back of the restaurant, which is apparently the part that needs the work done. And, as I stated earlier, our neighbor’s driveway is also our driveway. Our neighbor could not be a nicer man, which may be why he granted access to the mogul. So the mogul sends all of the construction workers, and concrete, and forklifts, and demolition vehicles, to park literally directly under my tiny son’s window.

Not that my son doesn’t love forklifts, because man alive, he does. And if there were a forklift with a siren on it . . .  I don’t even know what. But if there’s one inarguable fact about people who are approximately one, it’s that they must nap. Napping is a non-negotiable. Even one a sixteen-month old who *does* take an absolutely sumptious nap tends to throw himself onto the floor when he doesn’t get his way, and so a tired one just trips and falls over and screams most of the time, getting bruises, and eggs on their head, and you don’t even want to know about the kickmarks that their parental companions sustain. So while this mogul is worried about denting his business, what he has done with his private construction company is demolish my lifestyle by robbing us of all we care about, which is sleep.

Does the man care? You know, he hasn’t spoken to me personally, but to the homeowners around here, he definitely tries to present himself as a pretty nice guy. He speaks in grand, sweeping terms and makes grand, sweeping promises. For instance, he came over and threw his arm around my landlord’s neck, explaining, “You and me? We’re brothers. We must work together.” The mogul is always offering to “take care of things” for my landlord. Mostly, these things are things that the mogul himself as broken.

So while the “brothers” sentiment is an awesome one, my landlord is pretty crabby about how his brother cracked the new driveway entrance he just put in, and how he peeled a bunch of shingles off of his home. And since the landlord has a driveway, he isn’t crazy about having his car in the road. Or about his rageful tenants.

I got the details from his wife, the landlady, when I called upstairs to complain one day. She said “Ugh, don’t even talk to me about it. We’re furious. And then has the nerve to offer Jonah a fishdinner. ‘Come to my restaurant,’ the guy says to Jonah, ‘And I’ll get you a fishdinner.’ And Jonah says, ‘Listen. I don’t need a fishdinner. A fishdinner isn’t going to fix this.” And she continues, “But I’m thinking . . . ‘Well I love fishdinners! I’d like a fishdinner, for sure.'”

I, too, would like a fishdinner. I love them almost as much as I love the word, tossed off in the Bronxian New Yorkese of my landpeople, as one word but with the emphasis on fish. “Fishdinner.” I would like a fishdinner, and I would like the napping to resume, and I would like the mogul to personally do whatever construction I need done for the coming year.

I would also like the mogul to pack for me. But I doubt I’ll even get a fishdinner.

Thanks to nurpax on Flickr for use of the photo, Fish Market.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 13, 2010 9:36 am

    How annoying!

    Be careful of the mogul–Fishdinner is one thing, but I don’t want you guys sleeping with the fishes!

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