14 June 2017

When I didn’t have a dog - Woodrow Ave.


The rent at Woodrow was $100/month. We didn’t really realize this was a good deal to live four houses away from the sea. The house leaked big time in the winter as the walls were made from paper thin boards, propped lightly on a cement slab. I acquired a fear of hot tubs there, not just because it meant there were always naked strangers lurking around in the back yard, but because it also functioned as a flame thrower when you turned it on. There was a hose and the neighbor’s fence survived every small fire started when it fired up.

Our house was known for being Notorious. I didn’t know this at the time. It was just my house. Or actually Missy’s house. She was pretty bossy. She didn’t like the kind of bread I bought. But later on, when I told people I used to live at Woodrow, they would nod and go, oh yeah, that house was Notorious. We had a lot of parties. That was when Woodrow was a double wide street, a popular spot for night time drag racing.

You have to really think back, to how it used to look. There’s a double tall, uber modern beach house there now with expensive looking finishes. Same thing with the house next door, and the next. I always see a shiny new Audi parked in the driveway, and they fixed the retaining wall so the yard no longer tumbles down to the street.

The Cheese Man lived out back in the garage. Maybe you remember him, he used to sell cheese twice a week in the afternoons. His business plan was this. Drive around San Jose and buy massive blocks of expired, moldy cheeses from major supermarket chains before they were thrown out. That’s where he said he got them, anyways. These were wheels of cheese as big as tires. He brought them home, and sliced them up in the yard, and sold cheese by the pound in somebody else’s yard to anyone who wanted cheap cheese. He sold pot, too, stored in white five gallon buckets in his garage lair.

Once I was a movie extra with him. Our job was to sit in his car by the boardwalk during a night shoot for the Lost Boys. The car smelled like cheese.

A lot of people lived at Woodrow. And a lot of people hung out there, always. I guess they didn’t have anywhere else they needed to be. You could walk in our living room at any time of day and people lounged on the couch, bongs parked by the wall, watching the tiny black and white tv that always played Bruce Lee movies. I know some of those people are dead now.

For a while the naked hippies lived there, in the room at the back. They didn’t believe in refrigerators, so they stored their food in boxes in the hall way. They worked at a farm and brought home crates of green things that would eventually go rotten, in the hall with the cheese. One overcast day I came home from work and the house was full of them, naked and sandy from the beach, having a dance party, blasting Talking Heads and filling the house with their wet, naked sand. This wasn’t a last straw to living there, it was just how it was, living at Woodrow. I would go in my room and hang out with my cat.

One of the naked hippies still lives around the corner from me. I see him in the mornings, riding his bike in his wetsuit with his surfboard under his arm, slowly peddling down to Cowells, early enough to beat the rush. He looks pretty old. He quit farming and works doing something in insurance.

That’s when I got my cat, at Woodrow. Acquired slightly underhandedly from a friend who lived in his car. I took care of her for a while, then said he couldn’t have her back, once he lived in the living room of someone else’s house in the neighborhood. She was a good cat, brought me lizards through the window and dropped them on my bed.

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