On Martin Luther King Day My Neighbor Called Me A C**t

I had never been called the “C” word before, which in itself is kind of odd. I take no umbrage with the word, in fact I see it as almost a compliment, and certainly refer to myself that way between Days 23 and 28. So much preferable to “bitch,” which is too tepid for the amount of evil a woman can personify if she puts her mind to it… Nevertheless on this alleged Day Of Peace, I must admit it was a little jarring to hear it yelled out at me by a stranger…

The complex we are currently living in, which still technically Malibu, is full of batshits and burnouts in almost equal measure. The surfers are a little too angry (why would you be angry when all you had to do was surf and smoke weed?), there are angry retirees (ditto but with Chardonnay and golf) and one really nice lady who used to be on a soap opera. Every week the cops are here because someone else has gone off their rocker about something stupid, and considering the fact that last week a Malibu neighbor shot another, all of these angry people do not fill me with peace.

I have heard one particular across-the-way neighbor yelling obscenities at his dog since we moved in, so I made a mental note to avoid his apartment.  Then yesterday when my errant dogs escaped, they went right for some unsuspecting lady with a rolling suitcase (as if barking might make her relinquish her weapon on wheels) I went out to herd them back in. As I was walking back I muttered “Silly Dogs” then, seeing a woman standing on the balcony of Yelly Neighbor’s apartment, I waved at her, said “Sorry” and went back inside.

I left the house half an hour later, and as soon as I went to get into my car, I see Yelly Guy tearing out to his balcony with the woman following him yelling, “What did you say to my girlfriend, you fucking cunt?”


“I will fucking come down there…” he yells, while I try to make them understand that I hadn’t even been talking to her except to say sorry. Did she think I had called her a Silly Dog? Surely I would have used “bitch” in that scenario…

“It was a misunderstanding,” said the woman,  going for damage control (clearly not for the first time) for her demented ragey boyfriend, and herded him back inside, much as I had to my dogs earlier.

While I knew it wasn’t personal, I sat in my car and cried for about thirty-five minutes after that, because:

a. I have a mood disorder.

b. Sometimes when a stranger screams at you, it’s the perfect opportunity to have a good cry about other things.

c. Car weeping is my jam. 

Mostly I was grateful my kids had neither heard nor seen any of it, it being Martin Luther King Day and all. 

I will never forget the first time I told my then three-year old about “Martin Loofah King,” as he called him. I told him all about this great guy who was all about peace and he had a dream that all people would be treated equally, and about Rosa Parks and the back of the bus and the whole thing.

“Wow,” said David, eyes shining, “When are we going to meet Martin Loofah?”

Uh oh. “No sweetheart, we can’t meet him he’s not…”

Before I had had a chance to say “alive,” David’s little face was all crumpled up in tears, “I want to meet Martin Loofah…” and it took me ten minutes to calm him down (which is better than thirty-five.)

I don’t remember what kind of explanation I had cobbled together about death, but somehow eventually he understood that on that day we commemorated the man, not actually got to meet him. I believe I then successfully distracted him (“Look, a seagull…”) before having to explain the concept of assassination, slavery, and how they relate to the current state of African Americans in the United States to a three-year-old.

I wish I could have met Martin Loofah too. And I pray that this guy’s rage, and my rage and the rage of the planet be healed today… like maybe a giant loofah would rise up from space and just slough all the anger and pain off the surface of the earth. Maybe I could have sold that shit to a three-year old, but somehow I doubt it…
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  1. I’m going to have to rate your neighbors’ reaction to the dogs a 10/10 on the scale of crazy. I especially like how classy the guy was not only calling you a c***, but also saying it loudly in front of his girlfriend. Trashy, trashy. Dry your eyes and raise a glass to his future misery and irrationality — sounds like he’s in for a lifetime full.

  2. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and I absolutely love your writing and excellent story-telling. I am so sorry you had to endure this from your neighbor. As a New Yorker, I think of Malibu, CA as this perfect and idyllic place where there is only happiness and sunshine.

  3. Erica thank you so much for reading and writing! I love New York and miss it almost daily. I think of it as a freezing cold, violent place that more matches my inner state.

    • Yes, New York is absolutely frigid right now. Right now I am having daydreams about those lovely SoCal sunny and warm days. I think the violence has tamed down. I can’t believe how many women I meet in their 20’s who are from LA looking for love and success in NYC and doing quite well finding it.

      • We always want what we haven’t got, I’m always nostalgic for the other place until I get there. As for LA women coming and taking all your neurotic men, I don’t know how I feel about that…

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