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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

At Home with the Bilgeburps

My wife and I have been in our new(-ish) condo now for over a year and a half. I’ve enjoyed many things about settling in here and putting a few pages on the calendar between us and our moving odyssey. But one of my very favorite things about being here for a while is this: No one asks us about the previous owners any more.

“They seemed nice enough. Left the place pretty clean. Didn’t leave us any top-shelfers to deal with when we arrived.”

Not that I have anything against the last people living here, mind you. It’s not like we had the opportunity to get to know them well to form a strong opinion. Outside the actual buying transaction, a quick walkthrough of the place, and a short negotiation to ask them to take care of the whips-and-chain wiring our inspector found, we didn’t have much interaction with them at all. They seemed nice enough. Left the place pretty clean. Didn’t leave us any top-shelfers to deal with when we arrived. I’ve got no beef with them.

I just can’t remember their name, is all.

So when people would ask me about them, or have mail for them, or want to chat about where they moved to, how they’re doing these days or whether we ever have them back for tea and biscuits and cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off, I’d never quite get the surname right. Close, perhaps — but never right on the money.

Actually, it was quite a bit like that pesky Bert and Ernie wiring… er, Thelma and Louise… no, wait — pork chop and applesauce wiring? Hold on.

KNOB AND TUBE. Had to look it up. Again. Knob and tube wiring. Right. These people’s last name was a lot like trying to remember that… uh… wiring. With the two things. Click and clack? Jack and Jill? Check and mate? Whatever. It was like that.

Only I couldn’t just pay a guy to rip them out of the wall and be done with it. I had to try to remember their name for months after they were gone. And I’m about thirty percent not-smart-enough to manage such a thing, apparently. I could hold on to pieces of the puzzle — I knew their name was a compound-sounding word, made up of two one-syllable words, and that both syllables started with a ‘B’. Which seems like kind of a lot of information. If this were a game of charades, you’d probably totally get the answer with that kind of clue.

But not me. I (one syllable, rhymes with ‘tuck’) at charades. And that’s probably why I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember this poor family’s name. And why I wound up having too many conversations like this:

Neighbor: Hi there! How’s the new place looking?

Me: Oh, good, thanks. We’re still unpacking. It’s kind of a process.

Neighbor: Well, sure. Hey, have you heard from Jan and Robert lately, since they moved out?

Me: The Birdbeaks? No, they haven’t touched base in a while.

Neighbor: The… wait, what did you call them?

Me: The Birchbarks. Oh… crap. Am I doing it again?

Neighbor: Doing ‘it’? You mean, disrespecting our old friends from your unit?

Me: No, wait. I don’t mean any disrespect. We got along just fine with the Bongbakes.

Neighbor: I say!

Me: No! Sorry. I meant the Bedboinks.

Neighbor: Well!

Me: Oh, crap on a stick. The Beefbutts? The Brokebacks? The Borschtbarfs? Am I getting warmer?

Neighbor: I never! And I’ll be sure to tell them of your insolence the next time I speak to them!

Me: Speak to whom?

Neighbor: Why, the Bagbangs, of course. Er… I mean… oh, dear.

Me: Nice talk. How about we keep this just between us?

Neighbor: You got it. And let’s never speak of that Buffball clan again.

Me: Agreed.

Luckily, the questions petered out after a few months. Either people forgot about their old neighbors — or we’d had the conversation above enough to embarrass us all too much to bring them up. Either way, we’ve finally hit a sweet spot, where all the awkward conversations are but a distant memory.

Well, most of them, anyway. Occasionally, we’ll still get a UPS driver ringing the bell and asking if a ‘Mrs. Boybend’ is available, or if we’ll sign for a package addressed to ‘The Blitzboobs’.

(We never do, of course. Not that we’re above yoinking someone else’s parcels. But with those misreadings, I’m always afraid a Penthouse Letters scenario would break out if I said yes.

And the delivery guy is decidedly not my type. I don’t care how much you airbrush him. Not interested.)

But overall, the disturbingly embarrassing exchanges involving the former inhabitants — whatever their name was — have slowed to a trickle. And for that, I’m very grateful. I think we’re all better off letting bygones be bygones. And Bungblows be Bungblows.

Jesus. At this point, if I ever run into those people again, I’m just going to run. Or totally ‘ignore’ them as they walk past. I’d rather be patently rude than stick both feet and a forearm into my mouth trying to remember their name. They probably get that all the time.

Or not. What do I care? It’s our condo now. Woot!

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