The three day weekend that just passed was a much needed one. I got to do some Spring cleaning (yes, I am aware that Spring is almost over), spend quality time with my husband and children, and even stop by to see my mother in law. Hot Nana, as she likes to call herself, lives in an apartment building for seniors. When she first moved in, it was pretty nice. The common room had a large television surrounded by sofas and the smell of constantly fresh-brewed coffee filled the air. She has been living there for about three years now, and the nice place that it used to be is only a memory now.
When I pulled into the parking lot yesterday, I shook my head at the sights. A group of younger men (clearly not qualified to be residents of this building) had moved a card table to the back of the building and were playing card games while enjoying what appeared to be hard liquor. Each one donned a do-rag, and I wondered if they were members of some sort of brother organization to the Black Bonnet Society. The entrance, which normally requires a visitor to be buzzed in by a resident, was propped open with a brick. When I entered, the smell of cigarette smoke assaulted my nostrils, and I coughed violently when I inhaled a little too deeply. The television that used to be the focal point of the common room had been stolen, and was replaced by the management office with a tiny black and white television, like the one we used to have in our kitchen 25 years ago. I pursed my lips when I realized my feet were sticking to the grime on the tile floor. Something had been dripped on the floor, leaving a trail all the way down the hall.
Before I reached the hallway to my mother in law’s apartment, I could hear music blaring. I half expected to see a Soul Train line formed as I rounded the corner. The music got louder and louder as I walked toward the apartment. To my dismay, the offenders were the residents of the apartment directly across from Hot Nana’s. And the door was propped open with a chair. Now, I have seen people leave the front doors of their homes open in the summertime to bring in fresh air. I couldn’t understand the reason for having a door propped open in an apartment building, where not only is there NOT any fresh air, but the smell of smoke is overbearing. A mat rested on the floor outside the door, and may as well have read: “Welcome to Our Foolishness”. The inside of the apartment was a hot, cluttered mess and I couldn’t believe someone was content with that being the view that a passerby would see of their home.
Hot Nana opened the door with an exasperated look on her face. The inadvertent block party had been going on since early that morning, and she had to turn the volume up on her television to be able to hear her favorite programs. She voiced her complaint loudly and the neighbor seemed to take heed, lowering the volume slightly. With the volume lowered, an argument between two elderly women outside of the window was now audible. There was a dispute over plots in the community vegetable garden. The women in their wheelchairs looked docile, but were loud enough to disturb the poker game in the lot. For a moment I was afraid that fists would start flying.
As I was leaving, I bid good day to three elderly gentlemen who were gathered around the door. “If I win that Powerball jackpot,” said one, “Imma steal you away from your husband.” He sucked his teeth as he looked me up and down as though I were a steak fresh off of the grill. His comrades grunted in agreement. Obviously, tom foolery has no age limits.