Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Home is Where the Heart Is

Bizarro is brought to you today by The Secret To Life.

It was 1981 and I had just called the bass player in our band to find out where he lived. I needed to deliver something to him like a piece of electronics, or a packet of illegal substance, or a book I'd borrowed, or a blimp mooring tower, I can't remember now. He lived in a huge old house that had been turned into a multi-family dwelling. He told me the address, and said to go up to the porch, through the second door from the right, up the stairs, and to knock on the second door on the left.

Being a bass player, he lived in a fairly rough neighborhood and though I was a little on guard, I did not want to show any apprehension. So following his instructions carefully I found the house, walked up to the porch with confidence, burst through the second door from the right and walked in briskly expecting to find stairs up which I would clamor.

What I found instead was a large Mexican family of around a dozen people, watching television in their living room. I froze in my tracks, they snapped their heads toward me and froze, and we all looked at each other with equal surprise for several seconds, searing an image in my brain that has not faded a single pixel even to this day. Portrait of the Ortega Family at Home, 1981, oil on canvas, 40'x60'.

Lurching back to consciousness, I backed out, mumbling something like "sorry, wrong door, sorry, sorry," and scrambled back off the porch.

Looking back at the house, I was a bit afraid to choose another door, there were four along the length of the porch. Who knows what might be behind door number two – a tiger? an illegal dogfighting ring? Richard Simmons slapping a bellhop around?

I crept back up to the house, knocked on another door and listened, heard nothing and gingerly tried the knob. It opened, and there was a stairway inside. I found my friend's apartment and told him what had happened with the family downstairs. He smirked and said, "you're lucky they didn't kill you. I think they're drug dealers."

Thus ended my exceptionally brief career as an unwitting DEA agent. I'm glad I wasn't killed in the line of a duty I had no idea I was performing. I don't think you get a pension for that.


Shoshanah Marohn said...

Love the story! I had a similar experience when I was 12, only it was a very muscular black man reclining on a lay-z-boy. I ran away before he said anything.

Karl said...

My story is similar, just slightly different. I had the same thing happen to me, except in reverse. Yep instead of me entering the wrong door, it was I who was entered upon. And instead of a entering by the door, the intruder came in through a hole in the wall. And instead of a person it was a mouse. What nerve!

PolishBear said...

Speaking of illegal substances, I DID enjoy today's comic, "Still Life with Mushrooms" ... especially that little TWINKLE in the artist's eye. But I can already hear the howls of protest over how you're making light of the recreational use of hallucinogenic fungi.

RSJ said...

Continuing to waste a portion of my life on playing music ;), I've encountered the Bass Player in Bad Neighborhood Dilemma, as well as the Drummer Without Transportation Gambit.

In the former case, the Bass Player neglected to tell me he had had a very acrimonious break-up with his wife, and when I stopped by to pick him up for a gig, she threw things at me out the window, her relatives yelled obscene threats, and she called the police on me.

In the latter case, the Drummer forgot to mention he had no transportation until a half-hour before show time. Of course, he lived 45 minutes away, which means we started more than an hour-and-a-half late.

There are 8 million similar stories in the Naked City, but bass and percussion seem to attract, like a black topcoat, most of the flakes.

(No offense to those good professional bassists and drummers, of course.)

Penny Mitchell said...

That picture from 1981 is going to give me nightmares.