@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Make A Noise
In the six and a half years I’ve been an Astoria resident, I’ve had little to no interactions with my neighbors. It is a rule of mine that you want your neighbors to think you’re just weird enough that they don’t want to befriend you, but not too weird that they are suspicious of you. I am a master at this (in actuality, it’s the fact that I am not intimidating looking that people shrug their shoulders at whatever weird shit I may be up to).
The guy next door is a doctor. I only know this because he has one of those “MD” license plates. For years, we’ve nodded and waved. It wasn’t until this year we actually spoke to each other, a symptom of the pandemic, since we were unable to leave. In my mind, his name is Larry or Harry but I honestly haven’t the faintest idea. He sometimes sits at his patio table, smoking a cigar and we smile to each other. I don’t know what type of doctor he is, but I figure it’s good luck to have any doctor living next door. You never know when there will be an emergency, and I’ll have to run over in the middle of the night, banging on his door, covered in blood.
A few doors down is John. I also don’t know if his name is John. Years ago we did introduce each other but I’m pretty sure he’s only “John” to me because my dad is John and he reminds me of my Dad. He looks nothing like John Palminteri. My dad, 100% Sicilian, is exactly my height (5 feet and six and half inches), much to his chagrin. Neighbor John, while probably the same age as my Dad, is tall and lanky—not Italian from what I can tell. He kind of looks like an older Ichabod Crane. He reminds me of my Dad because of his OCD about moving around his car (usually street parked) and his wife’s (usually in the driveway). He is anal as hell about parking and almost impossibly so, I’ve never seen a leaf on his driveway.
My Dad, known to be anal, became annoying when my siblings and I all had cars and lived at home. We’d have five cars total, rotating them in the driveway to make them all fit without blocking whomever had to leave the house next. I’d have been fine to leave my car in the street, but my Dad hated cars in the street. We were often being instructed to move our cars or leave behind a spare key so my dad could move them around the driveway based on his liking. It was kind of insane.
But neighbor John shares another quality with my Dad. He’s always friendly, but I’ve never seen him hang out with any neighbors or express interest. However, he’s a clear handy man, and if anyone is struggling with a project or needed help getting their car out in snow, he’s out there, offering a hand. There’s a goodness to him. An OCD goodness.
An older woman down the block once flagged me over as I was getting into my car. She had messy hair and shirt with a cat on it. She told me she has four cats (not surprising) and they like to crawl under cars at night because of the heat from the engines. She was worried her cats would get run over in the morning. So she asked me that every time I get in my car I make a loud noise to scare them. Oh, you mean like the sound of a car starting? I think I just blank stared her (classic Lori Palminteri). I’d be furious if my neighbors started shrieking before they started their cars. My neighborhood is surprisingly quiet, something I pride myself of maintaining.
I told her where I lived and she said she used to live in the apartment next to mine (the big one). Then, I started saying how sweet my elderly landlord was. She made a face. Apparently, she had a very different experience. “You must be really neat and quiet.” Indeed. “I’m not neat or quiet.”
The woman who lives in the big apartment next to me since I’ve been there is very sweet and we’ve also hardly spoken to each other in six years. We both mind our own lives. Except recently I had the most bizarre encounter with her…
I was streaming one of the NHL Stanley Cup games. Between periods, I decided to go to the Bodega to get some ice cream (classic Lori Palminteri). I bought both a caramel Magnum Bar and a Chipwich. On my return, she was on the stoop, sobbing, the contents of her purse spilled down the stairs.
Approaching slowly, I asked if she was okay. She sobbed, “no!” She was clearly drunk. I went to gather her things on the step, but then she accused me of trying to rob her and started hitting me. It didn’t hurt, as she was too drunk to land any real blows. I realized then, I was wearing both a baseball cap and a hood. Quickly, I threw off my hat and hood. “Whoa, hey, it’s me. Lori! It’s me.”
Her tear filled eyes were now embarrassed. I helped her inside and she cried that she lost her keys, but we found them at the bottom of her bag. In the morning I texted her if she was okay. She apologized up and down. Seriously, I told her, don’t worry about it. If she only knew… I’ve had more than my share of incoherent nights and I cry more days than not in 2020. No sweat. For real. Any time, I told her, if she’s locked out or needs help, ring my bell, knock on my door, make a noise.
Even though I’ve been here for years, and my parents sold our childhood home some four years ago, my over active imagination grants me dreams every night, and I still sometimes think I’m waking up in that house.
Back when we were kids, Mitch, my little brother, was plagued with night terrors. I too had sleep paralysis episodes, but not like him. Lisa, my older sister and I, shared a bedroom. Maybe sharing a room made the dark less frightful at night. Mitch had his own room, being the boy. It wasn’t uncommon to hear him yell out in the night, followed by the sound of him racing up the stairs to my parents room where he would jump into their bed, heart racing, into the comforting arms of our Mom. Yes, despite being the fearless alpha-male he is today, Mitch was easy to fright back then and quite a Mommy’s boy.
Usually, he went upstairs to our parents room. Though sometimes he’d spring up from bed, dash across the hall and jump in my bed. It was only startling because he moved so quickly. It was like one movement. I didn’t usually mind. We were both very tiny, and I too feared nightmares.
Nowadays, whenever I go to my sisters my nephew always asks (if not begs) me to sleep over. When I do, usually we both sleep on the couch in the living room. He does not like being alone in the dark. Last time, he fell asleep before me while we were watching “Lilo & Stitch.” I then switched the TV to “The Simpsons,” which he sometimes watches with me but he’s too small to understand the comedic genius of that show. In his slumber, he made some cute little cooing sound that sounded like what was happening in the movie behind his eyes was worrisome to him. I placed my hand on his chest and this seemed to ease him back into a more peaceful state. Eventually, I’d fall asleep and when I woke up I noticed he inched toward me in the night.
It made me wonder. Nights don’t go without dreams for me. Not in a long time. Sometimes they are beautiful, like being in the ocean with dolphins. There are stupid stressful dreams like being back in school (seriously, when do these dreams stop). There are heart breaking stressful dreams where someone I love is hurt or I must reach them but I can’t. There are sex dreams (for fans of “The Boys” I’ve been having sex dreams of Billy Butcher (whom I may be in love with), Maeve, and Homelander, which is a little concerning given how evil he is). There are funny dreams, filled with friends and familiar faces, featuring some sort of adventure. Then there are the night terrors. The ones that make me sweat through my sheets. That literally shake me.
It makes me wonder. Do I make a little noise in my sleep. Do I whimper? Do I whimper? And if I do, would the hand of someone who cares, gently placed on my back remind me that I was okay? That I was safe?
Is it that easy? To ask for help. Just to make a noise.