This article first appeared in this month’s issue of the Humor Mill.
I was sitting on my front porch today. I’d been out there all day, working and writing; enjoying the sunshine while I pecked away at my lap top with furrowed brow. Sipping coffee. Eating the last of the granola bars. Living the LA life. Which is really a life full of questions and anxiety offset by swaying palm trees and 80-degree weather. The afternoon sun was starting to wave goodbye to me and hello to the sunset that was fast approaching. I kept working.
My two-level apartment complex in the valley is nothing like Melrose Place. There is no pool, there is no scandal, there is no sex; except a few years ago, Apt 8 was running a porn filming business out of their place. No lie. True story. I was not asked to star, produce or write for any of their videos, so that is a good thing, and you can be less worried about that! One night the cops came to get the girl and the guy living there; the 5.0 woke me up at the ass crack of 2:00 am pounding on her door and yelling, “OPEN UP! NOW!!” I peeked at them through the blinds of my bedroom window as they barged into the apartment with guns drawn. There was a lot of screaming and yelling and I thought for sure someone was going to be killed and I was going to see it. Luckily, that did not happen. Apparently, the guy, the boyfriend and quite possibly the videographer (dunno) got away. Perhaps he’d been tipped off. They took the girl away. She was very thin, brown; pretty, once. She was on drugs. Big time. To this day, I think about her and wonder if she enjoyed being a porn…“star”. And how she got caught up in the LA life.
The neighbor three doors down from where the porn people lived is a lovely woman with brown hair and an accent. I forget where she is from, but one night, while I sat on my porch, she peeked her head in the door way of my fenced-in porch on her way to the YMCA for her swim class. We chatted. We discovered we both spoke French. We chatted in French until I sorta gave up, because I speak better French after a few glasses of wine and I’d had none that night. She is retired and rescues dogs now. At least, that’s what I understood in French.
While sitting on my porch today, I heard her T.V. Her apartment is directly across the way from mine. We face each other. A small sidewalk passage way that leads to the back parking lot separates her row of townhouses from my row of townhouses. The North Side and The South Side, if you will. I’m North, she’s South. We have no territorial wars here.
She was watching a comedy. The sound of the laugh track wafted through her windows, across the path and into the echoey surround sound chamber that accompanies apartment living. I imagined her sitting in a hard chair (not really a recliner), eating cherries or something. The laugh track sounded genuine like on Carol Burnett or Sanford and Son. Not campy, like on Mike and Molly or King of Queens or Broke Girls.
As I sat on my porch in a wrought-iron chair underneath a yellow umbrella with the California breeze swirling about me, I stopped typing and thought, “”Is this what it’s all about?” Is this moment, this life I’m living, that we’re all living…is this life moment about the simplicity of a laugh track floating through a window? She is simply living over there. Her son comes from somewhere International to visit some times. She walks the rescue dog some times. Her daughter comes and goes. She goes to the Y. That is her life and somehow, by being her neighbor, her life is connected to my life. I’m simply living over here. Sitting at the porch table. Writing some times. Petting my cat some times. Drinking coffee under the sun. Wondering what’s next. Wondering if I am where I’m supposed to be. Wondering about career and money and the this and the that of everything. And in that simple, moment, surrounded by a lingering laugh track, I thought, “That’s funny.”
Because this is all there is. This is what it’s about. Simplicity. And I think somehow, God was sending a message to just lighten the heck up.
Peppur (www.peppurchambers.com) is an actor, writer and creator/ performer of Harlem’s Night Cabaret performed by the sultry, sassy, sophisticated and sometimes funny, Brown Betties. Her debut novel, “Harlem’s Awakening” is now available on BlackHillPress.com. She’s also created the award-winning webseries, “The Brown Betties Guide: How to Look for Love In All The Wrong Places” based on her book of the same title. www.brownbetties.com Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @BrownBettie. But really, go buy Harlem’s Awakening!