As I was moving boxes and furniture into my apartment a year ago, I noticed my landlady outside talking to a neighbor so I paused to say hello. He was wearing tan Carhartt pants and black sport sandals and had his saxophone case leaning against his leg. The conversation went something like this:
Landlady: Oh, hello! This is Nathan*. Nathan, this is my new tenant.
Me: Oh hi Nathan, so nice to meet you! I’m such a mess now with the moving, sorry, which side do you live on?
Nathan: [points to his house] Right there. Nice to meet you too.
Me: Oh! Great. [pause to wipe the dusty-sweaty mixture off my hands and scratch my eyebrow] So yeah! Wow, do you play the saxophone? That’s a saxophone, right… haha.
Nathan: Yes. Well welcome to the neighborhood! What do you do?
Me: I, um, I work in public relations actually, I-
Nathan: Can I ask you how old you are? Do you babysit?
Me: Um… I-
Nathan: Because you look about babysitting age- would you want to babysit for us?
Me: Oh! Well… oh! So you have kids?
Nathan: Fantastic, here, let me take your number and my wife will call you.
So, I do like working with kids, but I really don’t like babysitting. At all. I felt pretty awkward though, so when Nathan’s wife Shazzer* eventually called and invited me over to meet the kids, I figured it would at least be a good way to meet the neighbors. Right? What harm could there be in that!
Shaz and Nathan answered the door with matching crazy hair and equally-sporty sport sandals and cargo shorts. They smiled and welcomed me in, but upstairs I heard a small boy seemingly just running back and forth screaming, and as we walked into the livingroom, I felt the cold cold stink-eye from a girl in the kitchen who was using all of her 45 inches to wish me a violent death.
As Nathan sat by with laryngitis whispering threatening-sounding questions, Shaz asked about my experience working with kids and what days I was free, so I nervously emphasized what a very very busy life I lead and said that perhaps on some Sundays or on a very rare Wednesday I might be able to help out.
Needless to say, I didn’t handle the situation well, and months of dodging daily babysitting requests and making up excuses as to why I was busy left my relationship with the neighbors a little rocky. But- whatever! I’m not 16, I don’t know why they would expect an adult with a full-time job and a life of her own to be able to babysit. One of the reasons I don’t have kids is because I don’t want to babysit anything after a day of work. I know how that sounds, so relax.
Shaz and Nathan finally stopped calling and started just staring me down in the street. Fair enough.
This morning I ran into Shaz as I was carrying coffee back to my apartment.
Me: Oh hey! How are things, how’s the family?
Shaz: Great, great. Are you sick?
Me: No, no. I’m fine.
Shaz: Oh. So what are you doing home then? Did you… do you have work?
Me: Oh- no, I’m, actually I’m moving. To Seattle actually.
Shaz: Oh! [pause, smile] Why?
Me: I just, I have friends out there, so I thought I’d try it.
Shaz: So… Oh, wow. Well. That’s interesting. [stands at the foot of my stoop staring at me]
Me: Yep, I’m pretty excited, it’s beautiful out there. [Ed. note: I’ve never been.]
Shaz: Sure, sure. So why are you leaving again?
Me: I mean.. I’m just, you know, giving it a shot, so. It’s exciting though, huh?! Who knows how long I can stay away from New York, though, right?? HAHAHA. We’ll see. Have a great day!
So I’m pretty sure Shazzer thinks I lost my job, ran out of money and/or got dumped or something. Awesome! At least she’ll stop asking me to babysit if she thinks I’m mentally unstable or likely to steal her jewelry or hock her kids for meth money. Oh neighbors. If only I could’ve traded Nate and Shaz for songbirds Ralph Nader and Babs Walters: