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I mean, yeah, sure, I’ve met my new neighbors. We’re essentially best friends. Okay, I mean, at the very least, we’re acquaintances. Like, uh, I forget his name. But he seemed cool. And I think he’s dating that one girl? They have a dog together. At least I think they have a dog together. Maybe there are just two Golden Doodles on our floor. Okay, honestly, I’m not sure.
I guess I “know” my neighbors if you define “know” as “put my head down and pretend to be on my phone when I pass them in the hallway.” I once read a New Yorker column about how living in an apartment complex is the most lonely habitat in the world. Yes, you’re surrounded by people in little boxes at all times, but you rarely branch out of your little box and see what’s going on around you.
The only way I can tell what my neighbors are like besides the times when we avoid eye contact in the elevator? Well, their wifi network names.
Andrew has double monitors set up at his home office desk. He has a special gaming mouse with the same color scheme as his custom gaming chair. His desktop computer has a clear outer shell that he custom ordered and assembled himself. He “works from home,” but in reality, he runs a freelance pyramid scheme involving Pakistani graphic designers where he charges double what he pays them and outsources their work to local agencies. He hasn’t been outside in three days and gets two-thirds of his meals from Uber Eats.
On the surface, Alex is just your typical boy next door turned “project manager” at a generic marketing firm. He has white teeth, still shops at Hollister, and has a bible verse as his Instagram bio. He apologizes after sending risky texts when he’s had one too many White Claws. The most eccentric thing he cooks for himself is plain white boneless chicken breasts marinated in Frank’s Red Hot. He ran cross country in high school, but now lifts weights three days a week and uses the in-gym tanning bed behind his friends’ back.
Frank got divorced in late 2016. Since then, he’s had a series of coming-of-age moments that have led him to feel younger at 63 than he did when he got married. He paints now. He no longer colors his hair to cover his grey. In fact, he’s been growing his hair out. But despite his newfound youth, Frank still struggles with electronics and becomes increasingly suspicious of “The Man.” Frank wants to change his network’s name, but Frank doesn’t know how to. He’s called the front desk numerous times about it, but they keep ensuring him that they don’t handle such matters.
Tyler still has his DVD collection from college that he puts on full display for his visitors to see. His favorite movies are Requiem for a Dream and Pi, but his favorite director is Quentin Tarantino despite the recent controversies that surround him. “He’s not racist or sexist,” he assures his friends, “he’s just misunderstood.” Tyler wears a skull ring on his left pinky finger that his best girl friend, Sophie, has told him is “cute.” He’s actually in love with Sophie but is too afraid to make a move on her because he doesn’t want to ruin their friendship.
And because she’s been dating this douchebag Patrick for, like, three fucking years now.
ElJefe’s Wifi Network
Jamie “The Boss” Carlson started his own car speaker business in 2012. They’re the loudest speakers you’re legally allowed to have in your car, he claims. No rattling either. Not only did he recently get into incense, but he also started taking up cooking — a hobby he thought would be a good reprieve to spending such long days in the garage. Deep down, he likes early 90s jazz music even though all his employees force him to listen to Staind all day. Yeah, he’s “The Boss,” but deep down he just wants to coexist.
“No,” they keep telling management, “we have no idea why it smells like marijuana throughout the corridor.” The kicker? They do know, because Arlo and Meadow smoke a lot of weed. They’ll never tell you where they get it though, because they don’t want their source to run dry. It’s “dank stuff,” per Arlo.
Unfortunately, their network name is actually a misnomer now. Sure, Meadow still has long hair, but Arlo had to cut his dreadlocks after he blew through his trust fund and had to start picking up odd jobs on Craigslist. He was already kind of considering cutting them because he was worried people were thinking he was appropriating rasta culture as a white man, but “they just don’t get it,” he’d explain to Meadow endlessly while Toots and the Maytals play on their Sonos speakers at 11:45 p.m.
She reads Things Girls Do After Graduation but doesn’t understand why everyone thinks Girl is such a bad person. She also thinks Todd needs to stop complaining so much. Ever since her boyfriend, Brett, moved in, things have been tense. Frankly, it’s annoying to Louise that Brett keeps leaving his dirty dishes in the sink when the dishwasher is RIGHT FUCKING THERE but the closer she gets to 30, the less time she thinks she has to find someone else she wants to marry. Brett won’t stop complaining that the apartment complex’s gym doesn’t have enough free weights.
Nate, also known as “Nutter” to his “boys,” has received two noise violations since moving in but still doesn’t understand why. Like, what was he supposed to do, just not have an after-party after the Odesza concert? Come on, bro, it’s Odesza. He has empty fifths of Belvedere vodka and Jack Daniels lined up above his kitchen cupboards, and the American flag he has hanging over his bed half-fell down last week. He’s been meaning to go to Home Depot for more nails but has just been too hungover lately. Bianca still hasn’t texted him back after he showed up blackout to their Bumble date, but he still thinks she’s a “cool chick.”
His name is Clay. He sells weed to Arlo and Meadow. He gets it mailed directly to the apartment. It’s vacuum-sealed and comes straight from Humboldt County where his half-brother lives as a grower. It’s a good income to supplement his coding job, but he really only does it because he likes interacting with Arlo and Meadow. Since moving here two years ago, he’s struggled to make friends. Arlo and Meadow don’t realize it, but they’re all he has. He wants to invite them over for dinner. Maybe next week. .