I need a mental health break from writing about the bottomless pit of Trump scandals until next week. Hell, the country needs a mental health break from thinking about them. That’s why I decided to do a bit of storytelling. The world needs more tall tales even if they’re about short people in small houses. No hobbits were harmed in the writing of this post.
The post title is inspired by the comedy album Waiting For The Electrician Or Someone Like Him. It was the debut album by hippie Dadaists, The Firesign Theatre. The album cover is above and if you click on this link, you can hear the whole damn thing. It’s electrifying.
At long last we begin our story:
We had electrical problems a few weeks ago. One of my Spank krewe mates is a crack electrician so he came over to solve the problem, which turned out not to be as bad as feared. While I waited for him, I began a tweet with the line “Waiting for the Spank electrician.” One of my faithful readers and twitter pals, Al Dunn, said it was the line of the day that day. I decided to see if lightning would strike again at First Draft.
While the Spank electrician worked on our circuit breaker box, I regaled him with stories of our former across the street neighbor, the Polish Electrician. I’ll call him PE for short, which works because the Spank electrician goes by TS. I’m also acronym-ing him because the story I’m telling is strictly from memory, so I changed the names to protect the innocent, not me. I am rarely, if ever, innocent.
We moved into our house in the 13th Ward in August of 2000. In that pre-gentrification era, one encountered the neighbors almost immediately. One of the first neighbors we met was PE’s charming wife Miss V (hereinafter MV) followed in short order by her equally charming husband, PE.
The couple lived across the street in the smallest house on the block. It was a perfect fit because they’re both petite people. As Dr. A liked to say it was “a sweet little house just right for sweet little people.”
They’re both immigrants: MV is Mexican and PE is Polish. They mostly spoke to one another so their mutual accent in English was a mélange of Mexican and Polish. It was simultaneously endearing and hilarious. I’m uncertain whether I should call their patois Mexi-Pole or Pole-Mex. Probably the former, the latter sounds too much like poleaxe. Mexi-Pole it is.
PE’s New Orleans origin story is an interesting one. It happened during the Cold War. He was then a sailor, hey. He was in port, jumped ship, and defected. In those days, we encouraged skilled workers to come to America and defect from Communist countries. It was long before Tucker Carlson bragged about rooting for Russia. Nobody rooted for Russia then, especially not Poles. Lech Walesa weeps.
PE moved into one side of a double occupied by Polish sailors. The other side was essentially a crack house. It was converted into a single-family home at the end of the previous century. We live there now, unaccompanied by Polish sailors or crack dealers. As recently as 2010, we received mail for one of the crackheads, usually overdue bills or parking tickets. We tried returning them to sender, but they kept bouncing back to us, so we gave up. It’s what I get for taking advice from an Elvis song.
PE could fix anything. In addition to being a skilled electrician, he was a licensed HVAC tech. It was great having a neighbor who would come over at a moment’s notice to help and at family rates no less. It’s hard not to miss a neighbor like that.
A few years after Katrina and the Federal Flood, PE and MV moved. It was a sad day on our block. I miss chatting with them in their Mexi-Pole accents. It was always an adventure. They left behind a legacy of kindness and neighborliness as well as a good story. It was time to share it with my readers.
I gave myself a pair of earworms as I wrote this so the last word goes to Yes and Bob Weir: