I live in an old, but charming, building in a gentrified, but hip, neighborhood, and I’m the recipient of a lot of perks. For instance, I get: cockroaches in my Lucky Charms, proximity to Reggaeton-blasting neighbors, and a lovely view of Silverlake—my personal Gatsbyesque light in the distance to aspire to while I’m eating my infested noodles ramen. But the real perk of living in this renovated barrio is the building manager, let’s call him Mr. Barnes. Mr. Barnes is a funny man and full of lots of great stories of yore. And I think he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. The thing about Mr. Barnes is that he’s a Vietnam vet. He doesn’t like liberals, he doesn’t like pussies who support “gun control”, and he owns a lot of guns. I own a mag light and a fairly realistic replica of Gandalf’s sword from The Lord of the Rings. If it came down to it I think his Kalashnikov would outgun Glamdring, even if I did cast magic missile on his ass. On a recent visit to my apartment (I think he just figured it was time for a chat) Mr. Barnes and I talked about government lies, the necessity of nuking the shit out of Iraq, and the liklihood that a pill will soon exist that will make vampires a reality.

Somewhere in the middle of this conversation I’m pretty sure he had a waking hallucination of 1971, and it occurred to me that the man most ready to start a militia in my building was also the only guy with a spare key to my apartment. And then it hit me like a Vietcong RPG: what happens when I throw my end of April potluck? Do I invite this guy and hope he leaves his I-remember-when-I-had-to-impale-a-child story at home? Or snub him and spend my nights trembling in a cold sweat, praying I never need a consult on a shit-clogged toilet? There is a place where survival and social etiquette meet. That place is my home. I have Mr. Barnes to thank.

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