Okie From You Know Where

Neighbors. Sometimes you have good ones, like I do now, and sometimes you have bad ones and can’t do anything about it, especially when you are renting and your upstairs neighbor is the landlady’s brother.

I was in my senior year in college, pregnant and married to my first husband. We moved from an attic apartment in a student slum after a rat fell in the beet soup left on the stove. The next morning I discovered red footprints on the kitchen floor. Yuck. So we left.

We moved to a conservative town close to the college, where the local draft board and a chapter of the John Birch Society were once located. But the rent for the one-bedroom apartment on the first floor was cheap. 

The man who lived on the top floor didn’t like us. That was clear the evening we arrived home and he cranked the song “Okie from Muskogee” through their open windows. Full blast. In case you forgot the county standard by Merle Haggard, it begins, “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee; We don’t take no trips on LSD.”

Here was a message. He thought we were hippies. He certainly wasn’t. But the joke was — outside the double negative on the second line — we didn’t smoke marijuana or take LSD. But I bet he didn’t believe it.

One time, the man, I don’t remember his name, came downstairs and knocked on our door. He was drunk. He wanted to know what we did down there. Uh, nothing mysterious.

Another time, he shot his gun out the window.

I don’t know why our neighbor felt so threatened by a couple living  below him he had to be so threatening. But it wasn’t worth finding out. We didn’t stay much longer after that.



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