by Richie Narvaez
November 8, 2018
Living in any apartment building is a privilege and can be a joy, but living where I do in the Bronx, it seems there are superior joys. If you lived underneath the Stomperson family, for example, in a porous pre-war in Pelham Bay, you’d love it as much as I do.
You’d love the Stomperson’s insistent dedication to the tradition of the Dutch settlers of Bronx history in their wearing what must be heavy wooden clogs 24/7. “What’s that?” you say, waking up in the middle of the night. “Oh that, that’s history.”
You’d feel sympathy for this charming family who seems to be afflicted with a permanent case of the dropsies. Every object they hold just slips from their hands, banging on their rugless, wooden flooring and reverberating above your head, often late at night and very early in the morning. They seem to have a particular issue with keys, shoes, marbles, lots of marbles, phones, boots, billiard balls, some very heavy bowling balls, rolling luggage, rocks, milk crates, tape measures, sledgehammers, metal venetian binds, and wooden planks.
You’d admire the family’s daily struggle to live in an apartment that, from all aural suggestions, seems be crammed end to end with antique furniture that must be moved out of the way for the poor Stompersons to get anywhere, and the furniture must laden with drawers that have to be pulled out all the way and dropped in order to be used.
You’d love Mr. Stomperson’s vehement dedication to his noble trade of what must be plumbing and how he spends long weekend afternoons organizing and reorganizing what sounds like a warehouse-full supply of heavy metal pipes and fittings, right in the living room above yours. Who needs a Saturday afternoon nap anyway?
You’d appreciate Mrs. Stomperson’s emphatic entrepreneurship when, as late as ten o’clock at night and as early as five in the morning, you can hear her keeping organized and running her paper shredder, its grinding song a sign of her commitment to business and/or to getting rid of evidence.
Most of all, you’d love young Brandon Stomperson’s dedication to fun, especially to the fun that may be had playing shoot-‘em-up video games, which he often plays all night long and into the early morning. Who needs school or employment? Not young Brandon. The game is all that matters! He happens to occupy the room above my home office, so on very, very many morning, as I struggle to start my day, I am greeted by sounds of rapid gunfire accompanied by explicit profanity aimed at the people young Brandon is playing with. It’s better than caffeine to get the day going! He also laughs constantly, a distinct laugh that might be best described as gibbering. It never gets old. No, never. I can hear it now. I think I will hear it forever, echoing in my head, even when I move from this place.
Young Brandon is also lucky to have in his life a delightful girlfriend, who visits him just about every afternoon for a rousing three-minute session of bed-springy romance and then a two-hour impassioned discussion on topics such as “What are we going to do about the baby?” at the very tops of their lungs. What singers they could be!
Perhaps this is the blessing of working from home. I get to enjoy the full experience of their clamorous neighborliness. It is indeed special.
But, as the upcoming #gentrificationbomb looms for the Bronx, hot properties like this one will be hard to come by, and you may inevitably be priced out and be forced to live on the streets or, worse, move to Jersey City. Or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to live under the Stompersons one day. One day soon. And you’ll love it.
Richie Narvaez is the current Bronx Council on the Arts Artist in Residence at the Morris Park Library.
To submit writing for publication on MAGAZINE SUNDAY, click here. Fiction, non-fiction, commentary, news, news analysis, and poetry are welcome. Bronx slant always preferred.