On Thursday night, I managed to fall asleep without struggling against thoughts about the futility of existence, which was an accomplishment akin to climbing K2 or maintaining the gumption to continue to shave my legs semi-regularly during the warmer months. I slipped into dreams of people having bloody noses of which they were unaware. This is the new common thread in my dreams to replace the orphan koala baby, for which I am thankful, because my dream nipples were becoming too long and sore to continue as we were.

So, I was dreaming about this woman and was fascinated by the way the blood pooled along her upper lip rather than run straight down around her mouth. I was really getting into how the light in the room reflected off the outer edge where it bubbled up when I was jolted awake by someone yelling in the street.

Yo, negro! You in the red cap!

I slowly surfaced into consciousness and could hear shouting, banging, and packs of people running back and forth outside our apartment building. It sounded like a mini riot was going on out there. Nothing exciting has happened on our street since the city cleared out the crack house, so all the activity was a bit alarming. I threw on a housecoat and peered through a crack in the drapes.

You should come see this, I said to the Palinode. There are kids all over the street.

What's going on? he asked.

I don't know, but a whole bunch of them just chased another one down, and the white kids keep referring to the black kids as negro. When did that become okay?

A police car coasted down the block, and some of the kids moved closer to the house where the eye of the party was.

Oh good, there's a police car checking it out. I didn't want to have to be the one to call them. I think all those kids are high. When one kid says to another "Hey man, can you help me out?", they're usually asking about drugs, right?

I don't know, the Palinode said.

You really should come take a look, I said. I was now standing in the window with the curtains wide open, watching the street like it was television. I reminded myself of Helen Roper from "Three's Company". I wondered if I had any big, plastic jewellery to put on. They're all wearing those stupid over-sized clothes with the pants that drag in the mud. And they're ugly, too. Are teenagers usually ugly? Probably. Those sideways hats look stupid, too.

Why don't you go back to bed, hon?

Oh, no. This is way too interesting. Why didn't the cops break it up? We have fifty teenagers running all over the street at night, and the cops do nothing. If this were suburbia, all those kids would be going home to their parents.


What kind of parents do they have, anyway? When I was a teenager, mine wouldn't let me stay out this late at a party in this part of town.


I bet you they're all thugs. They're a gang. They're going to break into this building and steal people's stuff.


When did this happen? When did I become that person who stands in the window wearing a ratty, old housecoat, complaining about the neighbourhood and what the kids are up to these days? I wish there were an exact moment, an event, something tangible I could point at or stick under glass with pins like a lepidopterist's butterfly.

Does anybody have a miniature garishly make-upped, smoking busybody in a housecoat that I can pin to some matting? I'm not sure why this character smokes, but she does. I would name her the Fumidus Rumor Helenum. She would make squawking noises from inside the display about how things just aren't like they used to be when she was young. Her mother was beautiful and they always dressed well and children respected their elders and almost no one was fat because they weren't lazy.

I should find some red press-on nails and a muumuu, perm my hair, and convince the Palinode that it's okay to smoke in the apartment. Then I could crab about kids in the neighbourhood in style.