It didn’t occur to me until after I had written this blog post that it would make its debut on April first. I promise you, this is not an April Fool’s Day joke. Everything I’m about to tell you, really happened. It’s all true.
My neighborhood is kind of crappy. I live in a supposedly small, upscale beach town; it does have teeny, expensive boutiques and snooty restaurants, but even before the pandemic, my particular part of this beach town was kind of run down and sketchy. To be fair, I do live about six blocks from the ocean, but my street is a busy one. I’ve gotten used to the sound of buses and trucks rumbling underneath my window at all hours of the day and night. Sirens. Circling helicopters. Car alarms. Horns blaring on the commuter trains as they pull in or out of the station. Some guy drives around the neighborhood in a car with one of those exhaust systems that sound like a Tyrannosaurus rex passing gas. BRRRAAAAAAAAPPPPBRAAARRRRAAAPPP!! You know the kind. This car is so loud, my boss can hear it on our Zoom calls. The fire alarm in the building across the street goes off at least once a week, and the fire trucks show up. I’ve seen more people getting arrested on my street in the five years I’ve lived here than I ever did during the twenty years I lived in Hollywood. Drunk people are WOOOO!-ing in the street on a nightly basis.
A cast of very colorful characters roam my neighborhood. There’s Conspiracy Lady, who likes to sit outside the building across the street (yup, the fire alarm building) — and go on at great length about how the government is plotting to kill her. There’s the “Dennis!” lady, who I’ve actually spoken in person, and she’s very sweet, but she will stand outside the building next door to mine, and holler for Dennis to come down and let her in. Dennis will eventually yell back that he’s coming downstairs. I don’t know why Dennis doesn’t buy a cell phone for her, and I don’t know why she won’t use the building intercom, but there you go. My next door neighbors used to have Drunken Mariachi Nights on Wednesdays, but they either moved out or management threatened to kick them out if they didn’t quit it. There’s a lady in a van with hand-painted ocean murals who will park across the street, then call someone on her cell phone, get into a heated argument, hang up, then drive away. Some lady once unpacked her duffel bag, changed her clothes right there in the street, and then sashayed away, leaving her crap scattered everywhere on the sidewalk.
And then there’s The MFG. I haven’t seen (or heard him) since August of 2020, and I actually him miss quite a lot. (How do I know that so precisely? Well, read on…) I really do hope that he’s gotten the help he needs, and is in a much better life situation now, and that’s why he hasn’t come around. But, I wanted to tell you his story, because it is truly legendary.
“The MFG” stands for “The Motherf*cker Guy.” I needed this disambiguation, you see, because there are several people who enjoy screaming profanity in my neighborhood. There’s the racist profanity guy, and then there’s another guy who favors profanity-laced rants, and then there are the drunk or deranged randos I hear once and never again.
None of these guys can hold a candle to The MFG. Everything I am about to tell you is true, and at the bottom of this blog post, I have a video to prove it.
So. There was this guy who’d walk around my neighborhood, yelling “YOU MOTHERF*CKER!!!” over and over and over. There are some slight variations, and you can hear them in the video, but they’re unintelligible (at least to me). I was astounded by this guy. Absolutely terrified, but in that thrilling way you’re terrified of a campfire story. He had the ragged, gravelly voice of somebody who’d clawed their way out of Hell, and he was LOUD. Really, really, impressively loud. Not as loud as the guy with the Fart Car, but I could hear The MFG coming from blocks away. I lived in delicious fear of being caught outside on the street one day, and hearing his inexorable approach.
I started keeping notes on when he appeared, to see if I could work out a pattern. There never seemed to be one, except that he favored the small hours of the night. Many times I would be awakened by The MFG and I’d scramble for my notebook on the nightstand, blind myself by turning on my phone, and scribble “MFG!!” with the time of night underneath. Then I’d listen. I got good at it. I was able to pick out his distinctive call from the other nighttime noises. I could hear him the sound of a distant train. I’d sit up in bed with my ears pricked like a dog, squinting into the darkness, trying to discern if it really was The MFG, or if it was some other person screaming in the darkness, or just my own wishful thinking. And, oh my delight when I realized it was him. The MFG was headed my way.
My neighbors of course, did not appreciate him. Many times I heard people yelling at him to shut up, and threatening to call the cops. He never paid them the slightest attention. He had a mission, and that mission was to scream “YOU MOTHERF*CKER!!!” at the top of his lungs.
I told my co-workers about him, and my boss, who has a dark sense of humor, immediately suggested that if somebody made eye contact with The MFG, that they would become The MFG. I immediately decided that this was so horrible, it must be true.
One of my co-workers thought maybe she saw him during her lunch, outside the TJ Maxx. Sometimes The MFG would indeed come around in the middle of the day. She described a guy dressed in a military style jacket and a cap with a bill. Everyone was giving him a very wide berth. A few days after that, The MFG showed up early in the morning, but during daylight. I worked up the nerve to peek out my window. I live on the third floor, so I figured I was pretty safe, and wouldn’t make eye contact with him. I watched The MFG as he walked down the street: a grizzled but mostly-clean shaven guy (I could see a bit of his nose and chin) in a baggy khaki jacket and a cap with a bill, carrying a rucksack. Holy smokes! My co-worker had actually seen The MFG in the wild!
The wind chimes referenced in my picture belong to my neighbors across the street, who have created their own personal garden oasis on their balcony, complete with privacy curtains (no, really), and a set of colossal wind chimes that dangle out over the street, waiting to drop on an unwitting passerby, like an anvil in a Road Runner cartoon. These things are like four feet long. They’re the oh lawd he comin’ of wind chimes. They’re inoffensive on a breezy night, even pleasant — but when it gets super windy its like CLINGCLANGBINGBONGDONGDINGBINGCLINGCLONKBONKDONG all goddamn night.
The acoustics on my street are kinda crazy. I hear everything out in the street. Never mind people yelling. I hear people talking in a normal tone of voice, especially at night, when the street is somewhat quieter. Sounds from the street will bounce into my apartment. I once was sitting on the bed, and thought I heard one of my cats scratching in the litter box. I can’t see into the bathroom from the bedroom, but I turned my head to see which cat would walk out. And I saw both of my cats sitting on the rug in the living room. GHOST CAT! Nope, it was noise in the street.
So, one night, I heard The MFG pass by ‘neath my window, and go to the corner up the street. And then I heard another guy come up to him and start talking to him. “NOOO! Don’t look him in the eye!” was my first thought, because I’m seven years old. The MFG stopped MFG-ing, and I could hear the other guy talking, though I couldn’t make out what was being said. This went on for several minutes. And then at the top of the street, I heard, “YOU MOTHERF*CKER!!!” And the MFG went on his way.
And then, you guys. Again I swear this is true. Months went by. I faithfully recorded every MFG visitation. Sometimes they would stop for a while, but The MFG always came back. This time, he returned in the middle of a Sunday morning, while I was cleaning the apartment. I looked out the bedroom window, and I watched him as he walked up the street. A guy in a dark blue sweatshirt with the hood up, and a long, pure white beard spilling out over his chest.
A completely different guy than I had seen before.
I have no idea what to think about that. Was my boss was right? Did the guy who spoke to The MFG on the street corner that night, become The MFG? Obviously that can’t actually be the explanation, but…
There’s that but. It’s a big but.
I heard The MFG several times after that, but August of 2020 was the last time. Always before, it was a gap of a month or two, and then he returned. Now, I haven’t heard him in nearly a year, and I wonder if I will ever hear him again. I miss him. Guess it just goes to show that you never know what kind of an impact you will have on those around you. He brought joy into my life — a very strange kind of joy, but a joy nonetheless. Wherever you are, MFG, I wish you the best, and I thank you.
Back in 2019, I finally caught The MFG on video at 4:30 in the morning. There’s not much to see in this video, but needless to say, it is chock-full of profanity. This is not a looping video; this is literally forty-three seconds of The MFG walking down my street, and doing his thing. Near the end of the video, you can sort of see the silhouette of my black cat Friday eclipsing the lights of the apartment building across the street.