His house is up the hill from mine. Shortly after I moved in one of my neighbors asked me if I’d heard him singing at night. I hadn’t – so I assumed I just lived too far down the road from him.
I was wrong.
I hadn’t heard him singing, because I’d been on the road so much. Just days after learning about T-GASN (The Gay Alcoholic Singing Neighbor), I heard him for the first time. Mind you, it was in the middle of the afternoon, I was in my room, taking a nap. All of my doors and window were closed, and I had the jazz station lightly playing in the living room. Just beyond the sound of John Coltrane I could hear another song faintly intruding. Intruding enough to wake me up. “Hmmm – is the station fading out”, I wondered?
I rolled out of bed and sauntered to the living room. I reached for the remote, which always lays on the bookshelf, just past the hall door, and changed the channel. Still in the background … I heard the same vocalist. Muting the stereo – it was clear the sound was penetrating my house from outdoors. I opened the front door and was assaulted by “Babs”, aka Barbara. Yep that’s right, Barbara Streisand was coming to the end of “People”. Just as the last notes died away, Judy Garland began, “Over the Rainbow”. I sat on my steps for a few minutes as he ran through his repertoire. His lung capacity was impressive – as he hung onto the long notes. Not to mention his ability to project down the hill, across the neighborhood and through doors and windows. It was … ummm, “charming”. For that one afternoon. It became less charming as it continued on through the afternoon and into the evening. His ability to project never diminished, unfortunately the same can’t be said for his tonal quality.
At the next feed-your-neighbor gathering, the topic of T-GASN came up. I learned his real name, that he came from a prominent family, his brother owned a local restaurant, and that he had pretty much abused away his life. A neighbor who lived directly across from him warned me to never, ever, encourage him. Once, another neighbor was holding a dinner party and T-GASN showed up unannounced, invited himself in, began to mingle with the guests, drink, and behave inappropriately.
Shortly after this revelation I had my first encounter with T-GASN. I’d been out to dinner with friends and had invited them back to sit on the front porch and drink wine. There we were, in the warm summer night, enjoying the stars and conversation, when suddenly, out of the dark, an aria from La Boheme came drifting down the street. Immediately I implored my guests to not cat-call, or make any noise which might attract attention. I should have known any statement like that would be like waving a jack-rabbit in front of a pack of hunting dogs. Instantly the wolf howls and cat calls began. Just as quickly my neighbor appeared, winding his way down the street while crooning, “Singing in the Rain” and drinking beer. Without being asked he tired to join the party on the porch. His first question was, “So, which one of you lives here? I haven’t met my new neighbor yet!” Being a quick thinker, I pushed forward the Outer Banks Engineer and said, “He does!”. It became clear the crooner was going to try and settle in, when he asked for a glass so he could join us enjoying the wine. I demurred and drug the OBE’s (Outer Banks Engineer) brother, Dr. Gas, into the house and implored him to send my neighbor on his way. One little “man-to-man” talk later and T-GASN was on his way. Fortunately for me, he’s never returned – and never questioned why OBE’s car is at the house even less than mine.
Holidays always seem to bring out more performances from T-GASN. Tonight I came home to an off-key version of “What Child is This?”. As I sit here writting this, I can hear, “We Three Kings of Orient Are” over Alton Brown. Joy to the World, T-GASN is serenading us tonight. Let’s hope it isn’t a long performance!