Suburban Nightmare

A-woooo…Werewolves of Beaverton.

November 18, 2008

(Thanks to Cat Power for the audio/visual treat.)
For the past two weeks I’ve been living somewhere in Beaverton. (I know the route but still couldn’t map it out for you) The ladyfriend decided to have our bathroom remodeled and despite the fact that it’s not much bigger than the trunk of a Yugo anyway, the contractor told us it would be a three week job. During that time we would have no shower and no toilet. The backyard and a water hose would’ve been fine with me, but the ladyfriend is finicky. She likes her fine self clean. And unsmelly. Luckily for us our three-weeks as refugees coincided with the three weeks her grandmother would be out of town. We became boarders.

Having a home (however temporary) is wonderful. But after 346 hours, 17 minutes, and change (hey, who’s counting?) in Beaverton I am ready to come back to my crime riddled neighborhood in North Portland. On my knees if necessary. Crazy neighbor with the meth habit and assault weapon stockpile, all is forgiven!

This is probably not a popular opinion, right? But understand: I am a child of the suburbs (well, as much of a suburb as you can find in Arkansas). I know what it’s like to have your "special dinners" at crazy-crap-on-the-wall assembly lines like Chili’s and Applebee’s. To buy music at Hastings (where, when I had to special order Radiohead’s debut, was accosted by the counter jockey with the age old question: "What’s a radio head?"). To play parking lot roulette at the mall. To shop, gulp, at Wal Mart.

That’s why I moved to Portland, to avoid the suburban malaise. The first morning in the Beav we cruised red-eyed and frantic looking for coffee that was non-Starbucks. We looked like junkies aching for a fix. In a sense, I guess we were. For the ladyfriend’s birthday we had dessert at the Cheesecake Factory and drank overpriced cocktails with whip cream on them (egads!). We’ve found ourselves discussing, with actual seriousness, of going to the dangerous looking "Sunset Strip" (you guessed it—a strip club) just to put a little edge back in our lives.

But having said all that, one aspect of living in Beaverton remains wild and, quite frankly, just a tad scary.

I worked late last night. The Max was a little tardy. The train ran slow. So by the time I got off at the Sunset Transit Center and started my long walk home, I felt like I’d been transported into the middle of the underrated horror film, "An American Werewolf in London." The moon was in full glow, obscured by frothy, billowing fog. Once I cleared the station entrance and made it over the overpass, I was very alone. Windows of passing houses were dark. No cars passed. I turned the volume down on my iPod just to make sure I could at least hear crickets. It was kind of eerie. That’s when I remembered that I was now walking the same dark streets where the ladyfriend and I had on separate occasion seen coyotes trotting amid the bushes and trees.

Did you know they have coyotes in the ’burbs?

I did not. And now it’s all I can think about. And I’m walking a bit faster now. And my head is on a swivel. And I’ve now taken out my earplugs so i can hear everything. The closer I get to our temporary home the more I notice I’m walking in the middle of the street, making sure to steer clear of the pitch black ditches and overhangs. A block from fake-home I catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of my right eye. I jump. And now I’m moving with the forced clip of a mall walker.

Ultimately there were no snarling animals, save for the three dogs inside the house who desperately needed to pee. As you might have suspected, I’m just an enormous wuss. But this afternoon, as the sun creeps every closer to the horizon I’m eyeing the clock. Can I make it to my substitute suburban home before the wolves come out?

Probably. But just to be safe, maybe I should just curl up in a booth inside Applebee’s with a warm, gooey Triple Chocolate Meltdown. They’re as good as a silver bullet, right?

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