Ever listen to a 40+ year old retarded Italian man bark unintelligible grunts, drool thick, ropey strands of saliva stalactites onto his shirt, and make a mean, 88-year old lady with the face of a spider-web, cry? I lent a curious ear from my fire escape window as the revelation became crystal clear. Between Michael's monosyllabic, teary-eyed rants and next door landlord Carmella, playing verbal rorschach with his tracheal code, I ascertained that her long time friend Pauline, my 90-year old downstairs neighbor, had suddenly died. Seems that the ham-headed yet sweet Pauline had slipped and broke her hip a few weeks ago, leaving her live-in son Peter, in a pickle. Peter lost his job a year ago when his office in the Twin Towers burned and crashed and had been out of work, taking care of his ailing mother. Pauline was taken for 24-hour hip-repair care and left qualifying her mortal coil. A little shady and a lot gay, Peter is an okay fellow and the only local neighbor I can count on for ghetto news and gossip. He snap-judges like the rest of the Eye-talians in the 'hood, but at least it's honest ignorance. He ain't half the man his mother was, but Pauline was a feisty one and tough to compete with. She took no shit and told it like it was. Guess that's what happens when you get to be her age and seen the planet go from major world wars to peace treaties to the invention of television, digital games, and the internet. Where a bare leg was the sexiest thing on the silver screen and now it takes an amplified anal cavity check to put a rise in today's desensitized Levi's. Pauline would belt me with her balled up, Freudian laced knuckles and wonder who was gonna make me an honest man. She kept her ship tight and our stoop warm. I'm gonna miss that wrinkled, two-fisted terror in the plaid coat. Rest in peace, Pauline.