The owners of the quaint bungalow across the street turned up one day to welcome us with a jar of homemade “jam” that looked suspiciously like a jar of vomit. Introducing himself as an ex-airline pilot, the man of the house launched headlong into the sordid story of his forced retirement. Apparently the airlines frowned upon mixing martinis with high altitudes. Who knew?

The woman beside the pilot was 50-ish and statuesque, with leathery skin the color of chewing tobacco. Tall, blond and reeking of grain alcohol, she pumped my outstretched hand. “Goddag, I am Birgit,” she slurred in an accent that sounded indigenous to some cold Nordic country.

Feeling certain I’d misunderstood her, I asked for clarification: “Did you say your name is Beer-gut?”

“Ya, I’m from the Netherlands,” Birgit added by way of explanation. Following several unladylike belches, she then invited us over for cocktails. Naturally.

After we declined the invitation, the twosome staggered back to the bungalow, where the pilot deposited Birgit, ass first, into a kiddie pool in the front yard. I watched her head loll to the side as she promptly rolled out of the pool and passed out next to the flower beds. Potted geraniums—potted Birgit.

Over the next six months, as we fostered our own suburban lives, we kept our distance from the pilot and his princess. We continued to decline their party invitations, all of which seemed to revolve around vodka, Abba music and the wading pool. Then on our first Thanksgiving in our new home, the love-in came to an end.

As I rolled my bird out of the oven, the EMTs rolled Birgit out of the bungalow in a body bag. She had finally gone to the great wading pool in the sky.

We’d returned to the suburbs to escape the twisted depravity of urban street life, only to replace it with the pathos and depression of a suburban nightmare. Where were the Stingrays and perfect sunsets? Where were Carol Brady and Shirley Partridge now that we really needed them? Hell, I’d even have settled for Weezy Jefferson! At least Weezy had the sense to “move on up to the East Side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky” … hello?