By: Shea Serrano
Three, maybe four times in the last month, my car has been broken into. I suppose at least a portion of that is my fault, both macro and micro.
Macro: I mean, if I'd have maybe paid more attention in school, I'd probably make more money than I do today, which means I wouldn't have to live across the street from a seedy storage facility and a couple hundred feet away from an apartment complex that -- even money -- is right this very second playing host to at least two gangland style executions.
Micro: Despite the fact that I live in a row of townhomes that features a gate at the entrance and the exit (murders can't climb gates, I guess), I never park inside. I only park in the street. I don't know why I do this, I just do it. What's more, I NEVER lock my doors. What's more what's more, I occasionally leave my windows down. Now, initially, I simply didn't do those things because I didn't feel it was necessary. While I love Love LOVE my car dearly, it is not one that most people covet. It is a 20-year-old Jeep Cherokee. The tread on the tires is gone and the power locks only work if they're feeling especially charitable and the only reason that air does not rush inside the car while I drive is because I stuffed the gap between the door and body's frame with weather stripping. But still, despite its shortcomings, the burglars hunted it.
The first time it happened, it was because I'd unintentionally left the windows down overnight. The burglars (I assume it's a twosome because twice the driver's side door and passenger's side door have been left open, and that doesn't really seem like something that one person would do; it'd be like breaking a window to enter a house, then breaking a separate window to get out) got in, rummaged through the glove box and center console, found nothing, then scadoodled. They didn't bother to try and remove the radio (it's the stock cassette player) and they didn't bust out any windows or anything (they are a higher class of criminal). Two weeks later, it happened again in nearly the exact same order.
After that, things got weird. I'd been parking my car out there for about nine months before this all started happening, and I'd never locked the doors or really worried about anything. The burglars had no doubt noticed (they probably discussed that very thing at their burglar meeting, which burglars definitely have because, I mean, it's in every goddamn movie). It felt like if I decided to start locking it, they'd get mad and tear shit up just to do so. So I left it. And those motherfuckers got me two more times over three more weeks.
I guess I could've just moved it out of the street -- that would definitely have been the most sensible thing to do. But the first thing I thought about when I considered that option was that part in The Last Castle where Robert Redford, playing an ultrarespectable military inmate, responds to threat of removal to a separate facility by James Gandolfini, the unscrupulous prison warden and Redford's antagonist, with something like, "Well, you COULD do that, but you don't want to win like that, do you?" So then this:
That's a mixtape I made for the burglars. On it are eleven songs, all specifically chosen to relay specific messages for them. I included a CD version as well (because maybe they don't have a tape player -- I don't know), and a handwritten note. The note reads as follows:
Hi. So you're the guys that keep breaking into my car? That's cool, I guess. I'm S. This car is mine. While I am not exactly pleased with the thought of strange men digging through my stuff, I do appreciate that you have not broken any windows or torn up my dash or urinated on my seats. Thank you for that. At any rate, I made you a mixtape. It has songs about how this whole process has made me feel. I hope you enjoy it. Or, I don't know, I guess it's really not all that important that you enjoy it. Whatevs. Really, I'd just like for you to please stop entering my car. Or at the very least, please close the door all of the way after you leave. Last time you left it open and the steering wheel got all sticky. Morning air has a lot of dew in it, y'know? Than ks. It would be a TOTAL dick move for you to bust out my windows now, so long as you know.
I placed the note and the tape and CD inside the center console, all packaged together. I didn't put a bow on it because this isn't a Disney movie.
The tape's tracklist:Janis Joplin, "Piece Of My Heart"
Most applicable line:
"Why don't you just come on. Come on, take it. Take another little piece of my heart now, baby."Because
getting my car broken into makes me sad, obvs. It's a very deflating way to start the workday. I just walk out there, see the door cracked open, realize what's happened, then go, "...[sigh] motherfuckers."
Almost all of these picks are this clichéd, BTW. Sorry. It's just, I didn't want to be so clever that the message became byzantine. I mean, I guess it's not entirely implausible that the assailant is a hyperintelligent music nerd, but it's probably more likely that he's addicted heroin.
Lily Allen, "Fuck You Very Much"
Most applicable line: Look inside, look inside your tiny mind. Then look a bit harder. 'Cause we're so uninspired, so sick and tired of all the hatred you harbor.
Yelawolf, "Fuck You"
Most applicable line: "Fuck you, fuck you, fuuu-uuuu---uuuuck you." In case the cheer-cheer-cheeriness of Lily Allen's charm usurped the menace in the lyrics.
Z-Ro, "I Hate You, Bitch"
Most applicable line: "Why you gotta put all this drama in my life?" Because obviously.
Monica, "Don't Take It Personal"
Most applicable line: "It's just one of them days, that a girl goes through... I sit and I think about everything we do and I find myself in misery and that ain't cool." I'm a great big girl, it appears.
Also: I just really love the idea of this gritty, grimy guy in a black sweatshirt and black beanie pulled down low over his brow sitting there listening to Monica. Also also: If the burglar was born anytime before 1983, then this song touched his existence in 1995 when it was released. When it comes springing on, it's almost impossible not to smile. And everyone deserves a moment like that. Even shitty people.
Lloyd Banks, "Get Clapped"
Most applicable line: Well... I wanted to pick "I'm hella rowdy and I'm nothin' nice," but it's likely no stone killer has ever responded to multiple robberies with a homemade semi-aggressive mixtape. Irony is always fucking up my game.
Big Tuck, "Tussle"
Most applicable line: ALL OF IT
THIS. SHIT. BANGS.
Jermaine Jackson, "Do What You Do"
Most applicable line: "Why don't you do what you do when you did what you did to me?" Because I'm still not sure I entirely understand what's happening in the chorus. Is he asking for someone to do something? Is he asking why someone did something? WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING?
Michael Jackson, "Human Nature"
Most applicable line: "Why? Why?" Why?
Tupac, "Hit 'Em Up"
Most applicable line: "First off, fuck yo' bitch and the clique you claim." Definitely* the first thing I'm going to say to them when I inevitably happen across them thumbing through the envelopes in my glove box someday. *"Definitely" is a dauntingly firm word. Probably closer to "What could possibly be," would be my guess.
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Green Day, "Platypus (I Hate You)"
Most applicable line: "Dickhead, fuckface, cock-smoking mother fucking asshole, dirty twat, waste of semen, I hope you die." I just wish I got to call people "dirty twat" more often. I hope that they take the tape and I hope that they listen to it. In my most auspicious imaginings, they respond in kind, and it becomes this regular amazing thing that I start talking about WAY too much. Eventually, we fall in love and we court each other and we know it can't work but we try anyway because that's what love is all about. Really though, I just hope they don't pee on my seats.