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The Lime Barty Story
By Dave Shulman
First published in L.A. Weekly, February 7, 2001.
Lime Barty was the name I gave to a neighbor I never met. Never met, never saw, never wanted to see or to perceive in any other way. Because this much I knew: Every morning, Lime Barty turned on his radio — Howard Stern, plenty loud — turned on his shower, waited about 10 seconds, then cried out for all to hear, “lime barty!” I assume he did this while taking a shower, but I could never prove it and it doesn’t matter. First came the voice of Stern, then the sizzle of shower, then: “lime barty!”
And only that. Lime Barty made this bold proclamation once each weekday at 9:30 a.m. — loud and italic, singsong like a ’50s Burbank housewife answering the doorbell with I’m coming! — then finished his shower and carried on with his now all the more mysteriously silent Lime Barty life.
Was it in fact “lime barty” — not “wine party,” or even “line barty” — that Lime Barty said? I couldn’t be certain. But from across the narrow channel separating our buildings, that’s what it sounded like, not only to me but to several of my friends. Even Rachel, a doctoral candidate in linguistics, agreed that whatever it was Lime Barty was actually saying, it sounded more like “lime barty” than anything else.
After a few weeks, I decided to stop questioning. Things could be worse. As it happened, 9:30 was a convenient time for me to wake up, and I came to integrate the call of Lime Barty favorably, as an alarm clock.
A month passed. And another. Every weekday at 9:30, I’d awaken to the Stern voice, the ensuing shower sizzle and “lime barty!“; I’d rise, turn on my LCII (all tricked out with 10 megs of RAM and an 80MB hard drive) and make coffee. By the end of the first cup, all traces of Lime Barty had evaporated, and I settled in to work.
One day I found myself inexplicably awake before 8 and taking out the trash at 9:30. The dumpster path led me directly below the Lime Barty window, where, owing to an auspicious mix of timbre and proximity, the Lime Barty mystery ended like this:
First came the voice of Stern, then the sizzle of shower, then, with the crystalline ebullience of a first-time bride releasing her bouquet, “I’m farting!”
Frightening? Terribly. And disappointing. It was like finding out that the Cars, in Candy-O‘s “Let’s Go,” were saying, “She never likes to choose” and not “She never likes the Jews.” And, in keeping with the paradigm, after I’d heard the call of Lime Barty as it was intended to be heard, it was hard to imagine how it had ever sounded like “lime barty” in the first place. Moral: Never take out the trash.