THROUGH THE FIRE: Spinning Out of Control



By Trisha Murakawa


Living on my street is getting increasingly scary and dangerous and it’s spinning out of control. I don’t know what to do or what my options are.

It is not uncommon to see three to four “black and whites” in front of my house. Over the summer, it seemed like the cops showed up at least once a month regardless of the day of the week. So far, they have never drawn their guns out on the street, but it has definitely been pretty scary.

The cops come to our street to stop the fights between my neighbors. There is lots of yelling and accusations of assaults. The fighting neighbors speed down the street, screech their brakes and honk their horns like angry road raging freeway drivers on drugs, only instead of yelling driving related insults, they’re yelling things like “give me back my $400 and my credit card you stupid #$^#@!”

I don’t know how much longer I can tolerate this. My children are traumatized and I, frankly, am scared that one day, one of them is going to shoot or stab the other.

At least five of us neighbors call the cops on these idiots on a regular basis. It’s pathetic because it’s such a waste of taxpayer money to have the police stop these ridiculous but incessant fights. But if the cops don’t come, the fights linger on and on and my children are very scared, particularly my daughter.

Truthfully, the root of the problem is alcoholism.

The fighting alcoholic neighbors are two middle-aged women, both married with grown children. Check this out—one of them has a daughter who is a deputy sheriff.

I know because the Sheriff’s Department was doing a background investigation before they admitted the daughter into the academy. They called me for a character reference; if it could have only been for her mother. Darn!

Coincidentally, I ran into that neighbor one day at my hair salon. It freaked me out, especially since I was trying to get away from her. When she saw it was me sitting in the chair next to her, I couldn’t believe her nerve when she tried to tell me that the reason the cops were at her house all the time was because her daughter’s friends in the Sheriff’s Academy were playing pranks on her by sending the cops to her parents’ house.

I wonder if she believes her own lies since she thinks I was born yesterday.

My neighbors’ husbands seem like pretty normal people. Neither of them have problems of public drunkenness. They don’t seem to be alcoholics. They seem like normal decent people. They walk their dogs, they don’t speed down our street or yell epithets at their wives or others and they generally are very good neighbors.

One day a few years ago, however, one of the husbands was handcuffed and sitting on the curb outside. It was a weekend afternoon and my husband and I, luckily were not outside that day with our kids riding bikes and playing in the street like we normally do with our other neighbor friends and their kids.

We heard a lot of yelling and then a series of loud bangs outside. I ran to the window and saw the drunken crazed looking wife yelling and stomping around on her balcony. I saw the hood of our neighbor’s truck that was in their driveway bashed with dimples made, apparently, from fireplace tools—the poker, the broom and dustpan were strewn about in the street in front. She threw them from the balcony.

Her husband was out front in the driveway.

If she wanted to kill her husband, that’s one thing, but it could have been really bad if our kids were out front that day.

I don’t know what it’s like to be an alcoholic or an addict of another type of substance. But what I do know is what it is like to be around raging violent out-of-control alcoholics. I see the harm they cause to themselves in terms of their reputations, the loss of their jobs, the damage their disease does to their families and their other relationships, and I see the physical, emotional and mental deterioration that occurs on their bodies and themselves.

I’ve seen a former client suffer greatly from alcoholism and I wit­nessed her drink herself to sickness and over the summer learned of her death.

I see the father of a friend of my daughter’s function as an alcoholic most of the time, but more than a few times, I’ve seen him so drunk that he can barely stand. His speech was so slurred and his memory is so bad, he doesn’t realize how many times he’s told me or my husband certain stories and anecdotes because his brain is mush.

I shudder to think that one day, his daughter will find him so drunk that he’s passed out or worse yet, find him dead one day at home (he is a single dad).

I’ve seen the little tricks or signs that alcoholics think we are too dumb to know—the mouth wash, the mints, the perfume and the cough drops to try to cover up the smell of alcohol that comes through the skin on their faces or their breath, and of course, their extreme thinness because they don’t eat food, but only drink alcohol. (I’ve also noticed their stomachs take on that slight bulge like starving children have in third world nations.)

What do we as a community do about the pervasiveness of alcoholism? I honestly do not know.

I am not a “goody goody” and have had my fair share of “fun,” but I have not and hopefully will always have the sound judgment to never get behind the wheel of a car when mentally impaired from alcohol because I believe that is absolutely reprehensible and selfish behavior; anyone who does and injures themselves or another person should be held accountable.

I am not talking about the glass of wine or other libation that one enjoys with a meal or socially with others. No. I see alcoholism, the disease of addiction, as a huge problem in our society that must be addressed directly, not in a passive/aggressive way. Whether the drinking is constant or binge behavior, alcoholics and this addiction should not be enabled and they should never get “off the hook” for bad judgment or behavior.

Alcohol is glamorized in young Hollywood. Young 20-something stars and starlets are glamorized for showing up at trendy clubs and restaurants, but in reality, their drinking and partying is what is being glamorized.

What is sad is that the gossip rags don’t do the follow up on the 20-something celebrities who turn into 30-, 40- and 50-somethings and show how they look 10 and 20 years later after the heavy toll alcohol and excessive partying takes on the body and the face. The gossip rags should show the before and after shots.

I am open to any suggestions any Rafu readers may have about how to address this problem of alcoholism and the problem with my neighbors. I will no longer allow these extremely selfish people to ruin my life or traumatize my children.

Please, as we head into this holiday season, please do not drink and drive and please call a cab or give a ride to someone you know is inebriated.

Thank you.


Trisha Murakawa is a strategic communications and public affairs consultant based in Redondo Beach. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.



1 Comment

  1. Your writing style: easy, flowing — yet the title and content — come at me like arrows. Your article sounding like a 40’s or 50’s fiction and for sure not anything reflecting a Japanese family, but the truth of the story and the closeness of the pain it pours out has left me dizzy.

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