“It was just a great neighborhood,” said Garcia, 42, who now lives in Los Angeles. “I loved the fact that you could be in the back yard and you could look all the way down the block through the back yards.”
Two families built a bridge over the fence dividing their yards so the neighborhood kids could roam the close-knit community. And whenever Garcia ran into mechanical problems while cutting the grass, help would arrive the moment he turned the lawn mower upside down.
“It was almost magical how I would look up, and there would be three older guys with tools who must have been watching me outside their windows ready to assist.”
When he wasn’t playing or doing chores, he recalled: “I was probably in the basement watching [TV]. I spent a lot of time in the basement doing what I now know was research.”
Although none of his shows has been based on Arlington, Garcia finds other ways to pay tribute to his upbringing. The trailer park in “Earl” was called Pimmitt Hills, after the Fairfax County neighborhood where the family lived before moving to Arlington. He has used the names of his parents, his neighbors and nearby streets. A character in “Raising Hope” often wears a Capitals T-shirt; Redskins clothing and memorabilia have shown up on his other shows.
Natalie Garcia said her son has been funny since he was a child. On Greg’s third day in kindergarten, she recalled, he organized a “Bathroom Olympics,” in which the 5-year-old boys competed to see how high they could pee on the wall, marking their attempts with their initials. Greg reportedly won bronze.
When Greg and his wife, Kim, who is from Hyattsville, visit with their three sons, they stay with the Garcias, in the basement of Greg’s childhood home — alongside the crickets.
“I sleep with a blanket over my head down there,” Garcia said. “Because one time I was sleeping with my mouth open, and one jumped right in my mouth.”