Friday, September 10, 2010
Life on L.S.D.
Folks are still talking about it this morning. Everybody said it was really quite something - wasn't it? - to watch those boys put down the pavement, spread it around, then bring out those big machines to roll it flat.
Why, people actually pulled up their lawn chairs to the end of the driveway, just to watch all the goings on and the particulars of the art of paving a road. I hear Mrs. Johnson brought out a big pitcher of her famous iced peach tea - even gave some to the workers on their break.
And, oh my, can't you still smell it this morning? Maybe just a little? But it was Really Bad last night, wasn't it? Why, you could almost see the vapors coming in through the walls, it got so bad there at one point, didn't it?
Well, and it's a good thing they got it done, isn't it? 'Bout time. We've only been complaining for the past coupla years. The only bad thing now is if some of these teenagers start getting their parents to get them those motorized golf carts and they start having drag races up and down the street like they did over at Pot Nets.
You heard about that, right? Terrible noise. Kids! What's wrong with their parents? Could be dangerous. Put up a $25 fine. Had to get the cops involved and everything.
Really? I asked. I don't know. Something about 'drag races' with golf carts seems pretty funny. I mean, how fast can they go, really? Five, maybe ten miles per hour? And they can't make too much noise - not like cars or motorcycles . . . .
. . . . Silence.
Nobody's smiling, except Mr. Schleimacher has a decidedly impish grin peeking out from under the brim of his John Deere cap which covers most of his face when he turns it down to stare at his shoes so his wife can't see.
So . . . . wasn't the corn good this year?
Thus passed another early morning conversation with some of my neighbors.
We're not in the Northeast Corridor anymore, Dorothy.
I don't think I ever really had regular conversations with my neighbors there. Oh, occasionally. If they caught you (or you caught them) at just the right time of day and in the right mood you just MIGHT have an actually conversation and not simply a perfunctory exchange of howdy-do's.
Here in LSD, people actively engage you in conversation. Sentences are often punctuated - in the middle or at the end - with a question designed to pull you into the conversation. Or a statement is constructed as part of a question, soliciting your agreement or opinion.
I haven't met a "busybody" in my neighborhood. You know - the kind who like to make statements as a prelude to asking you a personal question. Oh, I'm sure they're here. They are everywhere. I just haven't met 'em. Yet.
No gossips, either. Old Mr. Ollis checks in on the elderly and lets us know if they need special tending to. He stopped by in his golf cart just the other day to tell us that Old Mrs. Simonelli had a fall but one of her grand kids stopped by about 10 minutes later and she's okay.
I should note that the unofficial rule is that anyone who's lived here longer than 20 years is called "Old Mr/Mrs/Ms so-and-So" which is really short for "Good Old . .."
Or, if one is past the age of 85 one is referred to as "Old Mr/Mrs/Ms So-and-So" - because your really are considered "ancient of days". But, it's said with reverence and respect. A signal that we all ought to look in on the fragile elderly among us occasionally and be sure they're okay so they can continue to live independently for as long as they can.
"Old Mr. Ollis" is in his mid-70s, but has lived here for about 25 years. We can rely on him to cart bulk trash off to the landfill over on Rte 5, fix a ripped screen, mow your lawn, or repair a leaky pipe.
If you call him on the phone and he's not there, the message you get is his wife saying, "You have reached The Ollis' and Ollis' Small Jobs." He and his wife fill us in on the details of the community - on a "need to know" basis, of course.
Good Old Mr. Ollis.
That doesn't mean that there haven't been the usual curious questions about the new full time neighbor at the end of the street - Where're you from? What do you do? How'd you come here? - or a few gentle pokes into the particulars of my life.
Like the conversation I had with Mrs. Hollyfield the other day, who clearly knew about "my situation". I guess the sign we put up on the house a few years ago that reads, "Welcome to Llangollen" might have given it away. I mean, these days, everyone can google, can't they?
"Don't get me wrong," she said, "I love my husband - he's a dear, dear man and has been a good father and provider - but after God takes him, there won't be another man in my house, I can tell you that. No sir. You know? One man is enough, if you get my point. Maybe more than enough," she laughed.
"If it weren't for the sex, you know, I would have been very happy living with another woman. Then again," she laughed, "if I had known the sex wouldn't last very long, I might have changed my mind from the very beginning!"
We both giggled like naughty school girls.
"Well," I said, trying to keep my tone light, "I don't think that's something one can change one's mind about, you know?"
"Oh, of course!" she said, "You are the way God made you, and God made you a beautiful person. I'm sure your partner is a good person, too. She's a nurse, Mr. Ollis said. A hospice nurse. God love her. A hospice nurse and a priest! How wonderful! God bless you both."
"Well, thank you," I said, a bit taken aback that we had obviously been part of someone's conversation at some point. I shouldn't have been. Mr. Ollis gives out information on a "need to know" basis. I'm sure she just connected the dots.
"We'll be celebrating our 34th Anniversary next month," I added, mostly out of my own discomfort. I suppose I wanted to add some legitimacy to her praise.
"Thirty-four years!" she exclaimed. "Bob and I just celebrated our 58th. God is good!"
"Now, listen to me," she said, lowering her voice, "not everyone around here is as . . . . accepting . . . you know? Some may give you a hard time. Oh, they'll be pleasant and won't do you any harm but they really won't TALK with you. Know what I mean?"
"Sounds pretty much like North Jersey to me," I said, "but that's because there, people live such busy, important lives, you know?"
"Oh, I'm from Philly," she said. "Same thing. Same thing in Boston and Chicago and almost anywhere these days. Sad, you know? Such a rat race."
I nodded my head, just really beginning to understand my own failings.
"Prejudice and ignorance are everywhere, too. It's really not them," she said. "It's what they've been taught. What they hear in some of those God-awful churches they got around here with pastors who act all humble and such but I call them 'God's Peacocks'. They strut and preen and talk about Jesus, but it's really all about them, isn't it? Never seen such insecure people in my whole life! They just pick on the gays because somebody's got to be lower than them. Makes them think they look better. Just makes them look ignorant - like they don't know anything about Jesus."
"Holier-than-thou," she muttered between her clenched teeth.
"Like that idiot in Florida who wanted to burn the Qu'ran," she said, clearly disgusted. "Or those people in New York City - wanting to stop that Islamic Community Center from being built! They give Republicans a bad name!"
I giggled softly.
"Non-denominational churches!" she muttered. "You won't find Methodists doing anything like that!" she said, straightening her shoulders as she exclaimed, "I'm Methodist. We're all about social justice. It's in the Bible, despite what Glenn Beck says, but what would he know, him being a Mormon and all, you know?"
"Oh, and, covered dish suppers!" she laughed as she said, "You'll have to come to our next one. End of September. I'll get you the date. Or, buy our cook book. I can let you have one for five dollars. Two of my recipes made it in there. You'll love it!"
She took my hand in hers, like an old friend I had just met for the first time, and said, "Just don't pay them any mind. You just keep being the beautiful person you are, loving God and helping people the way you do. You and your partner. Okay?"
"You bet," I said, grateful for her words.
And that, as they say, was that.
I walked up the street, checked the mail, got The NY Times at Perry's One Stop at the top of the street, and talked a bit with the some of the Baymen at Perry's Bait Shop next door before I walked back home, got another cup of coffee and moved to my spot on the deck that faces the water.
The fish are really jumping this morning. The herons, egrets, gulls and ducks are loving this milder weather. I spotted a family of green heron in the marsh the other day and was absolutely delighted to spot them again this morning. Mama is out now, teaching the young to feast on the grasshoppers and other insects that call the marsh their home.
It's going to be a huge adjustment, learning to live a slower paced life on LSD.
But, I think I'll survive. Might even thrive.
I might just have to get myself back to the Northeast Corridor every once in a while. Just to remind myself of what I'm missing.
And, what I've got right here. You know?