The Neighborhood

The house we live in was built in 1917. My husband’s family has owned it a long time. He grew up here. He’s ambivalent about living in the house where he grew up. I’m frequently required to point out the advantages.

One of those advantages is the neighborhood. It’s close to everything we need. Although my harp teacher has just moved which means I now have to get on the freeway. Poor me.

My husband travels all over the world. I complain about a twenty minute freeway drive. Opposites attract.

Most mornings I get up and take a walk before I sit down to write for several hours. Exercise is necessary for a body, especially a body that’s way past middle-age. I like early morning. I like the newness of the day, and the feel of cool morning air against my skin. Most mornings I meet people walking their dogs, people jogging up a serious sweat, people going to work, people like me with ipods and earplugs tramping along in time with – in my case – John Fogerty, Tom Petty. Springsteen. Dylan. I do like starting off the day with Dylan. I recently added Levon Helm to the list.

Starbucks has been kind enough to put a store on a nearby corner. Now I can take a nice brisk nice walk and end up with a Starbucks vente-decaf-iced-nonfat-latte and feel quite virtuous (except for having spent an obscene amount of money for a cup of coffee), all in under an hour.

On trash day I meet folks with shopping carts and bags going through the neighborhood trash cans looking for recyclables. We say hello to each other, all very polite. This morning I saw a guy with a shopping cart and lots of trash bags, and figured that’s what he was.

I wasn’t thinking too clearly. Wednesday is trash day. Today was Tuesday.

I may like early morning, but I don’t wake up all that well tuned into the outside world.

So we crossed the street, this guy and I, going toward Starbucks. I was walking behind him. He started yelling at a car that had stopped in the crosswalk. He slowed down, really into his tirade, wanting the driver to back up out of the crosswalk, and I passed on by his far side. I wasn’t about to get between him and the poor lady in the car. Finally he stopped yelling at her and stepped up onto the sidewalk behind me. I had to cross in front of him to get to Starbucks.

He said that was that the second reason he wanted that car to back up out of the crosswalk was that he wasn’t going to be a human shield for me.

I thought he was joking. I laughed.

Wrong. He wasn’t kidding. He started yelling and swearing at me. Loudly and profusely. I’m not sure exactly what all he said, but it wasn’t complimentary. I didn’t pause to have a conversation. I was too busy high-tailing it into Starbucks.

Fortunately he didn’t follow me. Maybe Starbucks was too pricey for his blood.

Also fortunately, he wasn’t still around when I came back out.

I’ll think twice the next time I’m tempted to laugh at a stranger’s joke.

Sometimes having a sense of humor isn’t altogether a good thing.

Published in: on August 6, 2008 at 12:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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