New Neighbors, Same Voyeur

watching
The neighbors, Sweetey, Petey, and Baby Dumdum, moved across town with promises to come back for a summer time cook-out. We watched them drive off with the final carload of clothes and boxes, feeling a sense of regret and acceptance that a reunion would never happen. Not knowing their last name, forwarding address or phone number made it clear that we were not the best neighbors.

Next time, we vowed to get it right.

Tears dried on our faces as we looked onto the empty house when a moving truck rumbled up the street, manned by the new neighbors.

Garry and Ginny had arrived.

Has one day ever been enough time to repaint, make repairs and clean the carpets between rental residents? I should think not, but to a slum landlord those are mere inconveniences easily overlooked, likely in the same way that she overlooked their background check and employment verification.

It was a fair exchange of a blind eye for a blind eye.

Garry stepped out of the truck with a cigarette dangling from his lip. His arms and legs were swirls of vivid colors and tattooed images. Stroking his beard with one hand and smoking with the other, he surveyed all that was his by way of rent and nodded. He saw that it was good.

Ginny hopped down from her side of the truck. Points of bright, red hair poked out from underneath of an army hat. She, too, smoked, and agreed that this was going to be eh…whatever.

They flicked their cigarette butts out onto the grass, and hand in hand, the couple walked into their new abode.

From that time, I’ve watched them halfheartedly through the window. The joy of neighbor watching left with Sweetey, Petey and Baby Dumdum. I’ve even listened to them as they like to keep the windows open when they fight their terrible, cruel fights. Neither one drives or walks which doesn’t help the constantly brewing tension between the two. They use cabs or they don’t leave.

However, visitors come at all hours throughout the day and night, parking for only a few minutes while the driver runs inside to complete some type of transaction. Then, the driver usually slinks back to his vehicle with his head down, looking from the side of his eye for witnesses.

Garry, Ginny and their many visitors have yet to learn of the Neighborhood Watch Society of One.

Me.

Voyeur Extraordinaire.

I guess as long as they have visitors, they will have money for rent, and will remain our neighbors until someone rats out the “business” and the police arrive for what will almost certainly be a shootout showdown. I suppose my interest in neighbor watching/voyeurism will be temporarily renewed with the sirens flashing and guns firing.

Another set of neighbors will move in after Garry and Ginny are either arrested or taken to the hospital or morgue.

There is always next time to get it right.

Still, I miss Sweetey, Petey, and Baby Dumdum.

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Grocery Store Sushi

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The night after a weekend snowstorm is perhaps one of the best and worst of times to shop for groceries.

Generally, the shelves are picked clean of bread, meat, beer and potatoes (the usual Midwest fare), leaving only limp vegetables and over-priced granola for the unfortunate post-storm shopper. The positive side is that the aisles are usually just as empty as the shelves, a definite silver lining for any mildly anti-social person.

So this Monday, I popped into the grocery store for a few staples to get us through the week. While most of the store was creepily abandoned, there was a most surprising person standing angrily at the deli-counter. A Precious look-alike, if not the real Precious, stood with her chubby arms crossed holding her ground with a worker behind the counter.

Never one to pass up an opportunity to people watch, I rolled my cart towards the nearby cheese and sausage display. I pretended to examine a block of Munster while “Precious” remained in a heated argument with a small boy/man who appeared to be the sushi roller for the day.

“This time do it right,” she demanded and went on. “Just cream cheese, that’s it. That’s all I want.”

The young boy/man was baffled. This was not a restaurant or the type of store to make sushi to order. This was the wrong zip code for that type of grocery store service. He was simply under orders to make a certain number of several kinds of sushi to fill up the display case.

I risked a quick look at the counter, and it actually appeared that several pieces were missing from a container of sushi, now lying open in the neutral space between the two adversaries.

It is possible that in spite of the clear plastic container, she didn’t notice that various colored contents of each roll. She was then quite naturally shocked and disgusted to discover vegetables, seafood, and other unidentifiable contents in her mouth, when she only expected rice and cream cheese. Logically, she then had to eat another few pieces to make sure that this was not what she wanted. Each involuntarily eaten piece only increased her emotions and confirmed that she was tricked.
Now was the time of reckoning and she wanted this little boy/man to right this apparent wrong.

In an unexpected move, the clever boy/man nodded his head to the woman’s demands.

He said, “This is a very bad thing. I will get my manager.” He slipped through a swinging door into the back of the deli, never to be seen again.

Meanwhile, the Precious-look-alike waited and helped herself to a container of fried chicken which was her dues for suffering through the injustice of grocery store sushi.

I left humming the lyrics to an old song by Stephen Stills called, “Love the one you’re with.”

It just felt right.

Here’s a link to the song:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_the_One_You%27re_With
http://foodimentary.com/2012/04/19/origins-of-sushi/- interesting read on history of sushi
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushi

My neighbor’s keeper/active voyeur

spy

Every morning, I crack the blinds to sit on the couch with a bowl full of cereal to watch the neighbors. I might try to make it sound less creepy by saying that I’m keeping an eye on things for them, but it wouldn’t be true. To be quite honest, I’m not keeping an eye on things for them, I’m keeping an eye on them for my own entertainment.

They have quite the routine worked out between the two of them, which varies only if one of them is already gone. I can tell the order of expected events for the day by the cars parked in the driveway. If they are both home, the wife is the active one. She starts by tying the curtains back in the picture window, kicks the dog out, and sends her husband out to warm up the car. Shortly after that, she bustles out carrying a bag on both shoulders with a thermos of something in one hand and a baby carrier in her arms with what appears to be a bundle of blankets tucked inside of it. Although I can’t be certain, I have to guess that this is Baby Dum-Dum wrapped up and ready to go.

When it’s just the husband, the tried and true expression comes to mind that when the cats away the mice will play (or in this case, just the mouse). He usually emerges when my cereal is halfway gone, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes. It’s always the same old grubby green sweatshirt that he wears with the sleeves pulled over his knuckles and his thumbs shoved through holes when he lights up a cigarette and blows smoke rings into the cold air. I’m sure the wife smells the smoke on him, especially since he appears to only own one raggedy sweatshirt.

As I’m finishing up my cereal, he’s stamping out his butt on the concrete steps. He’s careful to pick it up and carry it off for disposal at a different location where his wife won’t find it. Effort counts for something, I used to think. At least he’s not a litter bug.

Then it snowed a few times and the routine changed. His car was gone every morning and his wife continued on as usual. Where has he gone? Is there a divorce in the works? He must have died or been arrested. There was a good deal of speculation from across the street that was quickly squelched out, like one of his secret smokes, when the truth was brought to light.

His car was parked in the tiny tool shed. It left one morning, completely ice and snow free while his wife remained in their gravel drive way, scraping away at her windshield while continuously checking in on young Dum-Dum, wrapped and ready to go.

What a chump. What a bunch of chumps. Yet, who am I to say anything as I rinse out my cereal bowl and wonder how often they peer through our blinds that open every morning at the same time as their curtains are pulled back.

“On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.”
― George Orwell, All Art is Propaganda: Critical Essays

A Small Drama

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Standing on tiptoes to peer through the barred window, two little people were spied sitting side by side on a wooden bench completely lip-locked.  Their feet dangled as they kissed without a concern about being caught even though they were at work.  The man’s stubby arm was wrapped protectively around the woman’s tiny shoulders.  Smoothing the hair back from her ear with his free hand, he leaned over and whispered something into her little ear.

The window fogged where the voyeur watched and had to be cleared with gloved fingertips.

Peering back through the window, the little woman had a shocked and angry look on her face.   The man leered at her with yellow eyes and a mouthful of crooked teeth.  With a surprising force, she slapped the smile from his face, hopped down from the bench and assumed her full height with pride before tottering off in her orthopedic shoes.

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