Monday, August 04, 2014

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 124

The Time Mookie Met Mr. Leaves

When my wife and I moved into our home several years ago, we found it odd that most of our neighbors didn't come over to introduce themselves or welcome us to the neighborhood. We noticed that a majority of the people who lived around us were retired (or close to it) and didn't get out much, so we sort of figured that was part of it. If they did go outside, it was to pull their cars out of the garage and go to 3PM coffee with their posse of fellow retirees.

During the first month there were one or two who actually made the effort to come over and say hello when we were outside working in the yard, but that was about it. It seemed like everyone else just stared at us out of their houses or as they drove by on their way to get coffee. The lady that lived behind us (who was actually one of the first to greet us) had made a comment that everyone in the area was very friendly and watched out for everyone, but most just weren't very "neighborly."  I understood this to a point, because it's nice to not have people up in your business and not to know too much about anything. However it was creepy when people I hadn't even talked to would stare at me out their front windows while I was bent over picking up sticks in the yard.

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed by all of this too because I had always hoped my neighborhood would be like the one I grew up in, and this was NOTHING like that. When I was a kid, ALL of the neighbors would say hi when you went by, and you actually felt like people were looking out for you. My favorite was when all of the guys on the block would be out mowing their yards on Saturday afternoon, and then one would gesture that it was "time" and they'd all stop and have a beer. It was pretty obvious that was NOT going to happen in my neighborhood. It's not like I didn't stand out on the driveway and drink beer as if to let them know it was time for beer. I did...and I had no takers.

About two months after we had moved in, I was out raking the leaves in the yard when I saw an old guy come out of his house and start to make his way across the street in my direction. I stopped raking and took off my work gloves in anticipation of introducing myself and shaking the guy's hand. The guy gets up into my yard and gruffly says:

"What are you going to do with all these leaves?"

I was caught off-guard at his question as it wasn't your normal introductory conversation and I didn't know if he was serious. I replied with:

"Um, I'm going to rake them to the street and either burn them or take them to the dump."

His response was:
"Good. I have enough leaves in my yard and I don't need anymore."

Then he turned and WALKED AWAY.

I stood there dumbfounded for like 60 seconds. Did this guy - whose name I didn't know -  just walk all the way over here to inquire about my stupid leaves (most of which probably weren't even mine to begin with), give me shit and then walk away? What. The. Hell.

I walked up to the open kitchen window where my wife could see me from inside of the house and asked her if she had just seen/heard what happened.  She hadn't, and when I explained what had happened - she couldn't believe it either.

Due to this odd encounter, from that day forward - in lieu of knowing his real name - he became known by us as "Mr. Leaves.*"  Naturally by default, his wife became "Mrs. Leaves*" as well.  Needless to say, since that day I have NEVER felt badly about my leaves blowing in the direction of the Leaves' residence. In fact I usually laugh pretty hard about it.  Mr. Leaves actually died a few years after our little encounter, and I had no further conversations with him. The real funny part about that is that I didn't find out that he died until a few years AFTER he died. I have spoken with Mrs. Leaves (who is pleasant) a number of times since then, but I have never addressed the fact her deceased spouse was a complete jackass to me. She probably knows he was a jackass, so it just goes without saying.

As the people in the neighborhood have changed over the last few years (due to them dying or moving), the overall attitude really hasn't. Everyone more-or-less still keeps to themselves, and nobody really knows anybody's business. I'm kind of used to it now, but it's still kind of a bummer that everyone is a bit anti-social.  I do have to say that the staring out the window-thing has subsided as far as I can tell - so that is good.

Going forward, I've decided to try and do my part to make the neighborhood more social - by starting to drink beer on my driveway again during breaks from my yard work. Maybe the newer neighbors will take notice and want to join me. "Hey Martha, the guy across the yard is having a beer. That's cool.  I'm going to go join him." Deep down though, I know I could sit out there drinking all day until I pass out and no one would do anything - which is kind-of-okay too - except for being known as the neighborhood drunk.

At least I know Mr. Leaves won't be waking me up in my drunken stupor and bitching about my leaves blowing into his yard. Because if that happened I'd have to kick his ass.

(*) - Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent

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