A Happy Fourth of July
I enjoy the neighborhood where I live. It’s a nice, reasonably quiet place less than ten minutes’ walk from downtown, inhabited by an interesting bunch of people, dogs, cats, and lots and lots of squirrels. Because I’m now the morning dog-walker, I’ve gotten to know a lot of these folks at least by sight (and many of the dogs by name), and I’ve started to notice little things.
Like the fact that the goth girl down the street has broken her arm. (Yes, I know I should call her a goth woman. But she is 20 years younger than I am, and anyway the alliteration is better.) The first time I saw this, she was coming home from the doctor wearing a bright blue sling. The following morning, the sling was black. She rocks.
The neighborhood is also close enough to the park where the town fireworks are set off that I can watch all the displays from the front porch. This was actually something Lisa and I jokingly told our realtor when we were looking for a house: we wanted to be able to walk to a bank and a grocery store, and we wanted to see the fireworks. Amazingly, we got all of what we wanted.
So for the last fourteen years, we’ve spent the Third of July (when our town has its fireworks for the Fourth) sitting on the front steps swatting mosquitoes, oohing and ahhing at the colored lights while the dog barks insanely inside, and once in a while making our presence known to a drunk who thinks the rhododendron provides enough privacy for him to relieve himself. Usually there are more mosquitoes than drunks, but not this year. For some reason, there seemed to be a lot more tipsy people — fewer families, even though the display was at the same time as in previous years, and more young adults who were visibly unsteady. I even wondered if I was just more aware of them because I was by myself this year (and not drinking) but the neighbors on either side agreed: it was a heavy-drinking kind of night.
But not a bad humored one. There weren’t any fights on the street, no shouting (except cheers for the fireworks), not even anybody peeing in the shrubbery. No, this year’s drunks had a sense of humor. I took the dog out on the morning of the Fourth and, as usual, we passed the house of the Neighbors Who Decorate. They decorate their porches for every season and holiday, and this Fourth they’d outdone themselves. They had bunting and flags and sprays of red-white-and-blue tinsel that looked like fireworks, and to top it all off they had a gigantic stuffed Scooby-Doo attached to the top porch, with red-white-and-blue leis around his neck and an Uncle Sam top hat. However, as the dog and I approached, it was obvious Scooby had gone missing. I looked up, saw the Neighbors Who Decorate standing on their upper porch giggling, and before I could ask, they pointed to the driveway.
Someone had very carefully untied Scooby from the porch and set him — unharmed, though his top hat was somewhat askew — on top of another neighbor’s SUV.
Nothing else was touched, not a stitch of bunting or a strand of tinsel.
The Neighbors Who Decorate were going to leave him there until the SUV’s owner had a chance to see.
I like my neighborhood.