Now the Neighbors KNOW I'm Weird
I had a nice Christmas: I went down to Lisa’s sister’s house as planned, and we exchanged gifts and had a nice, quiet, large dinner, and then I came home. As I said, very nice.
However…. Did I mention I got a sword for Christmas? This is something of a tradition: for years, Lisa’s brother Bruce has given one or both of us a sword (or a knife, or some other reproduction weapon) for the holiday. (He’s a collector himself, and he understands the writerly desire to be able to play with some of the things we write about.) This year’s sword is a beauty: a 16th century cut-and-thrust sword, with scabbard. It’s essentially a rapier’s lower-class cousin, and the minute I unsheathed it I knew this was the sort of blade Philip Eslingen owned. He’d like something a little more gentlemanly for show, but this is the weapon he keeps for use.
It came wrapped in a blanket — looking rather like the sword wrapped by Eleanor in The Lion in Winter, for those of you familiar with the movie — but I brought it home unwrapped in the trunk of the car. As usual when I have a lot to carry, I parked (illegally) by the back door, put the emergency flashers on, and started to unload. I left the sword for last, and had just picked it up when the new neighbors came around the corner of their building.
They moved in less then two weeks ago, from someplace out of state. They are twenty-somethings, nice looking, pleasant kids that I’ve seen only in passing; if I’ve identified the right car as theirs, at least one of them is a grad student at UNH. And here I am, a hefty middle-aged woman in a fur-collared coat with a sword resting on her shoulder. I close the car trunk and smile politely. The girl hides her beer behind her back. (There’s nothing more calculated to make you feel old.) The boy — who I suspect has been sharing the beer, and is currently carrying their laundry — says, “Is that a sword?”
What does one say to that? A simple “yes,” while accurate, is likely to put one on the local police watch list; any more involved explanation is probably going to do the same, and end up embarrassing all of us. So….
“Yes,” I said. “I’m a collector.”
Which probably still puts me on the watch list, but hopefully didn’t frighten them too badly.
And is better than the answer I really wanted to give: “Doesn’t everybody get a new sword for Christmas?”