Wednesday, November 18, 2015
DEPENDING ON THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS
Since like poor Blanch DuBois I am now depending on the kindness of strangers, I am currently living in Stepford. As in wives. Here the elderly man across the road inspects his lawn for hours. I have always been opposed to lawns. Monoculture, environmentally disastrous, two dimensional. Don't get me started. The houses are all different and yet so thematically similar it is hard to distinguish them and I find myself consciously finding points of identification. Wild things, or even wildish things, do not survive here. It was days before I saw a cat. The hawk flying overhead finds itself mysteriously turned into a Maltese terrier and crashing to the ground.. Here the garages are huge and the dogs are tiny. I am the worst thing around. What is it about me that lowers property values by my mere presence?
It was about 11 am on a Sunday when my neighbour crossed the road approached me. He was wearing a dark blue suit and a yellow spotted bow tie, possibly home from church, so his dress sense was perhaps forgivable.* He introduced himself by name and said he had 'just a friendly request'. What is it about friendly requests? There is always some incipient threat. This is the friendly request. The next request might not be so friendly. It might not even be a request, but more of a demand. This, motherfuckers, is how wars start. So naturally I did not shake his proffered hand, nor did I give him my name, in case it may be used as evidence against me.
This was his friendly request. I park my very ordinary non cop magnet in fact painfully nondescript car outside the house on the street, as you do. He wanted me to move it. He said that when his wife brings her four wheel drive out of the garage the turn into the street is too tight for her, because my car is in the way. He suggested he park my car a little further up the street, and waved his arm to indicate this. Just up there a bit, you know, not so far really.
There were several things I did not say. I did not say, your wife's vehicle is not a real four wheel drive, it is a shiny red wankmobile incapable of genuine off roading. If she cannot turn into the street because there is something of reasonable size parked on the other side of it, perhaps she should drive something a little less ostentatious like, say, a fricken Lexus. I did not say that perhaps she could raise the issue with me herself, because if I said that I might undermine his sense of manhood and being in control of all the shit. And because perhaps the poor woman is scared of me. Or scared of him. Heaven knows, despite their immaculate lawn and the fact that he can spend ten minutes wiping a speck off the eponymous vehicle, they NEVER OPEN THEIR CURTAINS. So their poor kiddywinks are raised in darkness, and presumably they have something terrible to hide. So having compassion, I pointedly, so pointedly, did not comment on his truly desperate tie. I did not offer to spit on his Beamer, because I know he loves it so and I am not cruel. Instead, I said I would consider it.
Well, I did consider it, and I now park a little further up so I am out of the way. As you can see above, I had many uncharitable and unworthy thoughts and I am afraid I could easily find this man risible and pathetic. I am not here long and probably will not get to know him. I resort to the broadest stereotypes in order to manage my annoyance. I am in my way as high handed as he is.
There is a lot to be said about developing the softer virtues such as mercy and love for the sake of ourselves, not for the sakes of the people around us who may or may not deserve it. I am beginning to work on a strange idea about equality here. I am not this man's equal. I am below him. In terms of social class I am certainly below him. I have also put myself below him by serving his purpose, and by offering him consideration freely. I am also potentially above him, because I have not engaged in a pissing contest, and I have stopped judging and stereotyping him.
The picture above, by the way, is from the movie Edward Scissorhands. Of course the suburb in that movie was a parody, and the suburb I live in is not like that. It has more beige.
*But not really.