I'm sometimes amazed when I realize how many times I see really fucking scary men storming past my house, hurling obscenity laden threats to an unseen and fairly ill-defined enemy in a given season. At top volume. At all hours of the day. Men with a murderous glean in their terror narrowed eyes. These are men not to be reasoned with so, pray God, you're not at the end of wherever it is they're advancing towards. When these men shake my lawn, I beseech the divine for powers of invisibility or, failing that, the chameleon like ability to blend with my environment.
And, this is not counting the meth-stomper, well, not really. And the guy who rides that obviously stolen racing bike all around town who, in equal part, does yard work for and threatens a nearby neighbor. The guy who called me a fag after I threatened to call the cops and/or whip his ass. All while I was talking with some poor college intern collecting signatures for some environmental action or something. I think the dear thought she was going to die on my porch.
Also excluded from that list are the neighborhood disabled wanderers. The deaf Vietnamese guy who handed me an folded piece of paper with scratchings about the symbolic nature of U.S. coins. Or the guy in the 49's cap who, regardless of the hour, asks me for a beer or money for beer. The guy we're not sure if he's an aging hipster or lives in a group home. Or the guy who stroked Michelle's hair or his friend with the broken glasses. Not the alcoholic paranoia schizophrenic drinking whatever poison from that plastic cup. Rumor has it he was some rich kid's son who fried his brain during the 70's.
Of course, I could be thinking of Taxi or was that Cuckoo's Nest?
The autistic kid who does countless loops around the shops on Montgomery. Or, white hair/black glasses/white shirt/blue trousers/black shoe guy. I'm not even referring to the guy in the custom made Pslams (can't remember the number, but it's a pretty random Pslam) cut-off shirt in the summer and sweatshirt for the winter. He power walks up up my street to a busy corner every Sunday just in time for church, which was across the street, to let out. Then, he shouts "EVERY DAY, FOR SIXTEEN YEARS" while holding a professionally made two sided sign (Side 1: Cruel and Unusual since 1983 Side 2: Some noise about being monitored by an unseen and unidentified enemy.) Rumor has it he's a Metro bus ride, so that would make sense. Michelle, bless her, tried talking with him once. Rather than killing her, he completely ignored her, thankfully.
None of those guys scares me any. Well, the meth dude does, a lot, but the rest are just bits of neighborhood charm. Having grown up in a town where decorum was preferred, it's still a novelty to live in a community that's a bit rough around the edges. And I'll continue to believe that until I get stabbed in the throat with a broken bottle by some guy who's path I cross. That thought has never bugged me but it is right now.
It played out like this: I was coming off a really disheartening visit with my shrink. Lump in throat that sticks around kind of visit. I needed to get out of my head. Logging on, checking email, syncing my iPod when, over the music which was pretty loud, I hear screaming. Screaming different than the packs of teens trying to talk over each other. This was clipped with menace. "Don't you fucking think it," the voice raged. Ropes snaked through his arms which pushed the nothingness which served to slow him.
He is across the street and I sheltered in a darkened room behind locked doors. Protected by an antique pistol with no bullets and 9-11 only four keystrokes away. Yet, in spite of all that security, his mere presence is disquieted me. He might as well be in the same rooms as me. His glare fixed on me. I'd be a goner. None of this "go for the throat" nonsense. No sweep of the leg nor ancient Louisville slugger is going to stop him. Hell, a couple rounds from your empty .44 probably would bug him for however long it would take him to notice that he's bleeding out. That could take a while and, whatever he's going to do to me, won't take long.
So, the answer is what? I love my community, most everything about it. The spirit, dining options, the fact that I can easily walk back from three good bars and a record store, Pleasant Ridge is tops. Our house is great even with all the crap we've had to and will have to do to keep it looking somewhat presentable. In the eleven years we've lived here, we and our house are settling in a bit.
Which is why, when I drive or walk up and down my street, I get nervous seeing the homes sitting vacant for years or in foreclosure. There was a sign for a house six or seven down from me offering $37,500. If that was in another neighborhood or even another street, I'd laugh and threaten to dip into our savings so I could have a club house. I soothe myself by repeating "it's just the economy" over and over until I almost believe it.
It's conflicting; that's the first word to come to mind. Those random furious men of whom I am so scared amplify my neighborhood's issues and make them seem less manageable than they really are. We're not as cloistered as I want to believe, but, really, where is a place that is? My curse is that I have very little tolerance for artificially created environments. It's why I don't really like Disney, cruise ships or places like Sandals. I could live in a walled community, but that that's just a facade. A better neighborhood would be fine, but weird shit still finds its way there.
In the meantime, I'll do what I usually do in these situations: ride it out and learn to be as inconspicuous as possible.