Silly Me

Silly me. It was an honest mistake.

After lunch, the dog and I went for a short walk through the turgid summer heat native New Orleanians call ‘a bit cool for the season.’ Our efforts earned one of us a sheen of sweat and the other a drooling pant. I won’t say which one won which.

Our next door neighbor, lovingly referred to as “Crazy Shawn” since he is both crazy and Shawn, was outside working on his lawn. Or, for those familiar with Shawn’s house, his lack of a lawn. Shawn spent many years spraying Round-Up on his front yard until every blade of grass was sent to the great green fields in the sky.

Optimists who visit say beautiful things like, “He must be preparing a rock garden.”

He must. Without the rock or the garden.

Rain has eroded half-a-foot of soil from his front yard, weakening the foundation of his house, Crazy Shawn laid down tar paper to protect what was left.

Guests plagued by positivity say to us, “A tar paper garden. Doesn’t Gwenyth Paltrow highly recommend those?”

If she does, I applaud her critics’ collective restraint in their descriptions of dear Gwen.

So this afternoon, Shawn is working on his tar paper lawn, weeding away grass which has launched an attack from our yard on the quarter inch of dirt between his fence and the tar paper.

Shawn is muttering to himself.

As those who know Shawn are aware, Shawn’s mutterings are the flapping wings of a butterfly which eventually cause a tsunami halfway across the world. Only, in this case, it isn’t a tsunami we need fear. Shawn’s mutterings grow into 911 calls, stalking charges, and physical violence.

Reminds one of Wilson from Home Improvement, n’est pas? And just like Wilson, there are important fence related conflicts I don’t have time to delve into today.

As anyone on the street will tell you, it’s best to pass Shawn by when he’s muttering. They’ll tell you that then ignore their own advice — but that doesn’t make the advice any less valuable.

Do as they say, not as they do.

So I pass, ignoring the muttering mischief-maker, when one word catches my attention.

Renters.

I am a renter, could this muttering be about me? My natural sense of victimhood said, “Of course, why would he talk about anyone but you?”

And seeing as many of the neighbors have restraining orders against Shawn, there aren’t many people for him to talk about let alone to.

Then he paused. He nodded his head. He said, “Really? I can’t believe it,” while yanking up a tuft of grass and tossing it aside.

Silly me. It was an honest mistake. He was wearing a bluetooth device and talking to a friend.

A silly mistake that.

The dog and I passed through our front gate and she flopped down on the lawn. While she rolled around, I listened to Shawn go on about property values.

“And with such an expensive property!” he said, picking up unrooted clumps of grass and tossing them in a garbage can.

“Exactly. How do you handle it?” he asked, after a pause.

His friend must have some really awful renters. People destroying their property. Ruining the neighborhood. It’s unthinkable and, given this alternative, it makes me momentarily thankful to have Crazy Shawn as my neighbor instead of these reticent neer-do-wells.

Loaded up with grass, Shawn turns to drag the garbage can out to the street, giving me a clear view of his other ear.

The ear I assumed the bluetooth device was hung since is other ear was naked.

There was no bluetooth device.

No headphones.

No phone on speaker as he answers and asks questions about those… these… horrendous neighbors.

Silly me. It was an honest mistake.

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