Thursday, January 10, 2013

I had a terrible vision of Lucy crashing into Barbra Streisand's dressing room at the Americana and laying this brutal story on her.

I took a class at Columbia called Suburbia and Its Cultures, and while it was excellent and one of my favorite classes I took the whole four years, it was nowhere near as hilarious as the thing that happened on Monday night in my 'burb.

Our next-door neighbors, who've lived here for 25 years, are this family, the Whites:* Otto, Angie, and their youngest daughter, Ruth, who's about 19 (the two oldest White children are grown & out of the house). Angie is pleasant and neighborly (to us) but, unfortunately for the world, an evangelical nutter (she, um. apparently writes these "books"? with titles like "The Woman In The House" or something? yeahhhh ... ) who homeschooled all three of these kids; I've never met the older two, but Ruth is a very soft-bodied, soft-personalitied young lady of almost shocking unworldliness. Otto is a nice guy from whom, as it turns out in one of those small-world type coincidences, we happened to buy our hybrid automobile five years ago (and to whom we have now given our godless liberal money once again, in the form of purchasing another new hybrid automobile a couple of weeks ago).

So, with her last child "graduated" from "school," it seems like Angie's got some time on her hands, and she's gettin all het up for our neighborhood to get to know each other. I actually like this idea; I think it's a good thing to recognize your neighbors by sight, find out a couple names, exchange pleasantries, etc. So I go along with the newsletter (including providing its only non-White content so far), and I show up to the "dessert potluck" she organizes -- this is the happening from Monday night. It's at the home of another neighbor couple, 27 years in their house -- Middle Eastern artists with amaaaaazing Brazilian hardwood floors -- and draws representatives from about seven of our street's ~14 households (not bad for a first meetup).

We neighbors all stand around and chat for a bit, eating desserts and drinking; the hostess, the one other neighbor I've met, and I all drink wine, whereas everyone else sticks to coffee & tea. Most people are cool, but it becomes obvious pretty quickly that this one guy -- Man Talker -- is used to being Listened To about all things A Man Should Know. One of those conversational dominators who always has the answer and is kind of daring you to try to go toe-to-toe with him, like you even fucking care. Ugh.

Then we get to the main attraction, which is an appearance by a metropolitan police officer Angie apparently used to tutor when he was a teen. He shows up in full uniform, and he's pretty great -- pleasant, calm, down-to-earth, the kind of guy I appreciate being a cop. Angie launches right into "the reason we asked you to come," which was "the homeless encampments" at the creek nearby, and "all the crime they bring."

Now, y'all -- crime. CRIME. I'm from a small town where we used to leave the doors unlocked and the car keys in the car ... but I've lived in upper Manhattan in the 90s, and San Francisco, and London (briefly), and ... let me just say: These fucking people on this high-income, low-density white-ass block don't know a goddamn thing about crime. Or homeless people. The cop was very low-key and reasonable about this paranoid, not-so-borderline racist line of chatter -- he's all, yeah, ok, around here there's the occasional auto theft, auto burglary, home burglary, but not much of that even happens, and if it does, they're just lookin for money or things that're easy to steal and sell, they don't want to tangle with you, etc.

Angie and Man Talker weigh in about "those people," who are, naturally, from "broken homes" ("single mothers with five kids," mutters Man Talker, in pure code for "black and brown people") and "on drugs," and Angie's all "and isn't it true, Officer, that when the economy's bad like this -- and it's getting worse, of course** -- there's more of this type of crime?" which he's forced to concede that yes, in tough economic times people get more desperate, sure, but ... and an older lady says, "Well, what do you do if someone breaks in while you're home?" which is Man Talker's cue to saddle up on a favorite hobby horse, with full panniers of sarcastic verbal airquotes: "You have a duty to retreat. You have to call 911. You can't engage unless --"

The cop interrupts, "No, I mean, yes, call 911, but you know, if you're in fear for your life --"

Man Talker, seizing triumphantly upon what he believes will be catching the officer out on protocol: "California doesn't have a Castle Doctrine [because it's such a pussy commie liberal homo state where Men are not free to be Men]! Blah blah blah top THAT, policeboy!"

To which the cop replies, calmly, "It isn't necessary. Those are completely superfluous laws. In any state, including California, you are well within your rights to defend your life and your family from imminent threat with whatever weapon you have available." Total silence from Man Talker. Awesome.

I wanted to go up and high-five the guy, but I settled for writing "Castle Doctrine" in my notes and smirking to myself. The evening went better from there, although Man Talker went back to bloviating after the officer left (weasel). As a follow-up, Angie emailed everyone to basically order us to write a letter thanking the cop, which -- seriously, F you, lady. We all thanked him in person, individually, and I don't need you teachering me about writing a thank-you note. I am the fucking Empress of Thank You Notes. I'll write a thank-you note whenever I fucking feel like it -- you need to watch less Fox "News" and get out among people you don't personally homeschool every once in awhile.

Then I walked home with the cool neighbor, whose kids go to the schools my kids will eventually go to, and we talked Hawaii and how awesome it is that the middle school is an arts magnet school.

Suburbia, y'all. Suburbia.

*Not their real names.
**Which is code for, "Thanks, Obama!"

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Blogger francine said...

' need to watch less Fox "News" and get out among people you don't personally homeschool every once in awhile.' HAHAHAHAHAHA! So good. I look forward to reading the notes you take from these neighborhood meetings in contrast to the notes you take from your real job/work meetings!

5:50 PM  
Blogger Uncle Spike said...

I had to think about this one. At first I was aghast, thinking, "This sounds like Cowburg...not suburban Califor-ni-ay!" But given some time, I realized that I see this sort of thing in suburban Denver, too. Maybe not to this extent, but it could reasonably happen (and probably does quite often). Fear...such a powerful motivator.
But wow. You were there. I can't wait to read more of the cray-cray.

8:58 AM  

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