The Characters In My Play

Bordering my property on one side is the second home to a construction company owner. Jim and Hazel are not there often, though caretakers come and go sometimes. It makes for serene quietness on that side. On my other property border is well . . . Dale. My sister christened him with the moniker Dale-Bob in a tandem hyphenated name combination of a previous neighbor of mine named Bob. Dale definitely shares some similar characteristics of Bob. Thus the name was created. Dale-Bob is always here. And, by here I mean coming over or making noise from over there. He drives reckless out of this private 10 mph street with a loud shit truck that wakes up people like a stack of dominoes falling as he roars past. He seems to do what he can to keep them all annoyed.

On the other side of Dale is Tom, a retired pharmacist and his retired nurse wife, Stevie (Stephanie). Tom hates Dale-Bob. Which, sounds like a sentence out of a  Dick and Jane book. My first introduction to Tom was spent listening to Tom regale me with stories of Dale-Bob. His disdain for our shared neighbor practically frothed out of his mouth. Pharmacist or not, a great first impression it was not.

Last week, when Dale-Bob shoved the county's cease and desist letter he had received into my hands for a read, I wondered which of these neighbors had turned him in. It feels a bit like Dallas or Falcon Crest in my neck of the woods [you younger folks may have to google those shows] - minus the sexy behaviors. Scandalous romping mischief might be present too, but I haven't been eye-witness to or been filled with those stories - at least for now anyway! Neighborhood drama is not my thing. There are characters and players, opinions and stories about a handful who live back in this edge-of-the-water place. It's pretty entertaining at times - a fictional novel hiding here I think.

I live in a very odd geographic location. Odder still is the cocktail of socio economic, education, and lifestyles right in my hood. Living on the water draws both the couture and the uncultured. There is nothing fair about both affluence and poverty. Both though share a space in humanity.

On the corner of this dead-end private road lives another Tom, a retired butcher turned waterman who commercially crabs and oysters. He displays all the crap necessary, and possibly unnecessary, related to baiting, crabbing and oystering strewn across his property. It is culminated in crab season by nightly bating of line sessions under a canopy in his muchly missing of gravel driveway of mud. Tom, who is also missing a few front teeth and cannot hear shit, talks  smack about Dale-Bob. His introduction to me was something like, "So, you bought next to Dale? Didn't check the neighborhood out well, huh!"

Carole, a retired elementary school teacher, lives alone across the street from me. She, and her husband-now deceased, owned a metal fabricating company, built there 30 years ago. She is about 5 feet tall, sweeter than honey, and still dyes her hair an unnatural shade of brown for a 73 year old. If need be, I could dead lift her with one hand behind my back. She brings me flowers, invites me for coffee [I don't go inside her house due to COVID, but she keeps asking.] and generally always tells me how great our property looks now that she can see it through the brush and crap we removed. She never rakes her leaves, has a driveway mostly consisting of rotting leaves and mud. She though never speaks ill of Dale-Bob.  Every so often, without being asked, Dale-Bob pays for a small load of gravel to fill the growing mud hole at the end of her driveway.  

Around the other bend is a retired professor from Georgetown. His name sounds like someone who has lived a department chaired and tenured life - Bernard. His property is granola nutty, artsy, interpretative, and whimsical. He also has a small cottage on his property that he will let anyone who wants to have a place to "write" come and get their creative on. It's his second home as well.

Toward the opposite end of the street is another professor, this one from George Washington University. He and his dog walk each other like a time piece keeps time twice a day no matter the weather. Doug's intellect is high in a category that my own intellect needs direct tutoring to even understand. It's something to do with experiments, water life, buoys, and travelling the globe for such efforts - I think anyway. I am a genius on things that can't always be fully quantified. He, on the other hand, is Mensa smart. Whatever his smarts does probably improves things related to energy and water. Mine, well . . . a mystery to even myself most days.

Back to Dale-Bob, the tree man and neighbor to my left. As Dale-Bob finished cleaning up from grinding out some old tree stumps of mine, he told me his own version of stories I've heard about him from the neighbors, he laughed at his version like a life of the party sort of a person does.  He began . . .  His 30 arrests, including some time in jail, started after he turned 30 and have spanned the past 24 years. He turned 54 last week and said he's kept his anger in control for the past 2 1/2 years. When I asked  if drugs or alcohol played a role in those arrests he said, "No ma'am. I see red and act on it." He calls me sweetheart in nearly every conversation though we were born the same year, can't hear well, owns a bit bull mix named Flash who constantly sneaks up behind me and generally unkeeps his property in a very very unwellish style.

I thought about all the characters in my living play in this strange place I find myself. It's not been my favorite place or period of time for a myriad of reasons. I thought about the fact that wherever I am that's where I am - with these people for some reason. I have always found people interesting, and as my mom said this week, "You always seem to find yourself with the most interesting people having the most interesting conversations."

"Dale," I said countering to his life story synopsis he had just finished, "You know God wants to be a part of your life, even when you see red. He wants to be in it all with you daily."  I looked at him, took it all in - his middle aged belly, his loud smoker's voice, the stuff the neighbors had said about him, the wearable life of manual labor, and a slew of bad choices under his belt. It made him human.

I was drawn to humanness, to imperfection. It always showed me there is room for change, a re-do, a refurbishment of sorts that was available though presently hidden. Human is the skin God made us to live in. I assured Dale there was nothing that God couldn't use, make whole or redeem in our humanity. I said it to myself as well.

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