Friday, February 18, 2005

Different strokes...

Have you ever wondered what your neighbor does all day? I have. Just the curious side of me I guess but I've been distracted at times by my neighbor's activities... or should I say lack thereof. He sits in his garage at all times of the day and night with the garage door open... sits at the far end of the garage in the dark. I'm not sure what he's doing nor is it really any of my business but it bothers the Hell out of me...

He and his wife live next door to us so it's not like he's sitting in his garage watching everything we do in our house (than God!!! Think of the videos he could have by now!). They're an older couple. He's probably in his 70's and she's got to be in her 60's. He's retired and she's still working for the government somewhere. He (Rod) evidently loves to collect things. He's got a collection of automobiles that he buys and sells throughout the year... nice vehicles... cadillacs, pickups, SUV's, sedans. All different types, colors, makes and models.

Shortly after we moved in he came over to the house to welcome us to the neighborhood. J (my wife) is of Finnish and Irish descent so she's very attractive and well endowed. Rod asked me if "she" was my wife. I told him she was and he said "thank God, I was hoping she was. She's beautiful". I thanked him and wondered at the time just exactly what he meant by that, noting he couldn't seem to take his eyes off of her or her bosom. I never asked him... just took it as an old man whose day was made watching J carry things into the house time and time again... you know, provide him some eye candy while she worked on moving in. I mean, she is a good looker and was even better looking back then.

So back to Rod. While we were chatting that day I took advantage of an opportunity to get to know my neighbor a bit more. I found out he was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, that he flew helicopters for the Fish and Wildlife service after he got out of the Army and that he still had some "racial hangups" when it came to Asians... primarily Vietnamese and Cambodians... go figure, a Vietnam vet with a hangup.

The neighborhood is full of mixed couples... Asian women married to caucasian, black or Phillipino men. The people we bought our house from were a mixed couple... he's caucasian, she's Korean... a tall, mean, unfriendly Korean (I don't like her and at the time, felt sorry for him). I also learned from neighbor Rod that the couple who lived here before the folks who sold us the house were a mixed couple too... he was German and she was Korean.

Putting two and two together I figured neighbor Rod's dislike for Asians played into his sitting in the garage with the garage door open at all times of day and night. Also, I think this might have been the meaning behind the remark regarding my wife. Nevertheless, my curiousity was still a bit unsatisfied.

Finally, in August after we got back from burying J's mother in Arizona I saw him in the garage and went over to chat with him... to let him know my mother in law had passed away and wouldn't be around anymore (she lived with us until she died). I announced myself as I approached his opened garage door, unsure how I'd be received. I caught the smell of cigar smoke. The garage was dark but I could see his silhouette in the far back corner, sitting on a chair next to some shelves.

"Rod. Rod. It's me, D" I announced.

"Hey, come on in" I heard him say.

My opportunity! I walked through the opening into the garage's dark chamber. Road was sitting in a chair surrounded by stereo equipment with a Swisher Sweet stuck in his mouth. Kind of an "Apocalypse Now" type setting... a Marlon Brando type scene. He had a set of headphones sitting on the shelf next to him and a coffee cup in his right hand.

"Hi Rod. I thought I'd let you know my mother in law passed away last week and we buried her in Arizona. We just got back". I approached him as I spoke... watching his hands and eyes. Still unsure of how I'd be received.

"Aw, that's too bad. I'm sorry. I thought something was up with all of the activity over the past month. Here D, have a seat" he patted on the tall stool next to him.

I sat down.

"Want a Swisher?" he offered one up out of the box.

"Nah. Just wanted to chat a bit... let you know what was happening. Thanks though"

As I fidgeted to find a comfortable spot on the stool Rod told me "Yeah, I appreciate it. I want to let you know the missus and I really appreciate you guys as neighbors. You honk all of the time and you keep to yourselves. We appreciate that."

He's right, I do honk everytime I drive by. I know he's somewhere in that garage by himself huddled up under a blanket on the cold days or sitting in front of a fan on the hot ones. We also do "keep to ourselves". We don't like pushy neighbors. We don't really get involved with them so they won't feel that "door is open."

"Well we appreciate being here. You two are pretty damned good neighbors yourself" They really were... never really poked around or complained about anything to us. Even when I was digging up the septic's drainfields to repair them (another story) they never complained about the smells or the noise of the activity coming from the house next to them.

We chatted quite awhile, Rod and I in that dark garage. I learned that he listens to classical music... Bach, Beethoven, etc. I learned he was shot down a couple of times in Vietnam, that he had to land his helicopter in a very remote area up in the North Cascades of Washington State after the rotor had "iced up". I learned that it took a week for the search and rescue folks to find him. I learned a lot about Rod and "the missus" that day. I learned a lot about the neighborhood... his hobby of collecting cars, the reason he has gravel rather than grass in his front yard, his plum tree that hangs over our fence... a lot.

Rod's a unique individual. He's done a lot and is a content, though peculiar man.

After that little meeting with Rod I felt a bit more "at ease". My curiousity was a bit more satisfied. I look at Rod differently now. He's his own man with his own haunts. He does what he wants when he wants... mostly, sitting in his dark garage looking out at the world. Drifting back in time to the helicopter, the small arms fire from the ground below, the icing of the rotor.

Rod seems harmless enough and yes I was right he does have an obvious aversion to Asians though he keeps it in "check". I don't agree with it but then again, I don't have to. He's not harming anyone with his secret prejudice. I imagine there's plenty of Asians out there who have aversions to helicopter pilots too.

Rod's a good neighbor. So is "the missus". They're a peculiar couple with their own peculiar quirks... but then again, aren't we all?

When I leave the house each day I look towards his garage. I know he's in there sitting in that chair, coffee cup in hand, listening to his classical music and smoking a Swisher. Even though I can't always see him I know he's there. By habit, as I pass his house my hand hits the car horn and I smile... knowing he's seeing and hearing everything he can.

Rod's safe... and he loves to watch my wife's breasts. I can only thank the good Lord that he doesn't sit out on the back porch... he'd certainly get an eyeful.



Mary said... left a post on my blog this morning. Thanks for the comment

Anonymous Midwest Girl said...

Oh, wow, neighbors. They are weird creatures, aren't they?

My across-the-street neighbor washes his car every day. Sometimes several times a day.

My next door neighbor hates us. I think it's because he - gulp - saw us drink beer on our deck. He'll ask you how you're doing, and if you say "Fine, yourself?", he responds "Great! I've been saved!"

The neighbors on the other side have a full-sized riding mower in their back yard - despite the fact the yard is about 20 feet by 20 feet with several trees.

At least we're normal.


Anonymous said...

Ya think yer normal do ya hah missy? Well: yer not! Yera pervert! I know cos ah've been SAAAAAAVED!!!