COVID-19 Update: Neighbors
Sometimes you forget how long it’s been since you had a normal conversation with a stranger. I used to have them all the time.
Until yesterday anyway.
I really should have added “and that’s how I like it” after my “Nope” to give you some perspective on how I felt when I saw a new neighbor barreling towards me. We were on the same side of the street and a conversation seemed inevitable.
All my fault really. I’d forgotten my mask. If I’d been wearing it as I usually do on my jaunts around the subdivision I’d have been safe.
Because I wear a full mask. A children’s Halloween mask. Casper the friendly ghost, except I’ve written the word NO on the forehead. It’s my Lance the unfriendly neighbor mask.
But I’d forgotten all about the damn COVID crap as I headed out and the next thing I know I was coming to halt in front of a smiling woman, bracing myself for the awkward few minutes that no doubt lay ahead.
She was well into her third sentence before I realized I should have been listening. Something about a buzzing noise. Something about something hitting her on the head and hurting more than she’d expected.
An odd conversation starter to be sure and I had to scramble to catch up.
“Hmmmmm…. yeah” I started off. So far so good.
“I’m not sure how far it had fallen” she said.
Because I didn’t have the heart to tell her I wasn’t listening to her story when she disclosed exactly what it was that fell on her head I was a bit flummoxed.
“Yeah, that gravity… yep” I offered as a reply.
She increased the diameter of her smile until I could see new teeth that had previous not been on display.
Feeling I should contribute something I said “It’s that damn terminal velocity. If it had been falling long enough it hit your head at 122 miles per hour.”
“Really?” she asked, her head tilting slightly like my dog does when I interrupt her licking herself.
“No wonder it hurt!” she finally added. “Anything hitting your head at that speed would leave a mark.”
Finally she said something that piqued my curiosity. It was the way she said “Anything.” Such certainty. Such pomposity.
“A roll of toilet paper?” I inquired.
The teeth that until recently had been tucked away behind her lips returned to a tucked state.
“Even if it fell from space” I half-asked, half-stated, trying to figure it out in my head. “If it fell from too high up it would burn up in reentry. I imagine whatever fat kid happened to be looking through his telescope would really be puzzled by that. Make a wish fatty.”
I laughed. She didn’t.
Don’t ask me why it had to be a fat kid. I hoped she didn’t have a fat kid at home waiting for her. Maybe it was my subconscious missing my Halloween mask, but I immediately thought of a sky filled with flaming rolls of toilet paper raining down. The ultimate cosmic TPing.
She tried to change to topic.
“So how are you doing through all this self-isolation?” she asked.
Maybe it was all the talk about toilet paper, but I immediately thought I’d open up and share.
“They should have warned everybody that the toilet paper shortage was only going to be temporary” I said with exaggerated anger.
She looked at me, waiting for me to finish the thought. I thought the thought was finished but if she really needed me to finish I didn’t want to disappoint.
“The thing is, when it first started there was that big run on toilet paper. Everybody said there were going to be shortages and we’d all end up using newspaper and leaves so I went out and bought as much as I could get my hands on.”
At this point I could barely see her front two teeth.
“The worst part was that I bought anything I could, including that budget toilet paper. Some of it is so thin you need to use a whole handful.” I held my fist aloft to illustrate just how much I was talking about.
“Ironic that the quality is shitty when you consider what it’s used for. And then there’s the stuff that you can use to sand your deck with. Rough business.”
I looked up at the clear blue sky, to indicate what a delightful evening I thought it was. As if on cue, a light breeze whipped through my hair. I have to admit I momentarily felt a bit charming.
“Now I have three rolls of toilet paper by the toilet and every session I have to decide if I’m up to using a bargain brand. Like life isn’t complicated enough…”
She nodded her agreement. Sort of. Agreement… bewilderment… they look so similar.
“Usually I use the good stuff in the morning. Start the day off right. It’s the afternoons that I typically feel my anus is up to the challenge and I’ll mix in a bit of the coarser variety.”
It was right then that I realized I was enjoying talking to someone else. After all the trepidation it turns out I actually miss dialogue with other living, breathing people.
She excused herself and began her walk home. I was sad to see her go. “Watch out for that falling TP!” I yelled cheerfully after her.
I wonder what hit her head. Probably a dragonfly.
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