So I’m minding my own business (really), just doing some laundry, staring out the window as I fold some T-shirts, and I see this woman get out of the car inside my neighbor’s garage. She’s definitely not my neighbor. And she’s too old to be a girlfriend for the teen boy who lives there. She might possibly be a niece or an aunt or something. … But then I see the man-of-the-house get out of the car, and he puts his arm around her. Hmmm. … I move closer to the window. I recall a few months ago seeing the woman-of-the-house leaving with a man I didn’t recognize, too. … They were kind of laughing together, running down the porch steps to a sports car parked in front of the house. But I thought maybe it was her brother or something. I wasn’t sure. And now, this … So what’s going on? Swingers’ parties? Divorce? Are they all living there? Are they sharing the house and bringing respective dates? I press my face closer to the window … I’m fascinated. …
This all makes me think, though, about my across-the-street neighbor when I was growing up: Marge. She was one of those neighbors who knew everyone, and who knew everyone’s business. She would come across the street at least once a day and walk inside the door, yelling “yoo-hoo” through the entry way, and my mom would roll her eyes at me. My mom finally had to start locking the door when she mopped the entryway, or else we’d have Marge’s footprints all over the tile.
Marge would pull up a barstool and lay her cigarettes on the countertop. My mom had a little Goodyear tire ashtray that we used only for such situations. Marge would sit there for hours, smoking her cigarettes, looking over the counter while my mom was making dinner, and fill my mom in on all the gossip of the neighborhood. I don’t know how she knew it all – she must’ve walked around all morning and gathered her intel, then came directly to my mom’s to unload. She had stories about who’s son was getting arrested, who was probably cheating on whom. Sometimes she talked about television shows like Merv Griffen and Dinah Shore.
Marge was often a good neighbor, too, though – I should mention that. Since my mom didn’t drive, Marge became our “emergency” ride in her station wagon. She wisked us all to the hospital when my brother broke his arm in the back yard, and sometimes she would run my mom up to the grocery store if my mom needed milk for a macaroni and cheese dish that she was halfway through. Marge also took us all to the bowling alley in the summertime.
Anyway, I imagine everyone has a neighbor like this at some point in their lives – the one with the perm, who is the “Neighborhood Watch” at no one’s suggestion. The one who knows all about everyone and knows everything first, like who is getting a divorce or who is getting out of a car in a garage that doesn’t belong to her … and … ahem … I mean … hmmm … maybe I should just focus on folding the T-shirts.
Did you have a Marge growing up? Do you have one in your neighborhood now?