Living in a War Zone

Awake with the lightening sky, I look blearily at the clock on the nightstand. 5:32 it glows just as it stoically announced 4:29, 3:15, 2:30 each time another round of mortars went off. The dogs are curled up as close to the bed as they can get seeking the comfort of proximity to their peeps. They almost trust us to keep them safe from the chaos outside which began early yesterday evening.

It was the 3rd of July and in the Republic of Mentone, that means we haul out the BIG guns. Minor holidays like Martin Luther King Jr. day or Veteran’s Day are celebrated with the more modest types of almost “safe and sane” sparklers that are legal in less fire prone areas. In our area, Bic lighters are discouraged and possession of anything more entertaining is punishable by a fine. Not to be deterred, my scofflaw neighbors believe that New Years Eve is the penultimate, with the 4th of July being the pyrotechnic climax of the entire year.

Tonight, or even this afternoon, as deferred gratification is not the strong suit of this group of pyromaniacs, we will be surrounded by world class, military grade explosives that set off car alarms and drive pets mad with fear.

What screw is loose in the heads of these people who spend hundreds of dollars on something as ephemeral and potentially destructive as illegal fireworks? Why is it more entertaining to risk burning your neighbors’ house down than to watch the display put on at the local university, from the comfort of your front porch? Seriously, won’t someone please ‘splain it to me?

I guess I’ll see if the pot store is open today. I’m told they have a doggie CBD oil that takes the edge off the dogs’ anxiety.

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

A Fleeting Memory

The rumble-splash of the neighbor’s diving board conjures up a long-buried memory.

Our new neighbors are putting to good use the pool that the previous neighbors rarely used. Sometimes late at night, I hear the rumble-thwump of the board, bouncing on its spring, and the memory of my dad going for his nightly dip surfaces like a dream.

I was fourteen and awakening to the interest in boys that was to plague my life for the next fifty years. The local high school had a pool that was open to the public in the summer time and I walked the 2.3 miles to the pool, sometimes in triple digit heat and always in lung-searing smog, nearly every day. It was totally not cool to ride a bike, bikes were for kids and it was totally cool to go bare foot (these were the hippie-dippie days of the sixties). We developed tough, calloused feet as we scampered across the searing asphalt to the relative cool of the painted white lines of the crosswalks.

One day as I was walking by myself, a neighbor of my aunt’s (who lived just a block away from our house), slowed his car beside me and asked me if I wanted a ride. Even and that tender age, I recognized his intent and firmly declined his offer. He persisted longer than mere altruism would dictate, cementing my original opinion of his sleazy motives. I continued walking briskly and when I left the relative seclusion of the orange grove, and approached a more populated area, he moved on. I wasn’t unduly alarmed but I did mention it casually to my mom that Aunt Elaine’s friend’s husband had approached me. Later, I was nonplussed to learn that my aunt had told her friend about the incident and the woman said that I was a slut and was trying to seduce her husband. Ewww ick! He was at least 30!

Shortly after, my folks decided to put in a pool in our back yard. The kids in my neighborhood were thrilled. I was not. The primary attraction of the public pool was the selection of boys with whom I could flirt and sometimes get to give me a ride home.

But the pool provided a respite for my dad who otherwise spent his evenings in front of the TV watching The Joe Pine Show (the Rush Limbaugh of the 60s), The Dean Martin Show, The Danny Kay Show, etc. The pool needed to be brushed and skimmed every evening and after I was in bed, he would clean the pool, then strip naked and dive into the pool to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Needless to say, I do not peek through the fence when I hear the neighbor’s diving board at night.