I spent my high school years living in small town America, and on a smaller scale, the “better” side of town. When I now watch suburban dramas like Desperate Housewives, I think back to where I used to live, my parent’s street, and only imagine what special brands of crazy lurks beyond the surrounding adobe coloring, the lawn that is just so, and the immaculately cleaned cars. And then I wonder about the times when it spills out onto the streets.
I helped sell my Dad’s truck yesterday, leaving be what that means, I did resolve a longtime mystery. After having the truck parked next to a bigger street overnight, around 10 o’clock the next morning we got a flurry of calls.
Driving out there, my Mom and I seal the deal with a fresh-faced boy, too clean to be a cowboy, yet with too much grit to be a jock. His very first vehicle purchase as he heads into high school, accompanied with his mother and his father, a county sheriff deputy.
As we make the arrangements for payment, the boy is to follow us to our house after he gets a deposit for the truck from the bank. The deputy pulls out a notepad from the beige pocket below his badge. I quickly write down the address to the house and hand it back to him. His eyes widen as he looks at my writing on the sheet.
“Oh that street,” he says with a bit of amusement and disdain. “Us cops do know that street. That’s the street we had to keep arresting that old, naked lady.”
My Mom and I flick our heads toward each other and murmur, “Ahhhh…ha!”
My bedroom used to face the street. Both my mother and I share the genetic inclination to be the typical old, neighborhood woman leaning out the window watching people, resting our elbows on ratty pillows. American decorum demands we be more discreet with our nosiness.
“Mom! Cops! Arresting someone!” I would yell, my index finger and thumb pulling apart the blinds and placing one eye into position, and my Mom would pounce into the room for updates and a chance to stick her eye out onto the street.
On the end of the cul-de-sac, we would watch, several separate instances over several years, as a little curly and grey haired dame in either pink bathrobes or worn T-shirts and clean denims would be carted away to the pokey. My Mom and I would muse her offenses. Drunk. Domestic violence. Chasing denizens of our sleepy neighborhood with a poker. My dad ventured a thought to an asylum escapee.
“We get calls with complaints with her walking around nekkid,” said the deputy, leaning back and starting to laugh, “We’d hear over the radio,” and he mimicked grabbing his radio on his hip, “That there was a call out for that street and you’d hear everyone else quickly jump on and say, ‘Oh, gosh, I’ve got traffic’ or ‘I’m, er, responding to a call..’”
My Mom and I start to laugh and he continues on with, “And there ain’t nothing there you want to see and you’re like, Lady, you’ve got to cover yourself.”
Most of the time our hobbyist voyeurism never really pays off with an actual story. I doubt the writers for Desperate Housewives would favor a naked old lady sub-plot, but maybe I should get on that.