Waking from a nap to find reassurance at the door

Having endured a grueling trip to Costco in order to return an unneeded printer, I decided to lie down on the sofa at 2 p.m. for a nap. My custom is to take off my walking shorts, place them on the nearby chair, and cover up to my chin with a fleece blanket.

I dozed for 20 minutes and woke up amazed from my dream that Lincoln, Nebraska, now has 775,000 inhabitants. (It’s less than 300,000.) Not feeling compelled to do much now that the day’s big task had been accomplished, I lay there daydreaming, looking at my phone, and thinking about the house’s dirty floors and windows and how it will take a medium effort from the local national guard regiment.

Then the doorbell rang. This almost never happens. Yesterday, while strolling around as is my custom while brushing my teeth, I strolled past the open front door, and there stood two young men in nice shirts and ties and a pouch slung back over the left hip of each.

“Did you ring the doorbell?”

“No, but I knocked,” said the one in the foreground who just happened to look a tad like Prince. “We’re here to talk about the deterioration of the family,” he said.

There were two obvious responses I could have made. I could have said that my father had just died four days earlier, so he was right about our family’s deterioration. Or I could have said that I live alone, more or less a hermit, in fact, who enjoys talking to his neighbors and has houseguests about once a month, so the deterioration of the family isn’t much of an issue for me.

Instead, I said, “Are you Jehovah’s Witnesses?” They nodded, so I said, “Good-bye.” I am ruthless with missionaries and their 19th-century marketing techniques.

This stab at the doorbell–it was probably my neighbor from across the street, about the only person who ever rings my bell besides deliverymen–left me with a quandary. Should I get up and put on my walking shorts? Or should I wrap the fleece around from butt to knees, like a wasp’s thorax, and waddle to the door? Because it was certain to be my neighbor, who has probably seen worse, I wrapped and waddled.

It was a blond-haired woman in her 60s. She was the neighborhood patrolwoman. The neighborhood patrol car parked and still running at the curb. Who wouldn’t volunteer their time in order to drive a boss Crown Victoria police car, prowling at 3 mph around the neighborhood?

“I just wanted to tell you your bedroom window is open.”

There was one obvious response I could have made. Yes, that’s to allow outside air into the dank recesses of the house.

Instead I said, “I know.”

“Oh,” she said. “It looked like no one was home. My first day back on the job.”

That means she’s a snowbird, probably from British Columbia because we get a lot of them.

Before I accidentally exposed myself, I may have been starting to close the door when she said, “I like what you did to your house while I was away.”

Presuming she was away during our scorching-searing summer, I said, “That was done a year and a half ago.” I painted the facade a coppery brown but left everything else the original Spanish white. “Maybe I should have gone all the way around.”

“No, I like it. And the plants,” she gestured to my doleful succulents in the two-foot strip between driveway and house.

IMG_7269I didn’t know what to say. It is hard to speak for succulents. They’re easy come, easy go, and probably would return only platitudes. I decided on action instead. To give her a thrill, I flipped the switch on the new Morris-style lanterns that I did install in May (along with a new garage door) while she was gone.

She did not respond with oohs and aahs as hoped. Maybe something had distracted the main part of her attention. By now, because naturally enough I had to waddle out into the driveway to check on the lamps, I was introducing my new attire to the neighborhood. Not wanting to be tomorrow night’s main topic on NBC Nightly News, I urged myself to go back inside. I was relieved that the patrolwoman didn’t pursue a full tour of the interior. Maybe next time she goes by, I’ll flag her down. After all, I do have some new Christmas decorations to show off.





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