“Did you see that?” I asked Tom as we were driving around a few weeks ago.
“A woman was sitting on her porch with no top on. No top and no bra. Just shorts. I swear it.”
“Old or young?” he asked sort of wistfully.
“Young. She was sitting on a chair on the front porch with her dog. She looked sleepy or hungover or something. There must be something wrong with her.”
Tom sighed, obviously disappointed that this Kodak moment had been wasted on the likes of me.
“Go on. Drive around the block. I don’t care,” I told him. And I truly didn’t. My Penthouse centerfold days are long behind me. Okay, okay, I never had Penthouse centerfold days, but if I had, I’d be retired by now. Anyway, he drove optimistically around the block, but when we came back to the house on the hill, the young woman was gone.
“Sorry,” I said, rather insincerely. Because the fact of the matter is, this kind of stuff is just not that unusual around here. The drama in this area is so pervasive, someone should be walking around with an armload of Oscars, handing them out on a daily basis. I’m sure there will be another topless woman in Tom’s future, just like there was the masturbating woman he saw at the post office a few months ago. That one broke his heart.
“We all just stood around and pretended she wasn’t doing it,” Tom told me. “It was so sad.” It sounded sad, too. The woman was out of her mind, and was asking confused questions of the postal worker at the counter, none of which had anything to do with the U.S. mail.
All of this came to mind earlier today, when I walked out of Walgreen’s. On the walk to my car, which took all of thirty seconds, I saw the following:
- A woman who appeared to be in her sixties was yelling at the wind, or God, or the ghost of her dead husband Floyd, I guess. There was no one standing in the direction that she was shouting.
- A humongously round man who was trying to figure out what to do with this toddler, who was screeching at the top of her pink-shirted lungs. The poor fellow was immobilized; he was carrying a big satchel, and couldn’t pick up the kid. Every once in a while he’d try to budge her by pulling her up by her arm, but she wasn’t buying it, so he sort of dragged her a few inches, let her sit and screech, then repeated the process over and over. I figure they should reach their destination some time tomorrow afternoon.
- Four women standing under a tree next to a convenience store, fighting. There were two main fighters, a pretty young black woman and a harsh-looking middle-aged white woman who sported short, crayon yellow hair and a big white t-shirt. The black woman was on a tirade– I don’t know what the other woman did, but it seemed that the general consensus was that she had this speech coming to her. The young woman screeched and ranted while the others softly chimed in and nodded their agreement. The older woman was agitated– “I done told you I was sorry,” she yelled, puffing on a cigarette.” She wasn’t going to be let off so easily.
“Well you shouldn’t have done it in the first place!” The other woman screamed. She was angry, I tell you.
Whew! I got into my car. I didn’t even want to see what else was going on around me.
And the Oscar goes to…hell, I don’t know. How does all of this happen? I’m just telling you about this one little space and time, but it goes on constantly– it seems that when the weather’s pretty, the streets are packed with people, and you can see their relationships playing out in living color — some are holding hands, some are making deals, some are talking to themselves or stripping, riding bikes, or walking big dogs. Others are just being neighborly, and some are wearing boxing gloves. Sometimes there’s gunfire.
It’s not all of Dayton– the closer you drive to suburbia (not that suburbia is all that appealing either), the calmer things are, but this area that I’m living in gets a little insane. It’s crazy and colorful, and often sad and scary. I wish I were a super hero. “Never fear–Dayton Girl is here!” Of course, I’d be built a lot like the woman pictured above, and blond to boot. I’d fly around the city, handing topless women shirts, conversing with lonely ladies who talk to themselves, helping fat guys calm their toddlers, busting up fights, and hypnotizing people into believing the whole “hugs, not drugs” thing. Maybe something less shmaltzy. “Hacky sack–not crack.”
I don’t imagine that the antics that go on in this area are necessarily that much crazier than what goes on behind closed doors in many houses in the burbs. Maybe it’s the fact that the houses are smaller around here that so much of the drama goes on outdoors. Maybe this unnerves me so much because I’m from the south, where people tend to keep their alcoholic tirades genteel and air their dirty laundry in their own back yards. In whispers.
There are good aspects to this town and good people in this neighborhood. I’m making new discoveries and meeting some great people. I plan to write about some of this in my next post or two. I truly don’t mean to whine or complain. It’s just that when I see some of this stuff, I don’t know what to do with it yet. I’m learning, but in the meantime, I’m dumping it here. Sorry, you poor readers.
I’ve just never lived in a place like this.