Michelle's neighbors have boundary issues, and she just wants to weed her flowerbed.
It was not until she had moved from the city into her house in a neighborhood populated with odd, yet well-meaning people that Michelle ever questioned her affection for her fellow man. In the city, she had become accustomed to polite smiles and nods sometimes accompanied by, “Hello,” or, “How are you?” In the five years she lived in the city, Michelle could not recall a single neighbor’s name or specific detail about their lives. Instead, her memories were of the old woman with the ladybug umbrella, the couple from a foreign country who always regarded her with suspicion whenever their paths crossed, or the man who wore sunglasses even when clouds hid the sun or had set.
Michelle had lived in her house approximately six hours when the first neighbor dropped by. Sherry was a dumpy, dark haired woman whose eyes darted all around the room while she talked about how wonderfully full of men the neighborhood was, and quizzed Michelle on her history, specifically her romantic history. When Michelle told her that she separated from a serious boyfriend not too long ago, Sherry’s eyes stopped concentrating on something behind Michelle's head, widened and snapped to attention, focusing on Michelle's face.
“Really?!" she gushed, "That’s such a shame. Do you think you might be looking to date cause I know some really great places to meet men, and we could go together.”
“I don’t know…maybe sometime,” the energy she was picking up from Sherry perplexed Michelle.
“Oh my God! That’s great!” Sherry’s smile was wide, and her eyes were on the move again, “I can’t go by myself; now, I can just tell my husband we’re having girls’ night, and we can go land us some studs!”
Over the course of the next few days, Michelle became acquainted with more of her neighbors as they stopped by at unpredictable intervals. Clay and Norma were a married couple from three houses down. They had three kids and thought the idea of Michelle buying a house on her own was a “brave choice” considering something like that was likely to intimidate potential suitors.
As they were leaving, Norma stopped, placed her hand on Michelle’s forearm and leaned in, “Watch out for Sherry, she lives in the green house with the creepy lawn gnome out front. She is a nymphomaniac.”
“Um, thank you…for the heads up,” Michelle said.
Walt lived further down the way with his wife Leslie and their twin girls who appeared to be about thirteen. The females of this family regarded Michelle with wariness bordering on hostility. The girls kept their arms crossed and scowled at Michelle as she spoke to them. Leslie regarded Michelle with reservation, her thin lips drawn down at the edges almost giving her the appearance of a bird. Walt was the day to his family’s night. He was animated and his smile was wide.
Michelle struggled to maintain a polite distance from her neighbors, but that did not seem to be in the cards. From Sherry’s sexual escapades to one of the twins running away from home to Michelle’s house, she could not seem to keep them out.
Walt stopped by anytime time he spotted Michelle working in her garden or getting her mail. He seemed to envision himself a gifted comedian capable of stirring laughter from the masses. His stories always had a humorous spin to them, and he rewarded himself with a rich chortle following each anecdote. Michelle politely chuckled along with mild awkwardness, as she did not find Walt so much funny as eccentric.
One day Michelle was weeding her flowerbed when Walt’s old beat up blue Ford truck sputtered to a stop in front of her house. He got out with a spring in his step.
“Hey Michelle, what you getting into today?”
Michelle put on a plastic smile and responded, “Not too much Walt, how are you?”
As Walt approached, Michelle immediately noticed something amiss with his face. He only had one eyebrow. Michelle stood, and for a horrified moment was unsure how to proceed. Should she address the missing eyebrow? Should she ignore it? Various notions tugged at her. She most wanted to laugh, but struggled to remain composed. Ultimately, Michelle decided to let Walt direct the course of the conversation. If the eyebrow came up, then it would be fair game for discussion.
“Oh, I’m good. I’ve been down at the post office. I saw Ed Flowers’ new truck. It’s nice! I told him he was gone have to prostitute his wife to make the note on that thang,” Walt guffawed at his yuk, and Michelle offered a reluctant chuckle.
Various information filled the next ten minutes; information ranging from his dog’s dietary affairs to Leslie currently being angry with him for fishing without pants while he was asleep.
“Okay, maybe I wasn’t fishin' so much as peeing in the pool,” he cackled.
Turns out Walt was a sleepwalker. He started on another story point, but Michelle could not go on maintaining a sober conversation with a one eye-browed man who was prone to peeing in his pool when he was sleep walking.
“What’s up with your eyebrow?” she blurted
The conversation came to a standstill and Michelle was mortified. After a brief pause,
“Oh, so it’s noticeable, huh? I was hoping nobody would notice,” Walt said.
Michelle assured him that anyone missing an eyebrow would attract notice. They both burst into laughter that brought tears to Michelle’s eyes,
“What happened Walt?” she asked when she could speak.
“I bought a gentleman’s grooming apparatus. Y’know for what you girls call ‘manscaping’” he finished with a hushed tone on the last word, “And I wondered what it would do to my eyebrows because I think I’m getting to look a little terrorist-like”, again bringing a hushed tone to his last words.
As Walt went into detail about how he shaved off his eyebrow, Michelle pondered what Walt meant by “terrorist-like.”
She decided to ask what seemed to her was a perfectly reasonable question given the conversation,
“Why didn’t you just shave the other one off so you wouldn’t look so stupid?”
Walt drew in a breath and squinted his eyes, which only amplified the lopsided appearance to his face, and gave his response his best effort,
“Well, Michelle the way I figured it, as long as it takes to grow one eyebrow back, it would take twice as long to grow two back.”
About that time Sherry caught sight of Walt from her doorway and called out to him.
"See ya Michelle!" Walt said as he ran for his truck.