Our first house wasn’t very far along in the remodeling process when we discovered the neighbors were a special kind of loathsome, and I think it was this sad fact that drove us to vacate the place sometimes for days at a stretch, and sleep in the car.
I guess I need to unpack that a little more.
The woman who sold us the place believed very strongly she’d get it back, and made an astonishing number of “friendly” visits to make sure we weren’t violating any of the terms of the sales contract-among them a prohibition on harboring or subletting to members of motorcycle gangs, roasting hogs over a green wood fire in the kitchen sink, or getting up to any naked deviltry with goat masks.*
Before the animus between us got so thick I was considering starting a venomous snake-milking farm (since there was no mention of that in the contract), Lois would show up at the door and let herself in to “Mamas’ house”. It got fairly awkward, me having to quickly ditch my goat mask in a house without closets, and my wife acquiring dozens of dime store sack dresses coathangered in strategic locations throughout the house.
We were fortunate she never walked in on us during a waxing October moon, but she did crash our marijuana-enhanced viewing of Around the World in Eighty Days- a fairly long movie, which she stayed for- and talked ceaselessly throughout.
Her speech was a hybrid of Southern Virginia glottal vowels and a unique fetal-alcoholic disregard of consonants that made me wish David Niven would leap out of the screen and throttle her for murdering his tongue.
Some southern dialects can make poetry from the mundane. It can be the perfect intimate mode of speech for the drawing room or salon.
Lois’ brand fashioned outdoor people of virtually everyone she encountered.
One day when we accompanied her shopping in town, I watched her drive a shop owner out into the street. He was only looking for a minute of silence, but to me, it appeared there was a split second he was looking for a good spot to launch himself in front of an oncoming vehicle. I was watching him while trying to hide behind a pegboard supporting a display of ancient radiator hoses and pretending the crazy bitch wasn’t with me. I could just make out my wife over in the garden implements trying to create a significant buffer of space between herself and Lois, and beginning to hyperventilate through her nose.
“This place is high ain’t nothing but a bunch of Jews run it. His daddy won’t so bad, but he’s dead and it’s cheaper up at Willeford’s this is purty, look good at your house. See if you can Jew him down he always makes it high to see what he can get don’t let him skin ya oooh this is purty bet it’s high, he’s always high on stuff, not like his daddy…”
Her family went so far as to construct a small deck outside the kitchen, where you might find them huddling against a freezing rain beneath a tarp while she washed the Christmas dinner dishes.
She didn’t notice their absence. She just kept talking.
She’d talk while you vacuumed, while you sanded floors, while you jackhammered a slab of concrete, or while you turned aside and wept, and there wasn’t a goddamn thing you could do about it. She could make half an hour seem like the year without a summer, and we owed her a hundred thousand dollars.

*Regarding the sales agreement, this is nearly true. I’ve embellished a little, for clarity.

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