Saturday, April 21, 2007

Adopted

I have been adopted. Or so my wife jokes.

I have a next door neighbor -- truly a nice guy -- who has chosen me to be the one who will guide him through the strange and bewildering world that is suburban america. He's from Belgrade. And he has three children who spiral around his ankles from dawn until dusk, screaming at each other in a slavian tongue I don't know.

He apologizes profusely when they steal my baseball cap or poke me in the chest and call me "Boy." He weakly swats at them when they kick each other in the shins and call each other "liar!" and "cheater!" We discuss leaky sprinkler plumbing and tree surgery while my son and his boys chase soccer balls around the cul de sac and abrade their knees in the asphalt. I grew up playing soccer in the grass - these boys revel in skidding around in the cinders and gravel.

I know precious little about suburban things. I too was a city boy until last year. I moved to Coppell and found the lack of near and dangerous traffic disconcerting. I was comforted by the occasional blast of the fire engine sirens as they whisked off to tenderly pick kittens from trees (houses rarely burn in Coppell, although the occasional apartment complex experiences some sort of electrical short, sending the emergency staff into a tizzy.)

My neighbor, on the other hand, is at a complete and total loss. He expresses guilt about his wish tear all the sod from his yard and replace it with astroturf. I nod, grinning but terrified about my property value. He asks me, while the boys jab one another with sticks and metal scraps they pry out of the street, if I have any investment advice for him. "Keep the grass." I tell him, half-joking.

He's a runner. I have considered myself a runner - especially now that I own running shoes, several pairs of lightweight workout shorts and a pedometer. He runs 6-8 miles. I run more like 2. Which, if you do the math, is like 2 miles per child. I think I'd run 8 miles a day if I had three boys that swarmed around me like termites on a damp log, until their taunts and whines sounded like television static.

I feel sorry for him. And so I let him adopt me. And I grin at his predicament, and cut the occasionally stern glance at one of the ankle-biters when they veer too near. And I quietly hold my son's hand when he reaches for it as they rumble by, kicking up rocks and anger. And I look critically at my grass.

9 comments:

Make the logo bigger said...

Uh-oh, adopted. Say good-bye to your lawn tools. That is of course, after you go out and buy some, city boy.

;-p

Jetpacks said...

Nice essay.

In a few months this guy wll be walking in your home without knocking and helping himself to the contents of your fridge. Then eventually he will slyly suggest the "Serbian Swap."

kjbassick said...

You are a city boy?

James-H said...

I was a city boy. I can qualify that remark by saying I have lived in 5 city zip codes, where people regularly let their dog poop in the middle of my yard (and one woman regularly let her dog pee on my herb garden). I had my car broken into in front of my house. I had my car plowed in. I had choppers routinely fly over my house searching for criminals with a spotlight. I had at least two neighbors with tin foil on their windows, dogs that stayed outside all year round and apartment complexes full of lowriders, pitbulls and men who fished in public waterways in the middle of the afternoon.

kjbassick said...

I guess I was more questioning the "precious little" you know about the suburbs...soccer-playing, marching-band leading, tennis-whites wearing suburban child that you were...

James-H said...

Cred = ruined. What're you going to post pictures of me naked in the bathtub now?

I just find it ironic that this guy asks me about pissing off the homeowner's association. I used to live for that kind of shit.

kjbassick said...

Sorry...didn't mean to out you as a suburbanite...

Jetpacks said...

Tennis whites wearing?

DANG!

Cred not just ruined - dragged through the mud and peed on.

Make the logo bigger said...

“men who fished in public waterways in the middle of the afternoon.”

Oh shit. I’m guilty as charged. That reminds of the other guy you see in the city:

The 40-something year old riding a ten-speed with inverted handlebars–at 11:00 am.

I’m in the sticks now but one thing is constant: the fucking lady who lets her dog hit your mailbox was only slightly different than the one who let her dog dump on my city lawn, even WITH a scoop law. Bitch.