Saturday, August 02, 2008

In the Neighborhood

Throughout the summer, for reasons I can neither guess nor discern, every weekend night is punctuated by fireworks. Sometimes it's just the anemic pop of neighborhood fireworks going off just after sundown for some kid's birthday. Other times, though, they are the full-on artillery barrage fireworks sounding in the distance; the din of thousands of dollars per explosion. Sometimes leaves me wondering what I'll find of the city Monday morning.

I went for a bike ride with my wife this morning to Tim Horton's for coffee.

As I pumped our bike tires with air, our bland born again Christian next door neighbor was outside with her son. He's an adorable little two year old who's apparently talking and quite animated. I heard him speaking and making some interesting sounds, so I called over, neighborly, to her and said, "Wow, he's talking up a storm!" She gave a wan smile. I then commented to my wife, "Huh, the baby talks more than she does." Since I telephoned her and her husband one night last year, accusing them of being inconsiderate assholes for having their hot tub underneath my bedroom window and waking us up one night splashing and carrying on in the urinal font with friends, this cold fish has been one frigid carp. Her husband pieces together a pretty sturdy living between a tool and die shop and being a pilot-for-hire. As a consequence, he's never home. Can't blame him.

As we rode down our street this morning, we saw the remnants of the Philistines' night last night. The Philistines are a gaggle of harmless, noisy beer-drinking neighbors who have turned their three or four properties into a sort of impromptu collective; a sort of Scientology camp for factory workers and women who shout with men's voices. Every weekend night, they light a bonfire in this one driveway -- why they don't go into the privacy of the backyard, I'll never know, other than to guess that nobody could observe them having their wonderful fun time back there -- stoking up particle board and other assorted scavenged flammable objects in a metal fire pit apparatus. They gather around it like a tribe from ten thousand years ago, doing strange hoofing dances in the orange light, imbibing intoxicants, bellowing laughter over statements that are just not funny.

This morning, the driveway around Philistines' metal fire pit was littered with charred bits of what could have been wood or a human femur, beer cans, I'm sure I saw a few teeth glittering in the sunlight. Over our air conditioner and fan last night I heard a few rumblings from that direction. I had the feeling if I'd gone over there right then I'd have found them devouring the right leg of the mail man.

Further down the street are the Rocket Scientists who didn't quite make it to the space program. Instead, these men-children build, fine-tune and test-fly ultra-mini mini bikes: motorbikes a little bigger than your average coffee maker. Everyone should have a hobby. I don't care how others amuse themselves. My only beef with the Rocket Scientists is they haven't yet perfected an ultra-mini mini bike that doesn't roar like a garbage truck when they do laps around the neighborhood. Seeing these louts on the contraption almost makes up for its wretched roar -- grown men crouched on this toy-like vehicle that goes just fast enough to break a collar bone or flatten a nose if someone took a corner too tightly. Then I conjure the mental image of one them riding it down to the gas station for a fill-up, cradling the ultra-mini mini bike in an arm like a little terrier, as he gently applies the gas pump handle to its wee fuel orifice. The ultra-mini mini bike is probably bathed in the kitchen sink, evenings, and probably has its own blanket-lined box in the garage. When it comes to repairing or calibrating this pet vehicle, I imagine the Rocket Scientists affixing a jewelers' monocle in an eye and working on the thing with watchmakers' tools. Everyone should have a hobby.

No comments: