Sunday, September 09, 2007


A warm wind whipped its way over the hill above my house. Dry, from the East, returning to the sea from the high plains of Eastern Oregon.

The blue glint of the crystal sky reflected off the green paint of the pick up, as I slowly worked the wax off in circles. I polished the paint into a bright lustrous gloss, highlighting the metallic sparkle of the undercoat.

Working for hours on the sloping driveway, I washed and waxed and windexed my way around my wife's truck. It has been a great truck. Reliable. Capable. But it has to go.

With the addition of the boy, and our metro-commuting lifestyle, it is no longer feasible to have only one child-friendly car. So, IN with the Saab Wagon, OUT with the Toyota Tacoma.

Squatting for eye-level perspective, I crab-walked around and around, rubbing out minor scuffs and scratches from the clear coat. As I ground down on one particularly nasty streak of fossilized tree sap, I heard the not-un-expected drawl of "hey buuuuudy..." from the end of my driveway behind me.

It was my new, uh, friend from across the street. I knew he'd find his way over. He always does, cheap beer in one hand, perpetual cigarette in the other. He came over to express his gratitude for my having watched his dog last month. Sure, he ended up being gone for a month, and, sure, the dog was a cranky old pit bull, but really, after the first few dozen times, I got the point.

I mean, don't get me wrong, he's a nice guy, and smart too, with a working knowledge of spelunking, mineral deposits, mine operations, the international diamond trade, wild blueberries, astronomy, construction contracting, disability law, marine biology, geology and disc golf. He also knows everyone in a 12 block radius. Oh, and he's paranoid. Oh, and, he has ZERO short term memory.

The memory thing may be related to his near-death car accident from a couple of years ago, or it may be related to the full kahuna beat down he received on a beach in Hawaii earlier this year at the hands of a psychopath. Oh, and did I mention his wife died? Oh, and did I mention the Smithsonian was going to name a new mineral after him, a mineral he discovered in one of the three quartz mines he owns up in Washington?

I kept waxing.

Look, he's a nice guy, and I find him amusing. Having known our pal Carl for so long, I've learned to appreciate the occasional tall tale for what it is, and to just not question the details... (love ya Carl, be safe there at the end of the world..)

So he talked, and I cleaned. Eventually, he wheeled over his extensive and somewhat impressive shell collection from the islands. Literally thousands, and he claimed it was only the tip of the iceberg. I have no reason to disbelieve. He even let me keep a few.

The afternoon wore on, and he kept talking. I found my attention swaying now and then, often coming to rest on the cloth in my hand. There were ten of them, handy-sized rags, clean and new. The missus had purchased them earlier when she went to fetch truck detailing supplies.

They were rough, but soft, all at once. They were absorbent, and they left no lint or dust. They were perfect for drying, perfect for windows, perfect for cleaning the dash. They did not smear or blur the glass or other shiny surfaces! They were the perfect car cleaning rag, the best I'd ever used. They were made from the latest microfiber technology, able to absorb 7 times their own weight in water! HOW DID I EVER wash my car before these rags were invented???

My pal had stopped talking just long enough to light the next smoke. The silence distracted me, and I looked up. He then told me again about how he likes to make clocks out of coral and shells...

I gave up. I went in side and got a cigar and a beer. I came back out, and sat down on the lawn. "So," I said, holding the zippo flame to the business end of my stogy, "tell me more about those wild blueberries..."


  1. You are such a kind neighbor. If one of my vagrant flush my gas tank down the street neighbors came over, I would entertain enough conversation to incriminate them with the police then shove my garden trowel through their eye in self defense.

  2. I did consider setting myself on fire to escape the conversation. I opted for the beer.

  3. You are much more gracious than I would have been. lol Thankfully, my neighbors are just as asocial as I m. But I loved this post. You have a great way of describing things.

  4. My neighbors dont speak english...problem solved

  5. Not really, my pal could speak African Bushman, and he'd still come over to chat. All I'd hear would be: "geep awk glug glug [click click] nog wan bleg bleg [click click], etc..."

  6. Anonymous10:59 AM

    You are warm and welcoming. I usually just wave to my neighbors.
    Mmmm, blueberries!

  7. Anonymous12:38 PM

    Ok, so while you're out in your driveway drinking beer and talking about blueberries to the local riff-raff, who the hell is helping your wife with all the kids you have now? Those things don't raise themselves, you know. Dumbass.

  8. Of course they don't raise themselves! That's what military school (or the circus) is for.

    As for neighbors - at least he had something useful to say about blueberries.
    Some of my neighbors come by to borrow a cup of tinfoil (for the hats they are making, to ward off the mind-control beams, you understand...)

    Then again - some of them make a damn fine cocktail. THOSE are always welcome...

  9. I would like to appologize to BS for deleting his comment. It was a funny comment, but it used my last name, which would eventually make the Lounge discoverable by people who should not see it, simply by Googling me.

    Thanks for understanding. Sorry for the censorship.

  10. Oosje4:38 PM

    Wax on, Wax off....It's a meditation, you know...

    it includes neighbors

  11. I'm getting thirsty and its almost 5:00pm. COCKTAIL HOUR!!!! Neighbors are welcome.

  12. Anonymous9:44 AM

    Your post starts like a dirty romance novel. Long, Black and Hard...oh my!!

  13. I am doing nothing of note lately.



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