I’m not what you call, “A normal person.” My priorities are, in order:
1. My daughter
2. My husband
3. My writing
4. Everything else
I wake up early, work like a dog, get my daughter out of bed, throw some food at her and then whisk her away to school. It’s lucky for her if I put on underwear, let alone do my makeup or brush my hair.
Every day, I park in a little neighborhood about a block away from the school. It’s great, because I don’t have to deal with the traffic (it’s like a movie premiere is happening every morning), and it’s good for us to walk a little bit. We talk, we play, we pretend. Then I watch her go to her little class and I walk back by myself, usually reading a book.
So far, this system has worked like a charm. I get Abigail to school on time, we get some exercise and I have a couple minutes to read before I head back to my writing-lair.
Totally innocuous, right?
Oh, how naïve of you and I.
Here I am this morning, sitting in my car, finishing the final pages of “Rope Burns” by F.X. Toole. My engine is idling to keep the heat on my wet toes after my mini-walk. I’m just getting to the final scene, the climax where a bunch of people are dying horrible gang-style deaths when a real-life car pulls up beside me.
“What are you doing here? You can’t park here.” This lady has a thick head of black hair, a matching pantsuit set and dangling gold earrings. Her nails are manicured, her makeup is flawless, and she is about 30 lbs overweight. She also has a thick Hispanic accent.
Now, it is important to realize that the neighborhood I’m talking about is nice. Not, Howard Hughes Grotto nice, but Bill Gates Estranged Nephew nice. Upper middle class. $400,000 houses, brick walls, a fountain in front of every door, manicured lawns. Nice.
She sizes me up and realizes that I don’t fit the decor.
“I lib in dis neighborhood and it makes me bery nerbous that you’re here.” Her face is scrunched up like she is suffering from severe constipation. I immediately realize that I’m the poo she’s trying to push out.
From her perspective, it makes a little sense. I am in a grey hoodie (obviously, I am a gang member), my hair is a mess (I don’t get paid to brush my hair, people), and I have zombie stickers on the back window of my dirty Geo Prism (a car that is LITERALLY held together with rope). No, I am not currently the nicest-looking person in this neighborhood, I’ll give you that. But, still. A single 135-pound white girl with a book? Probably not going to win any prison fights.
I smile and wave my book. “Oh, I’m just finishing my book. I take my daughter to school every morning and I’m just parking here for a second.”
I go back to my gangland horror and try to ignore her frowning face. She gets in her black Beamer and drives away. That’s what I think, at least.
What the lady actually does is drives out of the neighborhood and immediately comes back in. I’m startled when she knocks insistently on my window a few moments later. I roll it down.
“You hab to go now. I called de owner of dis house and he says dis is a closed community and you can’t park here.”
This is not a closed community. It is a very open community, that didn’t even have the foresight of putting up a neighborhood watch sign. I say, “Is everyone in your neighborhood like this?”
“You leab now, or I call the Police. I call 911.”
Charming. I give my movie star smile and say, “Okay. You do that.”
I roll my window up and keep reading. At this point, it is hard to focus on the words since now this lady has TOTALLY MESSED UP MY GROOVE. You know what you should never do? Get between a writer and the last 4 pages of a book. Not wise.
3 minutes later, I close my book and put my seatbelt on. Then I think, This is stupid. I’ll just go to the owner of the house and ask if I can park here. I’m sure he’s not a total douche-canoe. Whoever he is will be more reasonable than this pant-suit wearing schizophrenic who probably thinks I’m going to bring down her property values by breathing on her frog fountain.
I unbuckle and walk towards the house. The crazy lady, Mrs. Pantsuit, is in her car which is parked right behind mine. I try to ignore her and walk to the front door of the house I’m parked in front of.
I ring the doorbell and wait. Behind me, there is a short shriek like someone just stomped a mouse, followed by heaving breathing and the clippety-clop of heels. Apparently, Mrs. Corporate America had parked behind me and was making a report of my car’s make and model, my haircolor and my physical build. (So that the police could arrest me, of course) She had been so busy she hadn’t seen me walking towards the house.
“Get away from my house,” she screeches. “You trying to steal my house! Help…HELP!!”
Before I can even speak, she is running, a beige and black streak down the sidewalk. Her arms are flailing wildly to keep her balance on the heels and her hair bobs up and down like a bouy. She is wheezing and I can imagine that she is avoiding tears just so she doesn’t have to do her makeup again before the police arrive.
I’m laughing, attempting to get the words out, “Oh…wait…this is YOUR house? YOU’RE the owner?!”
She’s still running and screaming, jumping her neighbor’s walkway stairs two at a time. “HELP! OH GOD, SHE’S GOING TO KILL ME AND STEAL MY HOUSE…HEEEELLP!!” She’s banging on her neighbor’s door, looking frantically over her shoulder, like I have an uzi trained on her head.
I get into my car. I pause for a moment, wondering if I should honk, just to give her a little jolt of adrenaline. She rather looks like she’s enjoying her adventure with the WHITE GIRL FROM HELL!
Then I remember that my horn doesn’t work. Ghetto Willow strikes again.
I settle on waving cordially as I pass, giving her my biggest, best “You’re a psycho” grin. The last thing I see is her ducking behind a hedge.
And this is the reason why you should always wear makeup before you leave the house. Because if you don’t, people will think you are trying to rob them and kill them.