Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Menopause Maude

When I got into my office this morning the light on my voice inbox was blinking.  I pushed the button and all the one million codes and finally heard the voice of my 84 year old neighbor "Florence Jean" from across the street.  Over and over she kept saying my name, "Dani, Dani, Dani, can you hear me? I know you are there honey cause I saw you come home."  OK, now I realize the call was from yesterday but I have no idea how she got hold of my direct number at work but she obviously thinks it is my home number and she's not giving up without a fight.  She went on until the voice mailbox was finally full...calling my name and basically telling me what a dirty scoundrel I am for not picking up the phone.  Oh my, I'll have to call her sometime today and tell her she called the wrong number and I wasn't ignoring her call.  

I remember the day I moved across the street from Mrs. P.  The minute we got out of the car we could hear her "very loud and very shrill" voice bellowing from her porch.  She was complaining about how a "bunch of kids" were moving in and how there was going to be wild parties and noise all the time.  We were off to a good start.  

The first thing we noticed about Mrs. P. was that we could hear her talking in her house from the confines of our living room with all the windows closed.  I also remember thinking she was "old" I mean "really old" but then I was only twenty so what did I know.

Now, do you remember Samantha's neighbor (In Bewitched), Gladys Kravitz?  Well, she lives across the street from me only she has an Okie twang and the loudest set of pipes in the world.  For the past 41 years she has kept track of my every move and I mean that literally.  She can see right into my living room from her porch.  If I open my front door she senses it and there she is on her porch checking to see what I'm up to.  Sometimes she reminds me of my dog Katie.  Katie always sensed when I was coming home and she was always in the window watching when I drove into my driveway.  SO DOES MRS. P.  It doesn't matter which direction I come from she just knows when I'm pulling into my driveway.  You have to avoid eye contact because once she engages you in conversation you are in it for the duration.   She doesn't know truth from fiction and it hasn't got anything to do with her age.  She's been that way for 41 years.  She once told me her son had been kidnapped by some mafia gang and she hadn't seen him or his family for 10 years.  (Uhhh, he was actually about 12 miles away and came over all the time to mow her yard)

During the first few years I lived across from Florence Jean she was married to her  second husband Raymond.  Now I guess Raymond used alcohol to anesthetize his brain in order to live with Mrs. P.  because that woman could nag the paint off a post.  One summer we could hear her harping on poor ole Raymond that she wanted her car painted.  She was relentless and every night it was the same drama.  That is until one night when Raymond came home "anesthetized" a little heavier than usual and armed with a large grocery sack.  Mrs. P. met him in the front yard just as Raymond whipped out about 6 cans of dark green spray paint and went to town painting Mrs. P's car.  There he was painting the windshield, tires, and everything else on that car while Florence Jean ran around the yard screaming.  Hearing the commotion all the neighbors grabbed their lawn chairs and settled down in the Farckle's yard to watch.

About the time she was going through menopause  she decided to paint her house and painted it the brightest metallic red you've ever seen.  (That's when we called her menopause maude)  We weren't very nice.

After Raymond passed away some 15 years ago Ms. Flo had a series of boyfriends.  My mother once commented on the fact that Mrs. P. had a much busier social life than I did.  There was the street cleaner who would park his street cleaning machine in front of my house leaving the brushes turning while he paid a visit to FLorence Jean.  That was the period when I had the cleanest curb in town.  Then there was the poor one armed man she courted.  He would come over and work like a dog pushing her mower with one arm and cleaning her flower beds.  Then he died and she replaced him with yet another handyman.  At that point my mother all but gave up on me.  I'd been divorced 10 years and my social calendar was empty and Mrs. P. was already on her third prospect.  The problem  Mrs. P. had was she was working them all to death.  That or the ole boys just surrendered to death!

Her last suitor was in his 90's.  He would drive over to pay Florence a visit and I'm not exaggerating it would take him 30 minutes to shuffle up to the porch and another 30 to pull himself up the one step leading to the door.  OK....I am exaggerating....but it took him quite a spell.  But sadly, he passed away about a year ago and there have been no more boyfriends since.

Now, I feel sorry for Mrs. P.  She no longer drives but she's still keeping watch from her chair on the porch.  Guess I'll give her a call to redeem myself.  It may take awhile to convince her she called the wrong #.


Linda said...

Oh, bless you. I moved from Texas to Oregon to get away from one of those kind of neighbors.

kenju said...

OMG. I'm so glad I've never had a neighbor like that.....lol
We've had nosy ones, but they were quiet.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am amazed at your patience with her but she does provide you with some entertaining moments. Your description of her is a hoot. Still chuckling here.

Anonymous said...

When we moved into the neighborhood, Audrey was an aging dragon lady whose reins were slipping. Moaning Mary lived down the street. Both would corner anyone brave enough to cross their path with their tales of fire and brimstone, or family ills.
Other neighbors, seeing the person in the 'net' of these women would call them away using tried and true methods.
Sad really, but colorful and interesting memories of a neighborhood that slowly faded into memory as they died and new people, busy, working people with no time to visit moved into occupy the house where once upon a time ...
I so enjoy your stories, thanks for telling them.