Rob’s Thoughts of Comfort and Joy: The Old Lady on the Corner
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
I grew up in a small suburb on the south side of Chicago (at least it was small at the time…). It was absolutely packed with kids. My best friend lived across the street, and we knew everybody from down the block, the next block, etc. Everybody knew everybody. We used to play street hockey, capture the flag, and all the stuff childhood is made of. I smile just thinking about it. But the thing about kids is that they tend to make noise. A LOT of noise. And you know who doesn’t like noise…?
Oh c’mon, I’m not hating on old people. Truth be told, I think it’s ridiculous how bat shit our culture is about youth, being young, and appealing to the younger demographic. At this point in my life, I simply don’t buy that crap anymore. Craig Ferguson said it best in a monologue several years ago, when he talked about how experience and cleverness used to be celebrated, but now it’s all about being young and stupid (Type “Craig Ferguson, youth” into YouTube and you’ll find it). That being said, some people are just cranky assholes regardless of their age. Look in the right places, and you’ll find teenagers and twentysomethings who are cranky, cynical, miserable assholes. It’s certainly not a phenomenon that’s specific to the elderly.
But when I was a kid, there happened to be an elderly woman who lived on the corner of our block. I have no idea what her name was, where she came from, or what her story was. Her only defining attributes as far as we were concerned were that she was old, she lived on the corner, and she was MEAN. A bit scary, too. Ever run into an old person who’s intimidating for no apparent reason? This lady just had a certain combination of a raspy booming voice and wild white hair, rather reminiscent of Dr. Emmit Brown from Back to the Future, that made her terrifying to a pre-teen boy like myself.
This woman took the time to call the police on myself and a group of boys who happened to be playing street hockey on her street because we had…um…played street hockey on her street. She once identified me specifically as “the big guy in the blue shirt.” The ironic thing is that I’m all of 5’9 now. From that little adventure, we got a reminder of the 10 o’clock curfew, and a knowing “Listen, she’s just cranky” look from the officer.
Like many elderly folk, this woman did NOT like people being on her lawn. She didn’t even like people being in the same general area as her lawn! I’ve never understood people who are OCD about the grass in front of their homes. It’s one thing to keep it trimmed and watered and what not. But what exactly are a group of kids playing street hockey going to do to your precious grass? Particularly if they’re playing IN THE STREET. Leave a few roller blade tracks in the grass? By God, that could be the downfall of civilization as we know it…
One day, I was walking my dog around the block. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a plain old walk. As I’m rounding the corner, this old woman happens to be backing her car out of the garage. Apparently she recognized my dog, who was all of a foot tall, as a threat to the sanctity of her lawn. Thus, she proceeded to stick her head out her car window, and yell: “Make sure the doggy doesn’t poop in my yard!”
Really? Really? You’re going to take the time and effort to yell at a kid and his dog, who’ve done nothing more than walk past your house? How paranoid do you have to be about dog waste in order to do that? From that point on, I was terrified to walk my dog by that house. I wouldn’t even let her sniff their lawn. On one terrible occasion, she had herself an emergency, and simply HAD to go in the old lady’s grass. She may as well have been Clint Eastwood, pointing that big Gran Torino shotgun right at me…
For the most part, we didn’t deserve what we got from the old crank. But there was once instance in which two neighborhood kids were asking for it. Apparently these two kids, who I think were around 10, got caught egging the inside of this old woman’s garage. Their excuse? “We were playing catch-the-egg in her garage.” Even by 10-year-old standards, that’s pretty lame.
Some time during high school, the old lady mysteriously disappeared. Ironically, she was replaced by a family with very young children. I’d like to think that her spirit still lives in that house, and in an odd twist, is haunted by the kids, who for some odd reason is pooping in her yard. Strangely, the family recently put the house up for sale. Why? I can’t be sure. Perhaps the kids got scared, and asked mommy why Dr. Emmit Brown kept floating into their room at night, ranting about dog poop, eggs and Flux Capacitors.
In any event, I take comfort in the fact that this woman is now dead.
Front page image from witchfulthinking.wordpress.com. Trolling image from yourfunnystuff.com. Clint Eastwood image from paulickreport.com.