The temp on my patio hit 98 degrees; heat index is much higher. With the weedy grass in the front yard two feet high, I felt compelled to mow, but I got a little trick that I call the Wet Arab. I don a long sleeve shirt, a pair of long pajama bottoms and dunk myself in the pool. Then I top off this soppy outfit with Panama hat. I suppose, I look quite ridiculous. Who cares?
A neighbor stopped me from my work to discuss a dying tree–more on her property than mine. While her SUV idled and the chit-chat revved, I was at first chilled in my wet clothes and then began to dry out. By the end of the conversation I was sweating. As you may guess, the talk when pass the initial topic of tree.
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Her husband, an NCO, has been deployed to Iraq and even when he gets Stateside he will not be stationed in this area. Unfortunately, they owe more on their house than its worth and more on their vehicles than they can recoup from any sale. Credit cards are topped out, and things are so bad that they’ve put the teenage daughter to work–two part-time jobs, no less. While mom holds three part-time jobs. (Wow, so somebody I know is living the American dream.)
In a bizarre way, they’ve spent themselves into a separation, strained the dynamics of familial relationships and consumed all resources, which I’m sure was NOT their original intention.
They are now slaves to all their possessions, which is again odd, since they don’t really own anything. One big snafu and their house of cards will fall…there’s always a snafu.
Did I tell you that her SUV was in idle for the length and breadth of the entire conversation? She was also on the wrong side of the road; fortunately, we live on a quiet, dead-end street.
She didn’t ask my advice on anything except the tree, and I’m glad of that. I got the idea she was just using me as a free psychiatrist. But, hopefully, they can see the problem; it’s a giant obelisk to me. A staff sergeant, a house cleaner and three kids living in a two story house with a pool, new vehicles and dumping 3 trashcans of garbage every week…please. I’m happy to report that I kept my big mouth shut.
The story of the parents is an old one these days and not particularly interesting. I don’t know them well enough to say whether they are ignorant or stupid.
Ignorant = lacking knowledge, untrained, uneducated, street dumb.
Stupid = not intelligent, of low IQ, brain damaged, sucker.
After she drove away and I ripped the cord on the mower again, I found myself musing the teenage daughter’s position the most. As the mother spoke to me, I could just barely make out the outline of the young girl in the backseat, behind the tinted window. Waiting, no doubt, to be ferried to one of her jobs, I would have loved a peek at her expression.
Does she resent forking over her paychecks to mom? Does she have a say in the household expenditures now? Obviously, her social life has come to a screeching halt, so how have her friends reacted? Did she loose a boyfriend? (She hardly seems old enough for a beau, and I’ve never notice in young men hanging around. Also, she a 50 pounds overweight. Has the combination totally crushed her network?) Is she one of those kids who have fallen into the void of hallway invisibility? Are grades slipping? Will she follow in the tracks of her parents? Has she learned anything? All teenagers think their parents are stupid, but few of them have proof. Does she use it against them, or does she still respect them on other accounts?
Or—wonders of wonders–does this new responsibility give her a sense of worth and purpose that so many young people lack? Are her teachers aware of the situation? Does she have friends or a friend to vent her frustrations on?
I think I will befriend her if the opportunity presents itself. My curiosity is almost irrepressible. (catch-22, now she’s busy, busy)
I know so very little about her. I know that when she was younger she loved to make her little sister cry and squeal–along the hours of 5:00-900 p.m., which happens to be my favorite time to write–and that did not endear them to me. She’s an Army brat, and so was I. Yet she hangs to that northern accent; a real Army brat adapts to their surroundings. She’s shy or reluctant to talk to me. Probably, she heard about my no nonsense stance with other kids in the neighborhood, but I had good reason to come down hard on the others, since they were trespassing, up to no good, damaging my fence and hanging out in my peach tree. Still malcontents seldom tell why they got into trouble in the first place. On her plus side, after an initial introductory, she declined to join the rabble-rouser’s club, and she’s apparently willing to help her family.
All and all, she might make a good character for a story. You never know, I might write YA yet. Said I never would, but an unusual character can kick start a whole line of thought.
And while we’re talking about it, how come they don’t have a Personal Money Management class in high school????
Making money is only half the story.
Author’s Note: I’m putting this one on the back burner, as I’m involved in a story called The Sybil Gale right now and it’s giving me a fit. Also, my hubby will be on vacation this week, and when he’s on vacation I can’t get a thought in edge ways, so there’s no use in frustrating myself. 🙂
Do you like the asterisks? I know they’re not technically proper, but they break up the print–sort of a visual thing.