Suburban Thrall

The local rock group down the street
Is trying hard to learn their song
They serenade the weekend squire
Who just came out to mow his lawn

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to care

They were here before the sun came up. By car, on foot, even on bike. Moving in packs. Clad in leisure wear and comfortable shoes. Up and down the block. Following the siren call of frugality, of curiosity, of habit, of boredom.

My neighborhood is besieged by that phenomenon that occurs most frequently on the sixth day of the week.

It has several names.

Yard sale.

Rummage sale.

Garage sale.

Regardless of what the hell you call it, the devotees are all the same. Clutching travel mugs of coffee or Starbucks containers of latte. Poking around someone else's rejected stuff with either rote interest or avid inquisitiveness. Perhaps in hopes of making a love match with a screaming deal. Or at least a passing acquaintance with the latest thing they can't live without.

I have a headache already. It's not even 9 am yet. And for once, I can't blame it on being hungover.

See Mrs. Gray, she's proud today
Because her roses are in bloom
And Mr. Green he's so serene
He's got a TV in every room

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
Mothers complain about how hard life is
And the kids just don't understand

My very cool neighbors three doors down are "hosting" a neighborbood yard sale. I say cool because they describe the color of their house as "margarita green." Totally awesome description. But I digress...

There are quite a few of my neighbors who have card tables full of their unwanted stuff dotting their front yards. Larger stuff haphazardly arranged nearby. Things propped up against tree trunks. Linens displayed on bushes and fences. An outdoor bargain bonzana.

I opted not to participate. Partially because I'm lazy. But more because I'm of the "take your unwanted crap to a charity thrift store so the money from the sale can go to a good cause" kinda girl. Goodwill is my preferred drop-off of choice these days. I like to think my philanthropic bent counteracts my laziness.

Plus, when you hold your own yard sale, you have to get up and deal with people. Now, I'm an early riser, but I don't want to have to meet and greet J. Q. Public so damn early in the morning. There's a limit to the goodwill of my ante meridiem persona.

Lazy. Slightly misanthropic. A bit slovenly (I'm still in my pajamas and very well might be for quite a while.) And happily crabby.

With my apologies to the good people at Hellman's -- bring out the yard sale and you bring out my best.
Now please excuse me while I go dislodge my tongue from my cheek.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same
And theres doctors & lawyers
And business executives
And they are all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

I've always lived in suburbia. Hell, I now live just about a mile or so from where I grew up. I would say the "house in which I grew up" but the people who bought it from my parents seven years ago opted to tear it down. They lived in the house next door and supposedly wanted the house as a place for their hired help (nanny, cook, etc.) to live. Granted, our house wasn't flashy -- an early '60s modified one-story, three bedroom/two bath model tucked in between two 1920s Spanish-style, tile-roofed two story behemoths -- but it was home. And would have been a nice home for someone else. Can you tell I'm still peeved about this... when Will asks to see the house where I grew up, I've got nothing to show him. I try to placate myself with the fact that my family was the one and only to ever live in the house. But that's cold comfort when thinking about the house only existing now in fading photographs and dimming memories.

Damn -- I really am cranky today, aren't I? Although perhaps "introspective" is a better term.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university
Where they´re put in boxes
And they come out all the same

I like my neighborhood and its residents -- the little old ladies who leisurely take their morning constitutions round and round our block. The snowbird resident who lives next door to me and doesn't drive and so she walks to the shopping center just west of us to do her daily errands. The folks who walk their dogs and always give a smile or nod when our paths cross. And yes, even the nutty merchant marine guy across the street who provides me with hours of endless speculation and constant bemusement. He's out on another "mission" right now -- I'm hoping he gets home soon, since the only regular action around here has been Gladys Kravitz two doors down taking all week to plant a new flower bed by her front door and that's not nearly as exciting as what usually goes on across the street.

My hood is not a flashy hood, by any means. No McMansions or oversized SUVs dot our landscape. There's not a backyard pool on the block and only one house (merchant marine dude) has a driveway. My house is a bit too small (NO closet or storage space to speak of... but that's another rant for another day) and I wish there were more people my age or Will's age around. But there's a certain homeyness around here that I like. No pretensions. No airs of affected grandeur. And yes, the more than occasional yard sale. Which, for all my quirks, does add some character to the joint.

Call us Suburbia on Valium -- just low-key enough to be tolerable but energetic enough to be interesting. Fine by me.

Our house was our castle and our keep
Our house in the middle of our street
Our house that was where we used to sleep
Our house in the middle of our street...

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