A Story As Narrated By My Mother

So my neighbor. Well, what? What to say about the man. He’s out in his side yard and I’m out in my driveway. Pure coincidence! I’m getting something from my trunk. And he says, “I saw you walking the other day. You walk a lot?” And I say yes. And, okay, I probably say something about the Saint Joseph River and the trees and the birdsong—I rhapsodize, because that’s what I do, but not because of him. But of course he’s there and he hears it. And well what should he say in response? He leans back on his hips, just kind of puts himself out there. And he’s got a big round belly. He says, “Yeah, I gotta start working out.” And what do you think your mother said? Well, I shook my head  and leaned in and said, “I think you look great.” That’s what I said, holding my hands up like I do, earnest chipmunk pose: “I think you look great.” Well okay. So it’s a couple days later and here comes my neighbor, ambling past my driveway window, and he’s holding a rake. It’s a high window so I’m only seeing the top parts of him, his head and the head of the rake, but he’s just kind of . . . well, twirling the rake. I’m thinking “Please, please, please don’t rake my yard.” Because he does that you know, mows my lawn or shovels my driveway—wholly unbidden!—which I’m grateful for because it’s hard and my shoulder hurts. But it also makes me feel geriatric. Like, “old woman shut up in white dollhouse.” And that’s sort of how I assumed it was. Like he’s thinking “old woman.” Except we’re probably the same age. Or maybe he’s a little bit older. Anyway he’s got this T-shirt—he was wearing it when I told him he looks great. It’s got one of those stick figures doing some activity, I don’t remember what, and under the stick figure, well what do you think it says? “Life is crap.” Just like that. So he comes twirling and I turn from the window and take a deep breath. And I go back into my romper room where I’ve got my stuffed llamas and the jewel tone christmas lights strung up and I roll out my beach towel because I can’t find my yoga mat. And here’s my beach towel which says huge in the exact same font, “Life is good.” And I stretch.

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2 thoughts on “A Story As Narrated By My Mother

  1. Am I allowed to read “stretch” as a kind of euphemism, or a beginning with the end left to the imagination? Btw: love the patches illustration at the top. More best, William

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