Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s lifestyle November 5, 2008Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought.
Tags: living alone, neighbors, single
The other day I walked from my townhouse to my car and saw people of all ages swarming over the grassy knoll in front of our street, giggling and shouting and walking and standing. I recognized a neighbor from the other end of our row of houses, who I only knew from waving distance. She approached me, a petite woman holding the hand of a little toddling girl.
“What’s going on?” I said.
“All my children and grandchildren are here visiting,” she said, smiling.
“Wow, so you’re busy,” I said, also smiling.
We exchanged names and laughed about how her name was Tina, and my name was Christina, and one of her daughters-in-law who wandered by at that moment also happened to be named Christina. Then Tina looked at me and said, “Do you live alone?”
“Yes,” I said, still smiling, enjoying the rare chance–so seldom presented in the American ‘burbs–to stand and chat with a neighbor. But Tina–poor Tina, when she heard my answer, her face just dropped. I have never seen a face go from smile to deep concern so fast. Her brow furrowed, the corners of her lips turned down, her chin slipped to the side and she shook her head just a little, while inhaling a startled gasp. She morphed as if she were in a cartoon or a sitcom. It was singlism at its finest, and yet her uguarded physical reaction was so hilarious that I couldn’t be mad at her, any more than I could be mad at a cat spazzing out in a bathtub.
Like with the cat, my first instinct was to reassure her. ”Oh, no really, it’s ok, don’t worry!” I said. But she still worried. “If you need anything,” she said, sweet and concerned, “Then you just come down and see me.” I told her I absolutely appreciated her offer, and I did. It’s always good to have kind neighbors.
But as I drove off I wondered, why is it that she can let her face fall when she hears that I live alone, but if I were to (not saying I would, but if I *did*) exhibit the same cheek-sagging response when she told me about all her swarms of kids and grandkids and kids-in-law, I would be an insensitive, intolerant bitch?
Just saying it’s interesting.