Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Imaginary Neighbors

About six months after we moved into our old neighborhood, a man named Tom moved into the house across the street.  He seemed like a friendly guy and would wave and say hello if we were unloading groceries or taking out the trash.  Sometimes, if we were working in the yard, he would come over to check out our project and chat.  At Christmas time, we left a tin of cookies on his porch just like we did for our other neighbors.

I wouldn't say we had become friends, exactly, we didn't go to his house for cookouts or invite him to our house for drinks.  Our conversations were usually just small talk; complaining about dandelions in the lawn or gas prices, the weather and such.  We didn't really know much about him.  He was just a nice guy who lived across the street.

One day, about a year later, Tom mentioned something about his wife, Darlene.  We were dumbstruck.  Tom had a wife?  We had never seen her or heard him talk about her before.  How could she have been living there all this time without us having known she existed?  It didn't sound like they were recently married and she must have left the house every day because Tom told us where she worked.  We considered the possibility that he was a little delusional and she was a figment of his imagination.  Unlikely, but plausible.  If children can have imaginary friends, why can't adults have imaginary spouses?

It immediately became a casual obsession for us to watch for her.  There were two cars at Tom's house and we had seen both of them coming and going, but never at the same time.  If the red minivan was in the driveway, the silver coupe was gone and vice versa.  We would try to spot the driver whenever either one of the cars were in use, but the windows were tinted in both vehicles making it nearly impossible to get a clear view.  The landscaping obstructed our view of the driver exiting the car.

Finally, on a Saturday afternoon, we saw a woman step out on the porch to get the newspaper.  She was out and then back in the house so quickly that we weren't able to get a good look at her, but we were pretty sure it was Darlene.  Over the next few weeks we spotted her several other times.  Strangely, though, we never saw her with Tom.  We wondered why they never seemed to be together.

We became convinced that Tom and Darlene were the same person.  It seems like a stupid idea, I know, but it was unbelievable the way we could never catch sight of both of them at the same time.  One day, in particular, they were doing some landscaping around their property.  After shoveling some dirt into the flower beds, Tom disappeared into the garage.  A moment later, Darlene walked out of the garage with a flat of flowers.  After planting them, she headed back into the garage and Tom reappeared with mulch.  This went on all day.  Tom in one door, Darlene out the other, never together.

It wasn't really possible that Tom and Darlene were one in the same and we knew that.  He was tall, she was short.  He had tattoos on his arms, she had none.  But it was just so funny how we were never able to spot them together.  We don't live in that neighborhood anymore, and I don't know if Tom and Darlene still do.  But wherever they are, they're probably living happily ever after in separate rooms.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Hair Raising Ghost Story

You may recall that we frequently have visitors of the supernatural variety in our home.  I told you about a few of them here.   There have been many more since then, but this most recent visit was different in several ways.  One, it was not human and two, it left a calling card behind.  This story is 100% true.

Last Thursday evening, right around dinner time, Mr. W, myself and our daughter were sitting around the kitchen island.  My daughter and I were facing Mr. W with our backs to the doorway, but from where he was sitting, Mr. W had a view straight through the dining room and into the living room.  He was looking past us and had an odd look on his face.

"Did we get a cat?" he asked.

"No, why?"

"I just saw a cat walk through the living room."  He held up his arm, then.  "Look, I've got goosebumps."

If any cat were going to visit us "from beyond", I assumed it would be our beloved caramel colored puff ball who passed away a year ago at the ripe old age of 21, so I asked, "Was it Chester?"

"No.  This cat was much lighter.  It may have been white," he said.

We took a quick look but found nothing.  The visiting cat had vanished into thin air.

The next day, I had forgotten all about it until I noticed my daughter's hand held game charging on the ottoman.  She had set it there because it's close to an electrical outlet.  As I picked it up to unplug it, I saw something in bold contrast to the brown leather.  A single white hair, curved, about three inches long.  A cat hair.  I'm not kidding.

I tried to come up with a rational explanation for the appearance of the hair.  I thought maybe it wasn't a cat hair at all, but a human hair.  However, that seems highly unlikely.  While Mr. W and I both have a little gray coming in, his hair is much too short and my hair is much too long to match the hair on the ottoman.  The kids don't have white hair and we no longer have any pets.  We don't have anything with fur on it except the hood of my daughter's coat.  Even then, it's fake fur, and much shorter and darker than the hair I found.  Above all, after having cats for more than 20 years, I know a cat hair when I see one.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Is There A Time Warp In Here Or Are You Just Messing With Me?

I'm 44 years old.  On a good day, I look 43½ .  On a bad day, maybe 50 or 55, I'm not sure.  One thing is for certain, though, the only time I look under 21 is in pictures that were taken when I was under 21.  Why am I telling you this?  Because there is a cashier at our local supermarket that insists on carding me every time I buy beer or wine.  Every. Time.

When I go shopping, I like to use the self check-out lanes (we call them U-Scan).  If I'm buying a few bottles of wine or a 12 pack of Landshark (I'm not much of a beer drinker, but Landshark just tastes like summer to me) the routine normally goes like this: I scan the product, look over to the cashier and wave, she waves back, overrides the age requirement and I put the beer or wine in a bag.  Easy, peasey.   Unless "Carol" (I don't know if that's her name) is working the U-Scan station.

The first time I came up against "Carol" I was buying a few bottles of wine.  I scanned the first one, looked over at her and waved, then waited for the screen to show that the age requirement had been waived.  I was still facing the U-Scan monitor when I saw her approach out of the corner of my eye.  She walked right up to me and stared without saying a word.  When I turned in her direction she said "I need to see your whole face."  She had already seen my whole face, but I guess I look 20 years younger in profile, who'd have thunk it?  Weird.

I gotta be honest, that sort of irritated me.  There are dozens of different cashiers in that store and no one had ever behaved that way whether I was going through the U-Scan or a full service lane.

A week or so ago, I found myself once again checking out in the U-Scan with "Carol" running the station.  I scanned all of my other groceries first and saved the wine to the end.  I dragged the bottle over the scanner and waved to her (making sure she could see my whole face) so that she could see I was "of age" to purchase alcohol.  Still, she came over and stared at me.  I asked if she wanted my birth date and she said she did.  "Three eighteen sixty-eight," I said.  She just stood there and continued to stare, so next I asked if she wanted to see my ID.  Yes, it turned out, she did.  "Do I look under 21 to you?" I asked her.  "Maybe," she said, "but that could be because I'm so old."  Using that logic, she could mistake my 12 year old daughter for a toddler.  I had no idea what she meant but I showed her my ID through the window in my wallet.  I was just waiting for her to insist I take it out so she could hold it up to the light.    

So what's the deal with this woman?  Could she be against the purchase of alcohol in general or is it just me she has a problem with?  Does she know that Prohibition was repealed in 1933?  I know that stores have to protect themselves from selling to underage customers, but come on, do I look anywhere close to 21 to you?