Saturday, August 10, 2013
The suburbs seethe with a barely-comprehesible oddity. Lynchian, in some ways, the buried threats and strangeness of people in their nested rows of comfort.
This afternoon my wife was disturbed from a semi-nap to find that pellets of mud were being hurled against the side of our house. Who would hurl pellets of mud at another person's house, you ask? Answer: the children who live next door.
The mother of said children, watching the pellets hurled, told her children...wait for it...."that is NOT imaginative play."
What the hell kind of a rebuke is that??? "Imaginative play?"
Lookit, hippie, the problem with your children is NOT that they don't know how to play with imagination. It's that they're churlish and disrespectful brats. (I shudder to imagine what my mother would have said if she's caught me throwing mud at my neighbor's house. Suffice it to say that it would have been quite a bit stronger than "ANCIANT, that is NOT imaginative play.")
As it happened, I was half lit when I got the news about the urchins and their mud missiles, so I went to the neighbors and voiced some strong objections. (It's oddly liberating, to yell at other people about their children.) The woman who I dealt with (NOT the mother, btw, but some kind of visiting parent) expressed great regrets and sympathy. But still. I mean, come on! Is this the Haight? Is this Cuba, in the 50s? Do we not have rules? Do we not have PROPRIETY???
This makes me think of Jane Austen. And my erstwhile teachings. "Propriety" seems, at first blush, a relatively banal and uninteresting notion. What's 'proper' or 'expected' or 'polite' can seem, to the revolutionary, so tediously bourgeois. But the genius of Austen was to see the link between seemingly trivial proprieties and larger (dare I say 'tectonic?') moral agencies.
To put it another way: the husband/man/patriarch of the house next door, is a big soccer fan. I, a moderate soccer fan, occasionally engage him about important matches. Several years ago I attempted to commiserate with him (an Italian, and thus, bien sur, a fan of team Italia) about a difficult Italian loss in the Euro Cup. In the midst of such loss, an umpire (black) had made a slightly debatable call. Male neighbor's response: "to have a whole match RUINED by this _monkey from the jungle_...it is disgusting."
And I thought: THAT is what you think is disgusting?? (This reminds of the great Nick Kroll skit about Europeans--the fake ad for a hostel. It has a whole bit about how Europeans express great horror at racism while themselves expressing views about minorities that would get you fired/arrested in, say, rural Mississippi.)
Point is, Lynch had it right. Suburbs, they have some odd and freaky events in play.
Also, I think these neighbors are deeply invested in the marijuana grow business. But that's a story for another time.