Last week, Candy invited me to join some neighborhood ladies for lunch. They planned to bring sack lunches and meet in the lot next to mine called the Commons Area. The Commons Area has a large red warning sign. “This is Private Property. No Trespassing.” The area has a 12-seater picnic table, two large trees, and a two-foot plastic wolf to keep the geese away. There is a small man-made lake stocked with fish and a nice water fountain. “No Fishing Allowed” is posted near the lake. The association allows three fishing days each summer. We fish as a community.
As I head to the Commons Area, it looks like Candy overbooked the 12-seater. I can hear 88-year-old Lou talking and see bodies shifting. Lou is the neighborhood rebel. She does not stop at the shiny new stop signs monitored by invisible police, she will not replace her mailbox by 2015, and she’s painting her front door a prohibited hunter green.
“Come on, Debi,” Lou yells. “You’re late. Sit by me.”
A fiery gold-streaked red head catches my eye, “Who are you?” she asks.
“I just said who she is,” Lou responds before I get a chance to answer. “Her name is Debi.”
Candy shoots me and Lou an exasperated look, then continues, “… so, in one appointment I find out I have skin cancer, might not be able to get another eye surgery, and my thyroid is funny.”
“Do you still have double vision,” Maryann wants to know.
“Yes, my vision needed to get better for surgery, but it’s worse. I might have double vision forever.”
“Oh, that’s too bad.” Evelyn says patting Candy on the shoulder as she hops up to show everyone an ugly woven rug. “Does anyone have extra sacks? I’ m making these mats for the homeless.”
Displaying the rug, she explains, “I use sacks. This strip is Kroger, here’s Meijer, and Wal-Mart, and Target, Macy’s and Penny’s. The orange strip is made from newspaper bags. I need lots of sacks.”
Candy asks, “How do you get the mats to the homeless?”
“You could drive downtown and throw them on sidewalks,” mumbles Lou.
“I think we should start a book club,” Candy says.
“How can you read with double vision?” Maryann wonders.
“I don’t have double vision when I read or drive.”
Sally loves the book club idea. “We could have it the 4th week of each month.”
“We have to read a book in a month? I can’t read that fast,” says Lou.
“Book club needs to be once a month, otherwise it will get confusing,” Sally explains. “We have Bunko night, euchre club, and bible study. That leaves the fourth week open. We’ll have book club the fourth week then we can see each other every week.”
Lou argues reading a book a month is ridiculous. She’s got to get her front door painted. Peggy, the new neighbor with the questionable reputation, wants to know if Lou is going to use Dean, the neighborhood maintenance man, to paint the door. Maybe the rumors about Peggy are true.
Being placed in the middle of the table, I hear everything.
MaryAnn and some of the ladies are worried about Tom’s car accident. They don’t know yet if Tom was drinking. If so, he deserves jail, but his poor wife is sick. It’s a shame.
Tom who? I’m wondering.
Sally’s rushing into the Commons Area with a big bag of sacks.
“What did I miss? Who was in an accident?”
“Where did you go?” Lou asks ignoring Sally’s question.
“I went to get some sacks for Evelyn. I also got dessert and some paper to get everyone’s email address for book club.”
“I’m not doing book club,” Lou responds.
“What accident?” Sally asks again.
“Who cares? It’s a soap opera,” Lou says. “Judy told me Chris is trying to send all the gophers into her yard. Chris bought a fake gopher snake. I could just as easily end up with those gophers. I live on the other side of Chris.”
Lou is irritated with the gophers, the soap opera, and the book club.
“Book club begins the fourth Wednesday in September.” Sally announces ignoring Lou and passing the paper for email addresses.
“That’s seven weeks away.” Lou calculates. “What are we reading?”
Lou and double-vision Candy are the first to sign up for book club. Maryann promises to email everyone if Tom was over the legal limit, although driving drunk is probably no worse than driving with double-vision. Sally and Evelyn are organizing sacks by color, and Lou and I are trying to figure out which way the gophers will travel.
I pass on book club. Bunko is enough.