Saturday, July 24, 2010
I was deadheading the salvia today when I remembered a conversation I had with one of my neighbors a month or so ago We had been home for about four days, I was still unsure what time zone I was in much less what day of the week it was so I was a little rough around the edges from the jet lag. The flowers had bolted while we were gone and were close to their peak even before we left for our trip in early June. While we had been away the weather had been too hot too fast especially in the south bed. My salvia was spent, the big pink showy things that threaten to take over each year were done, and the dianthuses bordering the front walk were done, too. Rather than let them go to seed naturally, like I would in late August, I gave them all drastic haircuts murmuring little prayers that I wasn’t killing the plants and they would bloom again before next May or June. I’m crouched down in my perennials, surrounded by the hum of bees, enjoying a hot dry morning when I hear a familiar but not entirely welcome voice from the public path adjacent to our south yard. Our neighbor, Mrs. Kravitz and her husband George, were walking their elderly and fat golden retriever.
“Oh your flowers were so pretty! Why are you doing that to them” Mrs. K said, her voice dripping with judgment because that’s how she always sounds.
“So they bloom again. They bolted while we were away, just like my radishes and salad greens. Too hot too fast this year.” I looked up at her squinting against the sunlight and really wishing I didn’t have to be nice to this woman.
“Are you sure about that? I’ve never heard of Salvia coming back.” I swear I could hear her tongue click against her teeth. She couldn’t stand The Girl and I and really wanted to see us fail at this whole redoing a distressed house thing because we are the scourge of the earth and everything Jesus hates. Whenever she sees us her disappointment that we are gay and not just like her family radiates through her hypocritical eyes and threatens to beat us over the head. I wish I could say I can’t stand this woman but really what I feel for her is beyond the emotion of hatred. I feel sadness she is so incredibly intolerant of us not only because we are queer but because we are democrats and we are not Catholic. That’s a lot of criteria we fall short in. She is a Christian in bigots clothing. During election season, they had an anti-reproductive rights campaign sign in their yard and she approached our next door neighbor and told C she was going to hell if C didn’t vote yes on this particular referendum. (I never got a chance to ask her how many babies they were going to adopt…) A couple of months later Mrs. K rushed over to C’s house and was terribly upset she might sell it to “that homosexual couple who were looking at it last week.” When C told me about this, I saw red. The following Sunday was the open house and how I wished I knew a bunch of drag queens and really Nelly queens so I could round them up for a tour of the house. The evil fantasy of squealing over dressed drag queens tripping up the front walk made me cackle like an evil genius. A couple of years ago, she and George refused to go to their across the street neighbor’s wake because he died an AIDS related death. And they pointedly said this is why they weren’t going. They can barely bring themselves to speak to me when I‘m outside and I always without fail give them a cheery hello, trying to take the high road. Because someday I’m going to get a chance to tell her about the Jesus I know who believes in loving your neighbor. But the icing on the cake was definitely last month when she stood on my property dispensing gardening advice and her yard is a boring mess of weeds and petunias. All of this flashed though my mind as I looked up at her, praying God would speak through me and silence Edgy June Cleaver.
Isn’t it wonderful we are gifted with filters and the ability to speak internally because this is what Evil June said before nice June spoke up:
Actually you stupid judgmental woman, I’m not sure if they will bloom or not because all I know about gardening is what I learned from a handful of magazine articles and gardening last summer. So you know what? If I’m wrong you can come over here and tell me just how wrong I am, which I’m sure you won’t hesitate doing. So now just move along with your self-righteous self and feel assured you are the perfect specimen of human
“Mrs. Kravitz, it’s going to be interesting to see if they come back isn’t it? These are all perennials so my guess is they will be back bigger and better in a week or so. You and George have a nice day.” I beamed at her as I turned back to my work willing her to disappear.
It’s been tempting the last couple of weeks to make her a big bouquet of Salvia and just lay it on her doorstep as a neighborly gesture of good will. It was also tempting to ask if we could borrow their extremely gay rainbow paper party ball thingy I can see from the street in their garage. It would have been nice to hang on our porch this June 28th to celebrate the 41st anniversary of the beginning of The Gay Rights Movement.
But I didn’t. Maybe next year if it’s still in their garage and I’ll even give her a bundle of salvia in return for the loan.