I am not a turtle. I’m a person. And because I’m a person, I have to deal with people. It’s part of the package that includes opposable thumbs and getting to eat all the other animals. I understand that animals also have to deal with people. Especially the animals that get eaten. Even turtles. But they don’t have to pretend to like people. And that’s the point I’m getting at. Turtles don’t make points.
Sometimes it’s really hard to like people when they live across the street from you and they run their leaf blower for 12 continuous hours. Guess what my across-the-street neighbor does?
He’ll run his leaf blower for 12 consecutive hours at least twice a year. He’ll do this from 6am until 6pm. Nonstop. On a Saturday. When I’m home with the kids. Usually in the fall.
This year I got lucky and horribly unlucky because a day after the leaves fell it became winter. So there wasn’t much opportunity for him to spend a long, luxurious day patiently ushering every leaf into the street. But then it was winter. Win-lose.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wouldn’t want to live across the street from me. My front door looks like a hillbilly’s maw. And my lawn has male pattern baldness. And I live there.
I’ll rake my leaves when I cut the grass in March. I’ll rake them with the mower. Along with the abandoned kid’s toys that emerge from the melted snow.
Can you picture my house now? The asphalt in my driveway has completely lost its battle with the weeds. It looks like a crack alley. And there are goddamn hornets everywhere.
I should spend some time on outdoor maintenance. I need to. I’m not saying that he’s wrong for caring about his property. In fact, it’s better to err on the side of doing too much. But 12 hours listening to that high pitched motor? I’d rather spend that time digging a deep hole and crawling in it and pulling the dirt back down on my grinning face.
He’ll stand out there, deep in a trance. This 60ish man with gray hair and white mustache, pointing his blowing tube-dong at the ground. Expressionless. Barely moving. He could be a sun dial. Birds land on him. By the time he’s drifted to the next square foot, several new leaves have fallen and he has to turn back.
What’s he thinking about? Has he achieved a Zen-like state? Is this meditation? Is he communicating with the dead? Is this his season to glory in death? Is he pagan? Can he hear the last wishes of the leaves? Do they speak to him as they tumble?
I hear the leaf blower through my walls. I feel it through my floorboards. My kids are beating the living hell out of each other. I’m non-turtle but I’m not anti-turtle.
What demons drove him out to his front lawn? Are they internal or external? If they’re external, are they coming for me next? Because I was a horrible altar boy and an even worse Catholic. I’d probably be the easiest person to possess. I’m probably possessed right now. Possessed by the laziest demon who just wants to bitch about neighbors and their annoying habits.
That constant buzz. I stare over coffee. I think about moving to Indianapolis. I heard it’s a great place to raise kids. And the cost of living is lower. And the Colts play there. Fuck them for cutting Manning. But FUCK the Bears for doubling down on Cutler. On failure. I think it might be warmer there too. I’m sure there’s a writing gig I can land.
I like turtles. We own a turtle. I named him King Motherfucker of Bitch Island. Because he stands on this rock and stretches his head way up when the sun shines in his aquarium. Just like King Motherfucker should.
Maybe the turtle is female. I don’t know. Someone once offered to check for me. If it is female, then just change her name to Queen Bitch of Motherfucker Island. Easy-peasy.
Suddenly there’s silence. It’s after 6 on a Saturday. I wonder if Gamera was possessed by a demon. My kids are eating mystery food because they’re hungry and in this house you eat what you find. Especially when dad is staring out the window at the neighbors again.
My neighbor’s lawn is leafless. He’s packed it all away.
A new leaf falls.