September 26

National Good Neighbor Day


You glance out the window and notice your neighbor, Gloria Talcott, heading toward your house.  She holds a measuring cup in her hand.

Many a day, Gloria walked slowly along the street and turned up your driveway.  She was always running out of ingredients for her cakes and pies and cookies.

For some reason, she often ran out of the more expensive items, such as real vanilla, or real butter.  If you asked her later to replace the items she’d offer some artificial, can’t-believe-it’s not substitute — probably knowing you’d decline.

That’s not the reason you installed the fence.

These days, Gloria is still moving slow, and the measuring cup bobs up and down almost as if it’s attached to her hand.

You’re surprised at the sense of purpose she still has.  Is it possible Gloria could still be thinking about fruit fillings, the flakiness of crust, or the smell of yeast as dough rises?

She’s wearing a long dress that fits like a bathrobe.  A scorch mark, something like an ironing accident, mars the terrycloth fabric at the level of her waist.  Beneath the hem of the dress, her feet move forward in teetering steps.

As she nears your property line, Gloria lifts the measuring cup as if in greeting.  She keeps walking, barely noticing the fence until her body pushes up against it.  The physical contact activates the installed security measures:  an electrical charge sparks through the chain link and rail, reinforcing the scorch mark along the waist of Gloria’s dress.

Your neighbor dances back, then tries again.  Just like yesterday, she doesn’t notice the smoke rising from her clothing.  She tries a few more times, sparks flying — but she doesn’t cry out, and doesn’t drop the measuring cup.

Eventually, she turns away and shambles up the street.

What was that line from the poem, about  how “Good fences make good neighbors”…?

Well, you hope the fence holds tomorrow, and you that still have electricity to operate the security feature.  And you hope worse neighbors than Gloria don’t decide to visit.