We have a lovely wooden deck behind our house, one of the reasons I wanted it in the first place. I imagined myself doing yoga, swathed in intoxicating smells and sights and sounds, feeling my nerves gently calmed by the hum of nature’s breath.
But I quickly discovered that most of the time, it’s either too hot or too wet to do yoga there, and although we don’t have many mosquitoes, the flies quickly chase away any notion of Zen budding in the yogi’s heart. But early in the morning, if I get the timing just right, I can roll out my mat in the last of the dew and feel the sun’s first rays kiss my face as they peek through the trees behind our garden.
I was having one of those wondrous days, feeling the Zen, my blood and breath moving as one. Then I heard someone shouting. I ignored it at first but slowly realized the person was shouting at me. I was in down dog with one leg in the air. I looked under my arm and saw that the shouter was Fukwitz Jr. from next door, a man I would guess is in his mid-forties. I’m no Victorian shrinking violet, but the words flying from his mouth were pure obscenity, the sort of oral flatulence that would make a sailor blush. F-bombs were falling willy-nilly, partnered with other words I sometimes use myself, but one in particular that I NEVER say.
Apparently, I was horrible to Junior’s mother, Mrs. Fukwitz, which is weird because I’ve only spoken to her once. She was rude, I was sulky, answering her criticism in monosyllables. There was nothing more to it. Somehow in Junior’s twisted mind, this got blown up like a Mr. Potato Head balloon at a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
After raging at my utter disrespect for the (F-bomb!) elderly, Junior said he’d spoken to ALL the (F-bomb!) neighbors and they all (F-bomb!) hate me, which is odd. The only other neighbor we’ve met is a man with a smoothie truck who warned us that Junior has a horrible reputation all along our street. Aside from that, anyone who hates me without meeting me is as stupid as Junior and I don’t give an F-bomb what they think.
The tirade went on and on. I was stunned, seeing images of the Tasmanian Devil drooling with impotent rage as Bugs Bunny dances around him, Wile E. Coyote blowing his own head off as cannons backfire in his face. (Meep-meep!) Words went through my head: Bully! Coward! Mama’s boy!
But I kept my peace, picked up my mat and met Rochi at the door just as Junior shouted that he was going to kick my ass, which nearly gave us both the giggles. Even in my current physical state, I would flatten him with one right hook and joy in my heart. The poor dear really doesn’t know me.
It gives me comfort to know that Junior is nothing but a playground bully with bubbles of spit at the corners of his mouth, a dead frog in his pocket and lice in his hair. But the anger, the need to vent it on a stranger, is beyond my comprehension. I’ve met bullies but had never come face to face with a genuine sociopath before. Part of me was mortified. What had happened to this person to fill him with such anger, such a driving need to hurt other people?
I’m not naïve enough to believe in paradise, but was feeling comfortable, welcomed, starting to feel like we are home. But that experience poked a hole in my soul. I could handle the foul language. It was nothing I hadn’t heard before, but I had never had such fiery venom directed at me. The generous part of me knows Junior is sick, possibly not responsible for what he does, maybe not even aware of it. The less generous part of me hopes he falls into a crack in the lava and burns for all eternity while flea infested slugs nibble on his danglers.
Again and again, kind and well-meaning people have said that we deserve to be here, to live this life, after all we went through last year. I have wondered how much ‘deserving’ has to do with it. At the same time, though, did I deserve to be shouted at like that? What could Junior possibly hope to gain? Did he expect me to panic, to crumble into a weeping puddle of despair? Did he hope I would fight back, get into a profanity pissing match?
What he did accomplish is to put a veneer of tarnish on paradise, which is probably what he wanted. It makes me profoundly sad to think that gives him satisfaction. But more than sad, I’m angry. He’s made me afraid of my own home and that breaks my heart.
I’ve run the “what if it happens again” scenario in my head a thousand times. What to do? Call the police? Turn the hose on him? Tattle to his mommy? Make the sign of the cross and pray for him? Do a little jig and pretend I’m a nutbag, too?
None of the above, I think. I plan to keep ignoring him, the whole Fukwitz clan, and wait for him to get bored or the hedge Rochi planted to grow tall and thick. There’s the silver lining. Things grow tall and thick in paradise, whether you want them to or not.