My Neighbors, My Cell Phone and Me

Just got home from seeing my therapist.  Made and ate a peanut butter sandwich while sitting in front of my computer.  Thinking about the days ahead.  Decide to pimp my oldest son, now a New Yorker, and his wife, about how great the weather is here.  I would take a picture outside and e-mail it to them so they could see what they have to look forward to when they come to visit for a week on Thursday. Trying to recall where my camera  is.  Then I remember I have a hard time downloading pictures from the camera to the computer.  Decide to take the pic with my cell phone.  Looking outside and liking the clear view of the mountains.  Best way to get that shot is from our dog’s “poop” yard right outside our bedroom.  Got the cell phone and went outside.  Looking for a good shot.  Move closer to the neighbor’s wood fence.  Still not getting the shot I want.  Walking and looking into the phone at the same time in hopes of getting a good photo, finally extending my arms with the phone in my hands over the neighbor’s fence.  Hit the button to get the picture and in doing so, dropping the camera; over the fence and into the neighbor’s backyard. Neighbors who I have never met.  I didn’t know them and they wouldn’t know me. I realize I have a good sized, but manageable problem so I call Harry who tells me I have to go over to the neighbor’s house to retrieve my phone.

“Can I wait until you get home?”  I ask.

“Don’t be ridiculous, just go over there and get it!”


“Do you think I should drive?”
Just go,” says Harry.

Walk out of house and around the corner, past Dennis and Sandy’s’ house, and then two more houses after that. Pass the guy on the other side of the street we call the Sentinel.  He paces back and forth in his driveway holding a long stick and talking on his cell phone.  Wave.  He waves back.   Arrive at my destination: a house looking like it was kept up just enough to keep it functional.  There are four cars in the driveway, including a newer model BMW white sports car and another older model car with a license plate that reads “With U.”

Knock on the door.  A woman appearing to be the housekeeper answers.


I explain what happened.

“Well, she says, “You can’t come in they are all sleeping.”

Look at my watch: 1:15 pm.  And I don’t know who “they” are.

“I can take you to the backyard, though.  But I’m not going up there with you.  I have seen the rats.”

I ponder the rat dilemma and decide I was going to get my phone anyway.

The good news is there was no rats.  The bad news is the phone is not in the backyard.

I would have to go one more house over. Not happy about this.

Hit the sidewalk again.  Walk to the house next door (on the east side).  Don’t really recognize this house, although I’ve driven 31 years down this street.  That’s a long time.  In fact it exceeds the time I spent growing up on the east coast.  Wondering if there is unwritten rule about how long you’ve lived in place and where you consider ‘home.”  I think about that and don’t come to any conclusion.  Anyway, I knock on the door.  Again, another house that would probably be a tear down if the property was ever sold. I turn around to see a car pulling up the driveway.  Could see in the window of the passenger side front seat.  And there is a man looking like he could be cast as extra in a Night of the Living Dead sequel.  I don’t know what happened to him.  He is the homeowner. I think. Bleeding slightly through a couple of bandages. Eye injury suggests perhaps a fall or a fall from a stroke. Head is weirdly skeleton- like on one side.   I estimate late 70’s to early 80’s.  Decide that he probably is too old to get the shit beaten out of him even though that’s how he looks.  Has a younger woman with him.  She identifies herself as the old man’s daughter and I identify myself as one of her father’s neighbors, tell her the story about my cell phone in her father’s yard. She is holding a clipboard and some papers. The daughter seems a little scared of me.  I am completely unarmed; no keys, no purse and of course, no cell phone.  The daughter spends a minute or two talking with me and decides I am “safe.” She lets me in the backyard.  I head for the spot in this neighbor’s yard where I know I will find my phone. Pick up the phone from the base of a tree.  Go past the daughter who is still leery of me.  Decide to do my “ditsy” Calabasas housewife routine and I channel my inner Hidden Hills self:

“I am so-o-o embarrassed.  I can’t believe that I dropped my cell phone in your Dad’s backyard.  I’m so-o-o sorry I had to bother you.  Look, I was holding the phone over the fence to take a picture of the mountains (Again…) I am so-o-o embarrassed”.

The stone-faced daughter is not buying it, even though it is my truth.

I proceed to tell her about how cold it is in New York and how I want to take a picture of beautiful Tarzana for my oldest son and his wife, ’cause they’ve been getting a lot of snow and they will be here on Thursday.

Stoneface says something to me that I can’t hear well enough to understand.  I apologize again. I resist the temptation to say, “Sending healing energy your way.”

Note to self:  Table the block party idea.

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