Sippi takes a walk and admires a neighbor.
On a street not far from here lives a man. I do not know him, but I have waved and said hello. He is salubrious in a way I admire. He has lived here forever and a day, I imagine, and watched his town disintegrate. He refuses to go along. His house is conspicuous. It is so yellow that Van Gogh would throw in the towel and go back to the store and start shopping for raw umber. He crawls up and down it, and all around it, and it is as neat as a pin. He does everything himself. He put up a big fence around his yard, an enormous undertaking, and never flagged until he was done. Every surface is clean and bright and in good repair, everywhere you can see. It is the only structure in this town I can describe in that way.
We stopped walking down his street a while back because his neighbors were disreputable. On one side was a house gone to seed for forty years or more. The denizens had approximately 150 snot-nosed urchins who played in the street, which I rather enjoyed seeing, but they kept two, hair-trigger pitbulls the size of donkeys, and you could never tell if they were tied up or not. These animals represented a desire to publicly contract ebola so you could get your own seat on the subway of life. Fine by me.
On the other side of the neat house was a two-family affair that looked in rather better shape, but that’s not to say good. There were no obvious structural issues visible to my eye at two hundred yards, which is more than I can say about my house. The house had been occupied by a series of Hatfields and McCoys, cars by the dozens, but somehow never with an even number of tires, abandoned toys everywhere, stray cats outside and stray people inside. I never saw an actual person who lived there outside, a mark of the breed. One minute the window curtain would be a confederate flag, then the rental merry-go-round would spin and a Sponge-Bob beach towel would take its place. The stray cats were the only constant.
The man in the perfect yellow house persevered. He painted his driveway and waxed his lawn and dusted his roof shingles. He polished his trees and chromed the inside of his mailbox. He was adamantine. He was, and is, a species of wonderful.
He must have gotten weary of the noise, and the trouble, and the endless low-rent hubbub. I testify to you, with God as my witness, that when the houses on both sides of him decided to spin the wheel of occupancy one more time, he bought them both, and he gave them the delenda est. Flattened them. There was a pile of lead-painted pickup sticks on one side, waiting for the next round of dumpsters, and the one on the other side was nothing but a patch of straw with the first hint of grass yet to poke through.
That man knows something. Something important. It’s not that he knows exactly what would show up in the two houses when the For Sale or For Rent signs came down. He’s not pretending to tell fortunes at the fair. What he knew, for a dead cert, was that there was no chance of any change bringing anything but: Worse.
I should get out more often.
Read the whole thing.