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Monday, September 4, 2006

Book Excerpt: Mrs. Kravitz & the Neighbors

Book Excerpt - Mrs. Kravitz and the Neighbors...
By request, here's an excerpt from one of the chapters of my book (should I ever finish it). They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so let me say I totally ripped the footnote idea from Jen Lancaster. It makes it so much easier to create lucidity. Thank you, Jen, and should it get finished and published, I'll thank you formally and shamelessly plug your fabulous writing. So, the footnotes at the end are my little thoughts on the subject. Please do let me know what you think...Seriously. I like criticism, I welcome it, so negative thoughts are ok, too.. email, comment, whatever!

I don't know if it's something we all have on our streets, and so I would have had one anyway; but, I have a "Mrs. Kravitz." Ever watch Bewitched? Great show, wish I could do the wrinkly-nose thing - that was too cute! At any rate, on the show there was the nosy neighbor Mrs. Kravitz. She would actually peer through the windows with Binoculars to get an idea of what was going on in the Stevens' house. In all of the places I have lived before, I have never had a "Mrs. Kravitz" - but, now that I'm single, I do! She has made it her mission in life, it seems, to know what's going on in my life and then to make sure all the "appropriate people" know about it. Which usually means my other neighbors. Gossip, being what it is, is so much fun that by the time it makes it back to me it's a wonder I'm not infamous in my own neighborhood.

When we first moved in, we took our time. It was not a "done in one weekend" kind of move. In fact, we didn't really finish moving into this house until someone was ready to move into the last one. Then there was a very hectic running-around-and-throwing-things-into-cars weekend. I guess, with all the stuff being shuttled over, it looked like I was packing up. It must have, because my friend (and coincidentally, landlady) got a call to inform her that I was packing up and heading out! So, now that I've set the scene, let's join in on the television show already in progress:

Phone rings. Why does the phone always ring when there's something in my hands? It's like it knows it's going to be a bad/difficult time to answer, so it's time to ring. So, I set down the Ginormous piece of artwork that I'm trying desperately not to nick on a wall, and answer. "Crystal's moving service, we're here to please... how can I help you?"

"Oh my God, so it IS true? Why are you moving??? I just got a call from one of the neighbors that you were packing up... I didn't believe it..." It's Liz, my landlady. I like Liz. She's fun, she's about my age, and her boyfriend is a Cop. Built in security; you've gotta love that.

"I'm not moving OUT. I'm moving stuff IN. Someone rented out the other house this weekend and I've got to get the rest of my junk out of there. WHO told you I was moving out??"

"You know - it's Mrs. Kravitz." Ok, so if I wasn't sweaty, preoccupied, and on a rather tight deadline... I probably would have found that funny. I am all of those things, though; so, really, I'm just annoyed. "She called me at work. She was very concerned that you were going to leave me high and dry. Told me she saw you in the driveway loading the car and then you went away, came back and there was a whole new set of stuff the next time she came out.

I'm floored. Do people really have nothing better to do? Maybe I should be flattered? Am I that exotic? Either way, Liz was waiting for a response and so now is not the time to ponder that. "Ok, seriously, if she's going to spy, she should pay better attention. I was taking stuff OUT of my car, not putting it in. People should mind their own business; I love this house, I'm buying it from you and you're going to have to bury me in it.. unless I ever get married again.. which at this point, is doubtful. But, if I do, I will STILL have this house, we'll just rent it out. Don't listen to Mrs. Kravitz. Can I finish unloading my car now? Because I've got like 12 more trips to go and I'm running out of daylight, and more importantly, patience."

Liz laughs. "Ok girl, I knew I had nothing to worry about... give me a call later if you need anything." Again, I like Liz, but I have to laugh a little, too. Because the reality is if she REALLY did know, she wouldn't have called. That's the trouble with the Mrs. Kravitz types.. they spin their stories in such a way that you have to wonder a bit. I'm sure, at first, she knew it was bunk... but, over time, it ate on her. And that's what the Kravitz people count on!


Two weeks later, I had my first official guest. Andy, my best friend, was coming over to the house. Now, why his brother Jim, whom I'm dating, isn't the first person over, I really couldn't say. And maybe I should ponder THAT fact a little more? It gets added to the list of stuff to figure out (1) and I continue lighting candles.

I'm ALL about ambience. I think that you should pay attention to what makes your guests comfortable and then do it. You want your house to be a place people enjoy being at, right?? Andy always has candles lit at his house, music playing in the background and he likes a shot of Jager on arrival. Since I like all those things, minus the Jager (2), I really have no problem setting things up that way.

I've tripped over ten toys. Now, our house is laid out in such a way that there is somewhat of a division between "Kiddy-world" and "Adult-land." Can't say the two never shall meet, because the girls and I DO play games downstairs and when we watch the Disney Channel or a movie together, it's typically in the living room. So, one or two forgotten things does not bother me. (3) There is very little reason, though, to find anything down here. Ten things is beyond rediculous and since Mr. Bunny made me darn near drop my red wine on my light brown carpet, I am not amused. But, of course, the kids aren't here to reprimand (4), so it gets added to the pile of things on the stairs for them to address later.

Andy comes over and we have a lovely evening listening to music and drinking far too much wine. He's had jager too, of course; so he's too blitzed to drive home when I shut things down in about an hour. I offer him the couch (5) to signal that it's time for him to think about whether or not he should drink any more. He's outside smoking on the front porch (6). "Nah man, thanks - I'll just drive over to Jim's where I can crash on Brenda's bed." he slurs back, far too loudly for the middle of the night. Have you ever noticed everything is more quiet after midnight? That's because the rest of the world is sleeping... I hope that didn't wake up Mrs. Kravitz.
I'm ok with him driving to Jim's. He lives in the neighborhood and at this hour, there's very little chance that Andy's going to run over any small children. As I'm finishing up this train of thought, I'm interrupted by "Hey Crystal, come check OUT the SIZE OF THIS BUG!!! THIS IS THE BIGGEST roach I've EVER seen! Oh, look.. he's running away. Quick! HELP ME FIND THIS ROACH - I CAN'T FIND MY ROACH." Oh dear God, I've got to get out there before half the neighborhood thinks I'm either a druggie or a drug-dealer.

"Andy, shut UP! People are sleeping and I don't want them waking up to 'I can't find MY roach.' Since when do bugs belong to you anyway, and what the hell am I paying Terminix for??" With that, I drag him back in the house, scanning for lights that have been flipped on in the homes of my neighbors. Still dark. Maybe I'm ok. The roach has evidentally run off into the landscaping. At least it didn't run into my house. So, it's time for Andy to go... I feel like I'm babysitting at this point and I'm ready to go to bed.

Morning comes all too soon. Fortunately, I rarely get drunk, so I have no hang-over. I'm not, however, ready for the phone call that greets me before 8 am. It's Liz. "Hey lady, whatcha' doing??" Without a pause to let me answer, she continues, "Dallas traffic sucks and I heard you had a really good time last night."

"What are you doing in Dallas on a Saturday morning??" The fog of sleep lifts from my brain long enough to digest the second half of what she said, "What? Wait a minute... how did YOU know... damnit. Mrs. Kravitz?"

"Girl, you know you can't do anything without that woman knowing about it. She said you had some strange guy's truck over there.. not Jim's car. Are there details to dish?"

"Yeah. It's Andy - Jim's brother - so no story to tell there." I pause and thinking through, ask with great hesitation..."Did she mention anything about a roach??"
(1) along with world peace, how to pay for Nikki's horseback riding lessons or if she should even have them, and about 1200 other "to-dos."
(2.) I'd just as soon drink wine
(3.) However, they have a loft area set up with a small living space (TV, coffee table, bookshelves, chairs) in addition to two very good-sized rooms and closets any female over 5 would envy.
(4.) There is nothing wrong with reprimanding your children; this is teaching them, and in fact, part of the job description. It does NOT make you a "bitch" or a bad parent, contrary to the beliefs of some. It will, most likely, help keep your kids from being on "America's Most Wanted" or divorced 10 times some day.
(5.) He is, after all, my best friend and so that is part of the job description.
(6.) I don't smoke. Between not smoking myself, having allergies, and an asthmatic child, I don't allow it in my home, either. Gotta do that on the porch and don't you leave your spent butts in my landscaping. I have an urn for that, thank you.

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