Ooh, y’all, I am just too happy and excited for words! It’s a beautiful day here in Kernersville, the sun is shining, the air is cool and crisp, and we have a new neighbor moving in to the house down the street. No, he is not a George Clooney look-alike. He’s better!
For those of you who don’t remember the house down the street from us, I used to call it ‘The Cleetus-Pootis House.’ I named it for my two neighbors, who I called Cleetus and Pootis. They were two honest-to-God mullet wearin’, beer swillin’ tattoo covered rednecks who provided me with more sheer entertainment than a case of Kendall Jackson, a whole key-lime pie and a Golden Girls marathon on Lifetime television for women! (Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it!)
Cleetus and Pootis loved nothing more than to drink beer and decorate their house for the holidays. I don’t just mean Christmas, y’all. They decorated for Thanksgiving, Halloween, hell, they even decorated for Arbor Day! I loved to sit on my front porch with a glass of KJ and watch the two of them stringing lights up all over the house, drinking cheap beer, and just getting into the holiday spirit. One day, one of them, I think it was Cleetus, tried to string lights from the roof over to a small dogwood tree in the yard and fell right off the roof. Jenda was concerned. “Mommy, is he dead?”
Of course not, Sweetie. If he was dead, he would have dropped his beer.
I loved the blown transformers, the sirens, and the holiday displays that could be seen from space. But all good things come to an end, and Cleetus and Pootis were no exception. I was (almost) inconsolable when they moved away, presumably to join the traveling company of ‘Deliverance.’ And I missed their decorations and lights. I swear, after they moved, my utility bill went up 60%.
So the Cleetus-Pootis house sat empty for a time. Then, it was rented to two sisters who loved nothing more than to party til they puked. Or until all of the rest of us puked from the loud music and endless parties. One of the gals was very pretty and friendly. I called her Barbie. Her sister was mean and never responded to any overtures of friendship. I called her Ugly Sister Midge. She reminded me of my doll, the ‘Happy to be Me Barbie’, who comes with a pair of bi-focals and her own little tweezers for those annoying chin hairs and a size 14 pantsuit from Talbot’s. Oh nevermind. I know how it sounds, but I’m really not bitter.
Anyway, these two seemed to be running the poor man’s version of the Playboy Mansion, so they never had the appeal for me that Cleetus and Pootis had. But even this arrangement did not last. We all know that Barbie is the doll who has everything. Apparently, Neighborhood Barbie also had everything, including a pesky little drug habit. One night, her dealer came by and shot up the front of the house. Barbie and Midge called Ken and Skipper to help them load up the pink Barbie corvette and they high-tailed it out of town.
So, the house was empty again, forlorn and dotted with bullet holes. I figured that the bullet holes would be enough to ensure that it remained empty, so imagine my surprise and delight when I saw someone moving in! At first, I wasn’t sure what was going on. A caravan of cars came down the street and pulled up in the driveway of the house. One of the drivers had his radio turned up really loud, and I could hear banjo music playing. I thought maybe Cleetus and Pootis were back so I ran outside. And then I saw the new neighbor pull up on his motorcycle. My new neighbor is a beer swillin’, tattoo covered, ZZ Top beard wearin’, honest-to-God redneck BIKER!
Sing along with me, folks. You know you want to….’Oh happy day!’
The first few days were pretty quiet and I couldn’t wait to see what local color this one would bring to the neighborhood. But it was hard to get a bead on this guy. I had to get some information, not that I am nosy or anything. I’m just naturally curious. So I did what any other self-respecting nosy, er, friendly neighbor would do. I sent Jerry down to investigate. And it wasn’t too hard. When Biker neighbor pulled up on his Harley and cracked open a beer with his Hooter waitress girlfriend, Jerry was off like a shot. After a little while, he came back so I asked for the scoop.
What’s he like?
“Okay, I guess.”
Where does he work?
Well what DID you find out?
“He’s got a Harley with a kickin’ exhaust note, electronic fuel injection, and a two cylinder V-Twin engine….”
In other words, what he found out was blah, blah, blah, man-shit, beer, Hooter Girls, blah, blah, blah.
“Oh, his name is James.”
James? No, that will never do. You just can’t be some ZZ Top lookin’ Harley dude named James. No, that won’t work. I am going to call him Duke.
So, I knew it was up to me to find out about Duke. I mean, the holidays are coming, and I want to know if we’re all in for a treat. I have asked Santa for a lower utility bill, so anything’s possible. I considered ways to weasel my way into the Dukedom. Here in North Carolina, many neighbors have a tradition of welcoming new neighbors with a home baked Amish Friendship Bread. I decided against this pretty quickly. I don’t think Duke is Amish. He also doesn’t look very friendly. I also considered the neighborhood fruitcake. No, y’all, that is NOT my nickname. See, here in the deep South, neighbors bring food for various special occasions. When Jerry and I moved in, someone left us a fruitcake as a welcome gift. But before y’all get all misty-eyed at the hospitality of small town America, I will have you know that this damn fruitcake has been making the rounds since the Reagan administration, and the ‘to/from’ gift tag is covered with scratched-out names and welcoming messages. After Jerry and I got it, we realized that one of our sneaky-ass neighbors, er, new friends, must have crept over here after dark and left it for us. Compelled to reciprocate such kindness, we left it for another neighbor. It was kind of fun, like some perverse children’s game of ‘Pin the Ancient Fruitcake on Your Unsuspecting Neighbors.’ Then it turned back up with a new card attached….”Screw you! Y’all are the new guys in the neighborhood and fair is fair!”
All that notwithstanding, I am excited about the possibilities of life down the street from Duke. So far, he seems like what you would expect from a bearded, tattooed biker dude, which is to say potentially unstable and very entertaining. Um, I mean, very neighborly. So I am going to do the friendly thing and go down to call on Duke myself to welcome him to our little slice of Heaven. And no goofy food or flowers, y’all. I am taking a pin-up calendar and a case of cheap beer. Oh, and that damn fruitcake. He IS the new guy now, and since Jerry fixed that wobbly leg on the kitchen table, we’re really not using it!