Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Neighborhood Watch

The first time I saw him, we had just closed on our new (to us) house--hadn't even moved in yet, and this skittish middle-aged man walked past my streaky new bay window in a halter top. His sneakers were spray painted blue. And was that a skirt or just a T-shirt tied at his waist? It was a little bit ambiguous. 
And I had that sinking feeling. 
This new neighborhood was supposed to be friendly. No gunshots in the night. No SWAT teams swooping in, and definitely No Crazy Neighbors. 
So much for that. 
We couldn't back out of the new house deal, but maybe this was an anomaly. 
Sigh. That afternoon he walked past three more times. 
Over the next week I saw him regularly. And since he seemed to be there to stay, I toyed with positivity. He was a charming feature of my new neighborhood, along with the house painted aqua blue and the classic cars with flat tires melting into driveways, and the little neighbor girl driving her tiny pink Jeep in the street. 
And when I thought about it I realized that he was providing an important service for free. In wealthy neighborhoods, you see, they actually pay creepy guys to go on patrol. The only real difference between my guy and theirs was the way he was outfitted. Instead of strange but harmless halter top things, their creepy guys wore pseudo police uniforms and carried guns. To my mind, that made their guys much more dubious. 
So I dubbed our guy "Neighborhood Watch". 
I started to wave when he came by, and eventually he got over his fear of me and waved back. 
He continued to loop past our house, month after month, stopping home to change his outfit between laps. Sometimes he wears two hats. Sometimes, a backless T-shirt/dress. 
Forcing myself to embrace him was a good decision. I've come to think of him less as a threat and more as an ally. After all, if any sinister strangers come to our neighborhood, he's sure to notice, and when we go on vacation we feel secure knowing that our house is being watched. 
It's been six months and I've become fond of Neighborhood Watch. As a matter of fact, I think that if he stopped walking by every day I'd miss him.