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Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2001
I found myself back at the grocery store yesterday. I'm mindful of the need to do the week's shopping at least once a month myself. So we doesn't run out of life's little staple items. Cashews and motor oil. The stuff Ally never buys.

Since work is a little slow this week I went in the middle of the day. Which, as you can imagine, made me the only male in the place outside of the employee catagory. With one exception.

Neil the toenail mangler. My former neighbor.

Ugh, I can hardly bring myself to describe this. It's one of those life situations which you try to forget, or at best, talk about with close friends only, in hushed and nervous tones.

We live on a cul-de-sac of 12 houses. One of them is a rental, people come and go on a two year basis. Neil and his entourage had their stint about 6 years ago. Neil, the wife, the aunt, the little kid. He had another child of college age who stopped by periodically. On moving-in day, Ally popped over to do the meet and greet. That evening, they returned the favor.

Neil and the wife showed up on the porch with a store bought pie and insisted on sharing it with us. Should've tipped me off right there. They needed an excuse to case the joint. I should mention that they were, and are, the most unnattractive of people. Neil had buck teeth, shifty eyes encased in inch thick glasses and a penchant for '70's disco attire, right down to the gold chain. His wife was 4 feet nothing of Pillsbury doughboy pastryness. She made short work of that pie. She was also mildly famous for her ability to hear voices from beyond, as Neil clarified so enthusiastically for us.

The aunt was given to driving her wheezing, multi-hued Chevy to her part time job at the Salvation Army thrift store. The balance of her day was spent chain smoking in the car while it was parked out front. Seems that Neil didn't allow smoking in the house. Unless, of course, it was smoke from the incense the wife used to dial in her voices.

I've been wracking my brain trying to remember their young son's name, but have so successfully blocked any memory of it that I'll just call him Junior. The hideous result of genetics spawned by Neil and his wife. Junior had one brown eye and one silver one. Not light blue, silver. An Alaskan Malamute eye. An evil eye. Unfortunately, he was the same age as my son Ben and naturally, the Neil gang thought this too good to be true. Their delight was made whole when they discovered we had a pool in the backyard.

Yeah, I have a pool. Don't go making me out to be Rockefeller. It came with the package, you see. And it's a stone bitch to maintain.

We had a sort of halting hospitality for these people. At the time, there were a lot of kids in the neighborhood and they all spent summer afternoons in the pool, it being the only one on the block. So we couldn't very well not invite, or allow I should say, the presence of Junior the Husky at these soiree's. For a while at least, Ben seemed pleased to have a boy his age around.

I happened to be home on the day this pleasant suburban scene started to unravel. Playing lifeguard out by the pool. Which involved me zoning out with a book and a beer while a half dozen kids splashed away. But it got eerily quiet and I looked up.

Junior was sitting on the deck chewing his toenails. With great enthusiasm. The other kids were in the pool, fascinated and more than a little revolted. They got even more so when Junior announced he was trying to dislodge some strange fungus thereto.

Enter, stage right, the ever hip disco Neil. "Ahhhh, right on cue," I thought. "Get this little toenail chomper the hell outta here."

It was not to be. Neil slithered down next to appendage boy and proceeded to show him how to better position the offending foot. For better grip, I suppose.

I coughed for attention and suggested to Neil that perhaps it would be better to take Junior home, where he could benefit from more modern dermatology techiniques. What I meant to say was more along the line of "Take this circus act somewhere else," and I'm sure my tone of voice conveyed that sentiment.

I got a full blast of the evil eye from Junior. Indignant, Neil took his precious one by the hand and shuffled his way back to the dark castle.

I forgot to mention their last name - Adams. The Adams Family. I could not make this up if I tried.

Oh I could go on and on. Like the time Neil called me at one in the morning because his computer had crashed when he tried to load porn software on it (yes, he made sure I understood this), or when the wife had a bad experience with a disposessed spirit and ran naked and screaming into the street in the middle of the day, or the rampage that occured when Neil caught aunty puffing a Marlboro in the house and began heaving her possesions out the front door, or Junior riding his BMX bike through all the neighbors lawns at any and all hours of the day and night. I have one rather salty neighbor who threatened to "shoot that little sumbitch next time he decides to do doughnuts in my grass." Or the fact that the police and EMT's had memorized their name and address and came by with flashing lights once a month for reasons never properly explained. I'll tell you, it was an exciting time in our little corner of the world.

Like I said, I had pretty much put them out of mind. They moved out after the landlord, who lives out of state mind you, received one too many complaints and gave 'em the boot. I'd heard they took up roost in another neighborhood about two miles west of here.

Until yesterday. I was breezing through the Kroger store and happened to sense the gaze. The stare. Looked up just in time to see Neil whip around and scuttle away. Dressed all in white, except for the socks. He had none. On his cloven hoofed little feet were only black wing tips. But the gold chain was still there. I could swear I heard him giggling maniacally to himself as he bussed his cart swiftly toward the pet food aisle. For dinner entrees, no doubt.

I'm sure you've had a grocery experience where you see someone you know and really want them out of the store before you get caught at the cashier and are forced into conversation with them. You duck and hide and draw out the shopping experience as long as possible. It probably set me back an extra $20 in stuff I didn't need just to buy myself some time and get Lurch out of sight.

I'd say it was worth it. At least he didn't bring Junior along. I didn't bring along any silver bullets, or a gun either. I rarely feel the need when buying groceries. Not in my neighborhood. But I'll bet that evil eye has been honed to a degree that would stop a bus in its' tracks by now.

I wonder if a Coors Light can would've worked. The whole Silver Bullet thing, you know.

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