I was walking home from the bus stop this afternoon and I noticed an older gentleman watering his lawn, right next to the sidewalk where I would be passing in a few steps. As I got closer I could see that he was dressed in long pants, long sleeves twice over, and socks and shoes. On a 90-degree afternoon. Smoking... uh... something. With very bloodshot eyes. As I got closer he started talking to me:
Neighbor: Do you an X.I. in bo della D?
Me: Umm.... uh.... Sorry, what did you say? (actually the only thing I could get my brain to formulate was "repite por favor??")
Neighbor: Do you have any sky-tee bodella D?
Me: Umm.... I'm sorry but I didn't catch that. Say again? (thinking I'm going to have to ask him to repeat his question 5 times over before I understand him... and I'm not sure I want to understand him, considering this appears to be the same old man in the same front yard from last summer, who, when I passed him, made a very bold comment about my... figure. Lord, I know I should be friendly and get to know my neighbors, but... this guy? Really? Well... I should at least be kind to him.)
Neighbor: Do you have an exciting bottle of Deet?
Me: Uhmmm..... (very confused at this point)
Neighbor proceeds to tell me all about how "a young woman 'just a block that way!' (points down the street) contracted west nile virus last year and the doctors at Mr. Luke's (he interrupts himself to say that he can't call it 'Saint Luke's' anymore, because there are no saints left in that billing department on the third floor) thought she had the flu and didn't diagnose it as West Nile until a week later and she died, and then there was that other lady 'just a block that way!' (points the other direction) who got it last summer and she died too, and he calls those orange bottles of Deet exciting because they will keep you from dying of mosquitos, so be careful that you cover every bit of skin with it because you don't want mosquitos to attack you, and you know, when the city was first built, they installed underground ponds all over the north end, but they aren't hooked up to the sewer system, so they sit still all summer long, like the one at the end of my street, just over there, and..."
Still talking a mile a minute, his cell phone rang, so he fished for it in his shirt pocket and promptly turned his back to me, while juggling his cigarette (I use the term "cigarette" loosely here) and trying not to drop the garden hose...
Can I still be a friendly neighbor... from across the street?