Monday, June 20, 2011


9:02 p.m. "Man, I wish there was someplace we could go and just sit around outside for a while."

It was Saturday night and me, Amy, and my best friend Jason had just left D'alessandro's in Rock Island with full bellies and good moods -- and it just seemed like a waste to end the night. Early spring is my absolute favorite time of the year. It's that small fragile window when you can be outside without humidity or spiders or mosquitos or moths or mayflies or all that other gross stuff they call "nature."

That was when Amy pointed out the obvious.

"Umm, duh," she said. "You DID buy a house. You have a porch now."

Wow. I DO have a porch now. Growing up in the country, our patio looked out on a serene view of a massive front yard, drifting hills of pasture, and nature aplenty. It was a midwestern paradise for some, I'm sure, but I never thought about hanging out there. If I was going to be outside, I wanted to look at something more exciting than grass.

When I first moved to college, my dorm window overlooked the parking lot, and I remember spending those first few nights away from home with the lights out, just staring out and people watching. In Rock Island, people watching is a way of life. You can drive around anywhere in town and spot folks on their porches just watching the world go by. Now, I've got a porch of my own, and that's where the three of us headed as soon as we got back.

9:12 p.m. Talk immediately turns towards the giant tree that grows in my front yard. It's majestic, but is it growing out over the road too low for passing tall trucks? Amy thinks maybe. Jason and I think it's fine.

9:14 p.m. Jason is now standing in the middle of the street, holding a 5' rake over his 7' frame to demonstrate that it touches the lowest tree limb at 12'. This is a nifty science experiment, except none of us know the height of the average truck. We decide that not enough trucks run down our street to care.

9:18 p.m. Amy: "What's the verb for when you invent something and then make it?" This is the intellectual high point of the entire evening.

9:20 p.m. We are now quabbling over whether "create," "produce," or "manufacture" is the best answer to this question.

9:22 p.m. A dude walks by, swearing into his cell phone -- but we rapidly realize he's not swearing INTO his phone, but AT his phone, which has apparantly failed to send a text message of some importance.

9:23 p.m. We agree that "manufacture" is definitely best. Trouble is, I can't remotely remember why she asked this in the first place.

9:25 p.m. Our two neighbors across the street couldn't be more different. House on the Right is a bit of a fixer-upper -- collapsed porch, overgrown lawn (already?!), and blocked windows emitting dim light from rooms in which I can only assume boiling vats of soup await curious neighborhood children. House on the Left is so immaculately landscaped that dark magic MUST be involved.

7:28 p.m., Three Days Into the Future: I just went to type, "our two neighbors across the street," but it came out "our two neighbors across the hall." Parts of my brain still live in my old apartment, methinks.

9:28 p.m. We notice that behind the two houses and across an alley, there's activity in an upstairs window, but it's too far away to see anything except a blob that may or may not be in a shiny red dress. Amy lectures us that leering into a stranger's window isn't just creepy, it might actually be illegal. Point taken, but are you a peeping tom if you're too far away to even ascertain the sex of your target? It's up for debate.

9:35 p.m. A guy walks by and asks us if we have seven cents. I'm pretty sure the same guy asked me for seven cents over five years ago down in the District. I hope he hasn't been seeking the same seven cents all these years.

9:40 p.m. Red Blob keeps repeating the same motions over and over again: She steps in front of the window, and then back... and to the left. Back... and to the left. It's like watching the peeping tom version of the Zapruder film. We try not to stare, but it's the only motion at the moment, and it's red and shiny. But what on Earth is he/she doing? The cha-cha slide?

9:45 p.m. You know a car stereo is impressive when you can clearly hear song lyrics while it's parked at a gas station over a block away. A rapper ensures us that it's alright to smoke narcotics because "that's how it's supposed to be when you're living young and wild and free." I, meanwhile, wonder if I should take a Claritin.

9:47 p.m. Amy heads inside. We worry she's become bored of the porch life until we realize she's running around the house, performing every mundane task she can think of to see if ANY of them involve the back-and-to-the-left motion of Red Blob. "Maybe she's doing dishes... oddly." Are you a peeping tom if you ask your girlfriend if she knows where the telephoto lens for your camera is? The answer is a definite yes and we think twice.

9:50 p.m. Awesome! My wireless works on my porch. Amy and Jason talk about how nice nature is or something lame like that. I, meanwhile, watch highlights of tonight's NASCAR race.

9:55 p.m. The three of us are staring squinty-eyed at Red Blob when a Rock Island police cruiser drives by. The officer waves and asks how we're doing. The answer? SHAMEFULLY, that's how we do. Thank God I didn't grab that camera. Time to look at ANYTHING but Red Blob. Our choice? The black blob that appears to be hanging on the wall behind Red Blob. We are sad, sad people. But what IS that thing?

10:01 p.m. An opossum wanders across the street, onto my lawn, looks at us, and clearly says with his eyes that we don't belong here. We decide to start packing up the lawn chairs.

10:05 p.m. In a flurry of activity, Red Blob shuts the window and turns out the light. Sadly, this is the most entertaining Saturday night any of us have had in an awfully long time.

7:00 p.m., One Day Into The Future. Amy asks me what my column's going to be about. I tell her it's about our exciting night on the porch. She tells me definitely NOT to make us look like creepy pervs who like to leer in our distant neighbor's window. I tell her not to worry. I just like my porch.

No comments: