I was up all night with a terrible migraine and woke up this morning feel like I had been hit by a truck. All I wanted was to sleep off the lingering pain in peace, but instead, I pulled myself out of bed. I threw on jeans and a tee shirt, left my hair in the ponytail I slept in, swiped on some mascara and big sunglasses, and went to work. I looked like a WINNER.
But when I walked into my classroom, there sat a substitute. From Heaven. Obviously.
Turns out, I had schedule a sub to come in today waaaaaaaaaay back at the beginning of the school year when I thought I would be at a training today. The training was canceled, but I had forgotten I even booked a sub. BUT THERE SHE SAT! So, I quickly gave her my lesson plan for the day and then came back home and went straight to bed.
I love being home in the middle of the day. My neighborhood is a completely different place than when I’m normally home in the evenings. I see neighbors I never knew I had, service technicians fixing so-and-so’s air conditioning (it went out again at their house again?!?!?), and even get to see the school-aged kids waiting for their buses. Such excitement in suburbia!
My favorite part of being home during the day, though, are the old people. We live in one of the older, well-established areas of Orlando. It’s the kind of community that’s full of old people who have lived there their whole adult lives and young families who are moving in… well… as the old people die. Ahhh… the circle of life.
But before they move on to that great suburbia in the sky, there are a few things old people do in my neighborhood that I am quite jealous of:
1. They never have more than one bag of trash on trash day. HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?! We will have, like, 10,000 bags of trash out there and 2,000 tons of recycling on trash day, and our neighbor next door will stroll out in his bathrobe, set his one small, white trash bag out, and then wave at us and say, “Mornin’!” before turning back to his house. Chris and I stand there, up to our eyeballs in broken down pizza boxes and piles of Kleenex, staring after him like he’s got three heads. WHERE DOES THEIR TRASH GO?!?!?!
2. They look clean while they work in their yards. This I don’t even pretend to NOT stare at. I will slow my car down and gape out my window at them for this one. Don’t they SWEAT?! Why do they look so clean?! Some of them even have little outfits they wear to work in the yard, with little matching hats and gardening gloves. My favorite are the ones who sit on little stools and have their little trash bucket sitting next to them. When I work in the yard (which is, like, twice a year, both usually after Chris and I have had a fight about how I don’t help outside enough, so I stand there for a few minutes holding a shovel, take a picture for Instagram, and then walk back inside), I sweat before I even get outside. And then the bugs start to buzz around me because I’m sweaty. So, I stand in the yard, sweating, and swatting invisible bugs like an insane person. Oh, and holding my shovel. But not my old people neighbors. They look like they are in a Southern Living magazine gardening column. WHERE ARE YOUR GNATS, OLD PEOPLE?!?!?! WHERE ARE YOUR GNATS?!?!?
3. Their garages are perfectly clean, organized, and sometimes even decorated. You know what’s in our garage? Neither do I because there’s so much crap out there, we can’t find anything! We don’t let the kids or the dog out there because I’m afraid they will get lost or trapped under something heavy and we’d never see them again. Meanwhile, at the old man’s house down the street, his garage is cleaner than the inside of my house. He’s got everything he needs labeled in color-coded storage bins, which are all sitting neatly in one of those storage bin organizers. We have storage bins, too. They are stacked in a spider-webby corner of our garage and half of them are sitting open where I’ve gone in there and just pulled the corner of the lid back to get out what I needed, instead of actually taking the whole bin down, getting what I need, and then securely closing the lid again. Last week, I even saw a neighbor PAINTING their garage floor. I can’t even SEE my garage floor. You win, Old Neighbor.
4. They get to eat dinner at 4:30pm. If I didn’t have children or a husband, I would eat dinner at 4:30 every afternoon. And it would be cereal. And sometimes, when I was feeling fancy, I’d even add milk. I’ve always envied old people for this. 4:30 is the perfect time for dinner. It’s right after my 3:00 snack starts to wear off and right before I start to get tired at 6:30. It’s the perfect time for a meal. And – BONUS! – if you go out to eat at the 4:30 old people dinner time, it’s way cheaper. Old people are just living my dream.
5. They don’t have to smile and wave. Everyone loves a grumpy old man. We have several on my street, and every time I smile and wave at them, as I am obligated to do as a neighbor, they just look right at me and don’t do a thing. No smile. No wave. No tip of the hat. Nothing. And why? BECAUSE THEY CAN. And we’ll still love them anyway. BECAUSE THEY ARE OLD. “Oh, there’s grumpy Mr. Peterson,” we’ll laugh as we smile and wave and Mr. Peterson gives us this death stare. “Look at those cute little black knee socks he’s wearing! He’s just the sweetest!” Oh, sure. We have the sweet old people on our street, too. The ones who coo at the kids and yell out, “Enjoy this time with them!” as Gracie accidentally whacks me right in the knee with a baseball bat and Bean yells, “HOME RUN!” Friendly old people are wonderful. But so are the grumpy ones. And that makes me jealous. If I thought society would allow it, I’d yell curse words at people who drive too fast through the neighborhood and never turn my porch light on at Halloween, too. But only old people can pull that off and still have people say, “That Mr. Peterson. He’s a good man.”
Staying home today has made me feel renewed. I’m ready to go back to work tomorrow and fight the good fight. So that, one day, I can retire and be a grumpy old neighbor. I better start picking out my garage floor paint now…