The Man

I think every street/neighborhood has one. That creepy neighbor, usually a man that everyone is a little more wary of then necessary.
Nowadays, the connotation of being "that guy" is even worse because it seems that pedophilia is much more prevalent. But is it? Or are we just hearing about it more because of our hyper connectedness?
I digress, that isn't the point. The point is my memories of The Man.

I lived in what I would describe as the country, but the city limits butted up against my parents back fence. If you were to walk out our front door and go to the left by exactly one mile there was a farmers market called Steinbauers. You had to cross rail road tracks to get to the store. Incidentally, my first job was with Steinbauers. I can still work up a good drool thinking about Jimmy's baked goods. (chocolate sour cream cookies and rhubarb pie...OH.MY.GOSH!)
If you back up towards my house, just before the railroad tracks there was a house that (when I was growing up) was the last house on the left side of the road before the tracks.
I still don't know the name of the man, only that we weren't to stop by his house. I don't know what it is he did that freaked out parents and children alike out, but when we walked or biked by the house I'm pretty sure we changed sides of the road so we weren't even on his side.
Every once in awhile, while riding in the back of the car and trying to memorize everything around me, I would catch him outside. I only remember him in stolen glimpses and dangerous stares. He had a huge porch on the side of his house facing a small wooded area (that would one day blissfully block the view of new duplexes that began crowding out country road). He would be sweeping the porch, or fiddling with something. As if he could sense my stares he always seemed to look up and at our car. Although I could be wrong, I could feel his stare boring into mine as I furtively drank in this scary scary man that was so dangerous.

I would probably chalk most of this memory up to a child's crazy imagination....but then there's this.
My parents are very friendly people, they would chat with everyone on our street...even the neighbor across the street that was always so mean and wouldn't let us ride our bikes on her pile of dirt (I'll write about her later). They probably knew the name of everyone on our road. But I never ever remember them speaking to this man. Ever.

There is also the more concerning question of why I saw so many sinister things in so many places growing up. But that's a subject best broached another day.

****Also, starting 6/28 I'm going to start a mini-series of blog posts. I'm going to write about the 30 people (or groups of people) that have shaped me into who I am at 30. Stayed tuned!****


jake - aka the comment novelist said...

If I'm not mistaken, I know exactly which house you're talking about. And I know the guy, too.

He was an usher at the church I went to growing up, his wife was a Sunday school teacher.

Nice enough guy, with only a few creepy points. His brother, also an usher, stacked up the creepy points like a 10 year old playing Tetris.

I'm super-stoked about this special month long feature!!!

My word verification is "state".

Unfair to get a real word that's also very boring.

Pete said...

The creepy guy on our street was at the end of the street in a little beat up house. We always stayed as far away from his house as possible, no one talked to him and he made no attempt to talk to anyone, we never knew why.

Now 20 some odd years later I've made his acquaintance and now know him as Jonny, one of my nicest customers. He was a bit socially inept and didn't even try being social until after his wife died about 8 years ago.

Sometimes these men get a bad rap because they are older and have no children. I think back to those days and think how crazy the whole thing was and I think that's why sometimes I imagine myself being Jonny later in life.

In this day in age parents can't be too careful, but I hope that in situations like mine that the parents would be responsible enough to at least attempt conversations with these neighbors and create a safe community for their children.

But then again there IS the crazy cat lady....LOL.