WHERE’S MR. ROGERS WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
When TGeek and I moved into this neighborhood, the rental
house across the street was occupied by beer-bellied, greasy-haired men with a
large number of VW Beetles in the driveway, none of which appeared to run. We called them the Slug Bug People.
We had no idea how good we had it.
Although we live on a quiet street with assorted elderly residents,
ever since the Slug Bug People left, that house has been a magnet for Undesirable
First there was Jason, a little boy of about eight with an
invisible mother. This lonely child
would often ring my doorbell and ask if my husband could come out and play
(this was before we had kids). TGeek
sometimes went out and drove remote control cars around the cul de sac with
After Jason, a little girl named Brittany with another mostly absent mother
moved in. Another family on our street
had a girl the same age, and Brittany
spent every afternoon at their house, not because her mother had arranged that
but because they felt sorry for the girl. She had no one at home with her until god
Note: I am not unsympathetic to the difficulties of single
motherhood, but there’s a difference between stressed single mom and negligent
When Brittany and her mom moved out, they abandoned their
Next came Rowan, a lively and brash five-year-old boy. He spent his time riding his bike around and
around the cul de sac while his father slept inside. To make this guy even more special, he sublet
part of the house to a stick-thin woman with stringy hair and many
visitors. You figure it out.
Rowan and his dad departed in the middle of the night, no
doubt owing rent. Stick woman was there
longer. She acquired a boyfriend and had
drunken, bottle breaking fights late at night.
We were pleased when a young couple rented the house, though
not thrilled with the large Rottweiler they owned. They were hardly ever around. Best renters in years, we thought, until
another neighbor pointed out that even though they were never home, they kept
REALLY BRIGHT LIGHTS on in their basement ALL THE TIME. I’m sure you can figure that one out too.
I’ve already written about the gangbangers.
Several times during the years all this was going on, TGeek attempted
to convince the absentee landlady to sell the house to us, figuring we could
either manage the rental or fix the place up and sell it. No deal.
So we were surprised to learn that she’d sold the property last summer.
Now the house is a group home for developmentally disabled women.
Remember, I used to be a special ed teacher. I am in favor of group homes and other
community-based living arrangements for people who can’t live
independently. I have no objection to
people with mental retardation and other disabilities living on my street.
But one of them screams.
I don’t know why. Some people
with severe mental impairments scream a lot.
That’s the way it is.
It’s not every day.
And it usually doesn’t bother me.
But when the screaming woke me up at 6 this morning, I shut my eyes
tight and wished hard that the Slug Bug People would come back.