Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Neighbors

I have a problem: I don't know whether to tell Crabtot that Captain Hook lives next door to us or to wait for her to figure it out for herself. I'm scared she will get a fright if I don't warn her. Of the man down the street's hand. Which is actually a hook. And this is relevant right now. Since we have just bought Peter Pan on DVD. And I don't know why I am writing in fragments. Somehow the problem. Necessitates choppy sentences.

Those of you who came to this blog in its infancy will recall my fascination with my then-neighbors, Crabtown's finest, slummiest, and in fact most charming cowboy campers, who did seasonal work at the Crabtown rodeo and spent an awful lot of time asleep in temporary homes comprised of rusted husks of metal propped up on bricks.

I miss them.

And I miss spying on them.

But I have some interesting new folk around me. Like Captain Hook: he has a wild head of woolly hair, two somewhat fractious Bassett hounds and, to repeat, a hook for a hand. I noticed the hook last week when walking Crabtot to preschool. She's at the age where she asks me out loud in front of some poor blighted human why that person is fat or has pimples or uses a wheelchair, so I expected her instantly to spot the hook as neighbor wrangled his Bassett hounds. But she did not. And then I expected again that she might remark upon the hook when we saw this man again raking leaves with his hook. (He didn't rake leaves with the actual hook. He had a rake. He just, you know, has this hook.) She did not remark on the hook. But it is only a matter of time.

Not being accustomed to thinking about hooks for hands, I am a little puzzled by the hook. I don't know; I thought maybe by now the modern era could produce something better than a hook. I imagine a hook must be useful otherwise someone wouldn't sport it in lieu of a hand. That said, a prosthetic robot hand would surely be better? But maybe you need like super-schmantzy health insurance to get your, um, hand on one of those...?

Anyhoo, the dilemma here has nought to do with the actual hook, but with how to approach the hook with Crabtot. This past week, she has become obsessed with Peter Pan and is a tad freaked by Captain Hook and all. I have been pushing the PP DVD because Strawberry Shortcake gets on my last nerve, but now am wondering whether to push the Friendship Cake scene back into the mix so we don't develop the nascent interest in Captain Hook.

To clarify, my real fear here is not that Crabtot will become scared by the real-life Captain Hook down the road. No, I fear that she will embarrass me by asking me in front of him why the dude has a hook for a hand. Should I discuss in advance, I wonder?

Our neighborhood! Chock full of fascination! There is another chap down the block who drives a giant stretch limo and has a giant built-up shoe. He tools around, chain-smoking, outside his house, which is incredibly dilapidated (there is an old cardboard box that ever since I moved here has been propped beneath an attic window to hold it up and, I suppose, let air in [or smells out?]). Said limo driver is very sweet and very proud of his limo company. He gave Crabtot his business card the other day on our way to preschool, and told her that he gives "discounts for good grades"! Then he turned to me and said, "It's never too early to start getting them motivated!"

Did you hear that Crabtot? Study hard and in 13 years you might get 10% off our neighbor's limo service as he drives you to your prom!

Okay, so maybe Crabtot isn't yet properly motivated by the limo discount to study hard for her entire school career, but she is rightly impressed by the limo. "When I'm a grownup I'm going to drive that big car," she told me yesterday. "I'm going to make a bed in it for my babies....My ten babies," she clarified when I asked her how many she would be having. (It's always between five and sixteen).

The limo guy is truly very sweet and we stop and chat often. He's always trying to make Crabtot pick dandelion flowers and weeds from the strip of "garden" in front of his house; he's quite crafty that way. On July 4 he drove the limo round and round the 'hood, gingerly approaching our street where we had fireworks going...but he glided by after a round of rockets, and waved like the queen and we all waved back and I half expected a rain of limo business cards to fall upon us all like confetti.

We also have a sexually ambiguous couple (Crabhub thinks one is transgendered). One of the (wo)men repairs unbelievably ancient bicycles and has about seven hundred of them in her yard. Their house is quite magnificent (if you ignore the very gay giant faux-Tuscan planters in front of it) and they are quite unfriendly but they have two beautiful little daughters who are quite polite.

Love my 'hood. Seriously, people, unless you're on the wrong side of the tracks you're doomed to a dull life (says she who, like, checks real estate listing in tony zones about, oh, every day)!

What should I do? Discuss hook in advance and coach Crabtot on how not to react when she actually sees it thereby sparing Captain Hook's feelings and, more important, saving me from embarrassment? Or let the metal prong announce itself organically (okay, that word doesn't quite work) in its own time...and let the subsequent reaction be whatever it will be?

A tough question for a tough times.


Mary Anna said...

Yikes! I don't even know how to approach that one! My standard answer is "I guess God just made him that way." This is usually sufficient, seeing how Thing 1 is 3 1/2 and asks insensitive questions too. Like in the ladies' room at lunch the other day when a grandmotherly lady wanted to use the mirror. He questions loudy "Why does she want to look in the mirror? I don't think she has any boogers."

Boy, I'm proud!

Emily L. said...

Crabmommy suffers from heat stroke to think that crabtot would be unique to comment on MR. Hook.

Anyway, she is now a crabKID, and should fend for herself! Your job is done!

Well, a Good Mother would teach her how to duck and run for cover when she offends someone...

Crabmommy said...

mary anna--I'm an atheist so your answer won't work for moi. Like the booger bit, though! Cute!
emily, quite right: I know. I should just let her put her foot in it. She's almost 4 after all. Time to let her have her own big mouth.
I only hope she won't call him Captain Hook.

Busymama Karen said...

Hi Christine,

Hope you don't mind, but we have tagged you for a Top 5 blogs of the Month game.

You just need to name 5 posts you've enjoyed with a link to them, then tag 5 more people to do the same.
If you could give us a link too, and then let the 5 people you've tagged know that they are 'it' and also to link back to you.

Karen & Kellie
Busy Mamas

Alexis said...

Who is Christine?

I agree with emily. And anyway, I imagine Mr. Hook is used to fielding questions from the five and under set.

Stefanie said...

Oh Crabbymommy, what a wonderful patchwork of characters you've described in your neighborhood!

I must admit, I didn't think anything could top the cowboy menagerie back in Crabtown, and I was a bit sad knowing there'd be no more page-turning reports of events gathered from your Jane Goodall-esque observations.

Crabcity has not disappointed!

Now all you need is a children's illustrator for some lively sketches, and you've got an instant oddball children’s classic! You'll make millions! Or at least enough to help support Crabtot's ten babies.

Daisy said...

Sitting in the teacher's lounge one day, we were joking about "slumming". The principal came in and, not realizing we were joking, pronounced the school's neighborhood where she had been principal before ours "changing, for the worse. Just awful." Oops - I live there, two blocks from her old school. And you know what? I love it here. It's much more interesting than McMansion 'hoods.

cathy said...

As mortified as I would be if my Ben would ask someone about their hand hook, I say just let it happen organically. Crabtot is young and innocent enough that she can ask why he has a hook for a hand without seeming cheeky or rude. I think that it might be weirder if she didn't ask about the hook, ya know? Plus, she might not even think a thing about it.

Mozi Esme said...

I would say let the issue come up by itself. Better that than some comment like, Oh look mommy, this is the man you told me about with a hook for a hand!

Emily L. said...

Hey I am an artist!

But my stuff has been rejected from the nurseries of my own close friends.

Shelly G said...

I would say you could get a book on people with different challenges. However, I would also say I have a son (17 years old) who has a trach and a tumor in his face... and he never minds when kids look at him or ask him what happened... He is used to it... He has had it since birth... We live in apartments... and the neighbors sound like yours... I love people who aren't cookie cuttered...It makes life more interesting:)

Anonymous said...

Just let her ask. Your reaction is more important than hers. If you act like it's a horror, he'll feel offended and she'll learn that differences are bad/unmentionalble. Just be cool, like if she asked a friend why she is blonde now instead of brunette (bleach, duh). Why do you have a hook (I lost my hand, duh).

Disabilities are a natural part of life. If the Capt. acts offended, just keep him away from your child, b/c he propbably hates kids, and doesn't understand them at all.

kim said...

I have actually been through this very situation.

My son wants to be a pirate when he grows up, and whenever we saw a man with a hook ( there are a surprising amount of them out there let me tell you) in the mall, on the street, at the swimming pool(I would have thought that the rust issue would have eliminated the swimming pool, but no) he said ( really loudly!) " look mommy look at da pirate! Where dat crocodile?!"

By and large the hooked men laughed and then played up the pirate thing, cause kids are cute, and they don't mean any harm.

Unknown said...

Does anyone live in a subdivision where there are several people who ignore the subdivision rules?
I do. No one is supposed to have those ugly fences on the top of their pools, and it seems that everyone in the sub with a pool has one of those. My neighbor has one, and I have to look at that hideous thing every time I look out my window. Then there is my other neighbor who has three dogs.
The maximum number of dogs is supposed to be two. I wouldn't mind the three, but two of them are pit bulls who viciously snarl and growl and act like they are going
to eat my dog when they are outside. Even the owners scream at them to stop. It is very unnerving. Then one of the board members is delinquent by 3 years on the dues because she has decided she doesn't need to pay since she is on the board. I can't take the neighbors around here. I was looking for a forum to vent about the jerks around here and I came across this site called and I sent all of those idiots on the board and all my lovely neighbors with the ugly pools an anonymous card. LOL I loved it. I know it sounds stupid but I feel better. He he he