Every morning after I toss back the dregs of the morning coffee, I head out for a walk around my subdivision in Surburbia, USA. I have really grown to love that mile-plus loop. It is a great, predictable way to start the day. Apparently, I thrive on routine- something that took me circa 40 years to figure out. I get superstitious about shuffling my routine cards. Wake, get kids to school, walk, shower. The shower process is ritualistic too. Face, shampoo, rinse, towel-twisted up into identical turbanesque wrap each day. For someone who is prone to paralysis by analysis, this morning meander around the neighborhood keeps me linear and moving forward. There is a single rose bush in Boo Radley’s yard that I stop to smell. Checking off stop-and-smell the roses before 9am feels good. I try to walk this loop three times before I come home to begin my work with one hand on my computer and the other hand in the Triscuit box.
This is a neighborhood where the ice cream man is only occasionally stinkeyed as a potential pedophile when he cruises through too slowly and too many minutes after sunset. It seems to be a pretty safe place. We are near a college campus so the worst thing that seems to befall the hood is an occasional beer can in the yard which I happily pick up out of requisite karma. I think a beer can may have been sucked out of my Jeep floorboard once or twice in the 90’s.
Kids ride their bikes solo. Adults check the mailbox in flannel pants. We all glare at speeders. We throw dead cicadas by the fist full at speeders. We don’t call the homeowner’s association to rat out kids who are trying to master the skateboard rail on the white picket fence that surrounds the property. The point is that we are relatively free range around here. It is a place where a kid be a kid. And an adult can be nosy…
…by psychoanalyzing your garage on her morning walks.
On average, I spy approximately eight to ten gaping open garages on any given day during my walk. And as much as I try NOT to glance at the setup, it is like the moment when someone says “don’t look now but the lady behind you just stuffed a Twix in her bra“…you look. Without much pause.
Some of these open-to-the-passerby garages are so meticulously kept that when I arrive home, the first thing I do is stick my own semi-cluttered garage at the very top of the honey-we-gonna-do-this-soon list.
I admit that I put way too much thought into garage analysis. But a garage is the place where the superfluous is relegated. It is the place for hanging tools. For folding ladders. Dusty golf clubs. Shiny golf clubs that have been the origin of spousal discord because they are so shiny- tarnished only by fresh grass-stains with use. Garages are the place for stuff that seems important enough to keep but not important enough to keep inside the house. The place where the shoes get wiped off before you finally settle in for the night.
The garage is an an entity that SCREAMS hello-this-home-belongs-to FILL IN THE BLANK. So yeah I look. I’m curious that way.
Here is what I have noticed. Worth mentioning: I don’t actually trespass so put the phone down- the police have bigger fish to fry. I am not stalking. I am merely observing. You can actually tell alot about a person from their garage at a glance. Or maybe I should rephrase…you can certainly make UP a lot about a person as trained garage stalkerazzi.
The extra carseats laying in pieces like Lincoln Logs mean that one or more of you is not entirely sure that the procreating is done.
The yard inflatables (plural) on the shelf. This means that you actually buy these things. Something is wrong with you…I am not sure what exactly. Please take the money that you spend on yard inflatables annually and donate it to a charity that gives a real Christmas tree to a family in need.
Sports equipment, by season, in bins. Every sport imaginable. Lacrosse, croquet, basketball, badmitten, soccer, curling for crying out loud. This tells me that you like to be outside. It also tells me that you spread your time way too thin and that you likely bicker with your spouse over who is going to take the kids to the 200th practice of the year when they would really prefer to play the flute.
Paint cans. Rusty ones. Stacked cattywampus like a rickety pyramid. Paint cans that are clearly from another century because the label looks yellowed and vintage. You might be a hoarder. Or you might still be mourning the death of your beloved grandmother whose childhood sewing room was painted in that color.
My favorite. Full disclosure: This one is my own. Hanging half shredded tacked to the plaster walls front and center is a silouette of a human torso that my husband brought home as a souvenir from gun-toting practice. His first and only shooting range experience. This means that your wife feels that the bullet-riddled poster on display will deter potential thiefs in the event that she she accidentally leaves the garage door open. It means also that you don’t believe in alarm systems.
A ride-on mower for your tiny yard. I don’t know what that means. That you are impractical, perhaps.
The most distressing to me though is The Brass Wall of Fame. And for some reason, this garage is always open. In a display of crazy, perfect precision hangs a grid of trophy plaques. Maybe 30 of them. The old wooden kind with the brass cleat or the chippped football mounted above the engraved name of the celebrated athlete. They are a variety of shapes and sizes. Someone relegated those to the garage and I dont think that it was the Trophy Guy. If they weren’t important to the Trophy Guy, they would be in a box. In the attic. That is where my husband’s are and he was a hella hockey player in his spring chicken years. Of course, I have it in my mind that some mean, controlling wife banished trophies from the home with one big exasperated Get A Life and roll of the eye. Why I am on the hubs side here, I have no idea. Just that if something is important to someone you love, then maybe we should honor that even if it clashes with our prized Eames chair and mod ensemble inside the house.
I once knew a guy whose couch in college was nicknamed Baba Ganoush. It’s not like this guy was asking to bring in Baba Ganoush inside for the marital home’s centerpiece.
Maybe my theory is way off. Probably. But either way, I want to thank the phantom mean wife over there. She made me reconsider how to handle the day that Matt asks where he can put the Christmas Story leg lamp. Or the neon beer sign. Or the buck mount the size of a big-screen from the hunting trip. GULP. Of course not in the garage. In the scrapbooking room would be just fabulous. Or the basement basking a new glow on the pool table. Just like the glory days of old.
And of course, there is one more ritual to speak of on this morning walk. When you see this grown, garage-stalking woman strolling with her ipod everyday, you will notice that every single time she passes the The Brass Hall Of Fame…she gives Trophy Guy a fist pump to the sky. No lie. Every. Single. Time.