While I’ll admit I’m struggling a bit to find the time this month to keep up on my blogging of recent events, I thought it would be fun to revisit this short (all true) story I told just about a year ago, especially for those of you who’ve only recently started following my blog.
The evenings of late have been cool and inviting, perfect New England sleeping weather, the windows all open, the gentle but occasional breeze, the covers pulled up high. Great opportunity for a relaxing and full night of sleep before another big celebration to photograph on Saturday night. All was quiet on the home front.
And then at about two am, maybe it was closer to two-thirty, the dogs suddenly start barking, not something they typically do in the middle of the night in quiet little Weston, and then through the open bedroom window there’s the sound of a car pulling up the gravel driveway. A sound so very familiar from the years of hearing the kids pull up, often as we lay awake waiting eagerly and sometimes anxiously for them to return from their night out with friends. But now both kids are away, Hannah living and working in NY, Molly back at school in PA, so suddenly the realization, even half-asleep as we remained, that something out of the ordinary was happening.
At that point I lookout the window to see a taxi turning around and pulling back out of the driveway and in the silence that follows I hear some very quiet but distinct foot steps walking down the path to the back door. Again, could it be for some strange reason one of the kids is home? Well, brave man that I am (not) I do what the man of the house simply must do and perhaps foolishly and without baseball bat (ok, it’s a house mostly of girls, there are no baseball bats) I walk down stairs, turn on the outside lights, sheepishly look out the back door, and there’s this decently dressed middle-aged man in blazer and baseball cap leaning against the outside of our house. What the heck? So with a bit of adrenaline pumping and the necessary bravado to face up to the situation at hand, I rapidly open the back door, slowly peak through the screen door (like this mesh of torn screen is going to save me from his concealed weapon of death), and sternly blurt out “can I help you?”. OK, truth be told, I’m not even sure what I said, maybe it was more like “what are you doing at my house?”. And then as I eagerly wait for his delayed response to my seemingly simple question it becomes very clear that I’m not only speaking with someone who’s been just drinking all night, but someone’s who’s very, very drunk and totally incoherent and able to stand in a vertical position only because there’s a very solid 200 year old farm house right over his left shoulder that he happens to be leaning against. So again, mustering the courage and the tremendous insight into the situation at hand, this time I spit out, “Ok, I’m going to call the cops”. No response. “OK”, I try again, a little louder and more forcefully, “I’m going to call the cops, what are you doing at my house?”
This time a brief response, barely coherent, “They told me to come here”, or something like that, details a bit fuzzy at this point. He’s drunk, I’m asleep. OK, let’s keep this story going and bring it to its tidy conclusion (right, Liz?). So I call 911 and the Weston policeman answering the phone says “911, where’s the emergency?” at which I feel a combination of silly, for I’m no longer feeling that this is quite an emergency, and smart citizen doing what anyone in suburbia does when there’s an intruder at his back door at what’s now almost three in the morning.
Well, long story, just a bit shorter, two cruisers pull up about five very long minutes later, the man is no longer holding up the farm house, but sprawled out in the back yard by the woods, simply drunk out of his mind. The cops pull him back up to a standing position and gently but sternly bring him to one of their cars, place his hands on the hood, search his pockets for that potentially deadly weapon I imagined, ask him his name (John Doe Photo for the purposes of this entry) and try to find some sort of identification on him, initially unsuccessfully but eventually coming up with a driver’s license. Oh yeah, in the course of all of this a story starts to unfold about he had spent twenty hours taking his son back to college by train earlier that same day, blah, blah, blah… And then finally the answer comes to the cops’ repeated question of “where do you live?” Whether the effects of the drunken stupor are beginning to dissipate or perhaps it’s just a sudden moment of enlightenment, the man blurts out “I live at 88 (name of street withheld to protect the innocent, including me who lives at 68 on that very same street)”. So there it is, the guy’s my neighbor that I’ve never met, down the long driveway that I’ve never been, probably three houses away.
And that taxi cab driver that dropped him off: dark night, no street lights, barely visible addresses on the mail boxes, and most likely very anxious to get this drunk out of his taxi as quickly as he possibly can. Moral of this story, let your kid find their own way back to college.
It’s much safer that way. And oh yeah, don’t own a gun, most suburban hand gun deaths are caused by neighbors mistakenly shooting neighbors. I’m well aware that this doesn’t happen everywhere but you’d be surprised to know that it happens more than you think. I could understand it if you thought you heard noises in your house or backyard and you were acting in self-defense, but it’s a whole different story when you intentionally shoot someone. Some people who are gun owners are very responsible. I have a friend who has recently looked at the gun laws for his area, California (https://gunlawsuits.org/gun-laws/california/concealed-carry/
) and has completed the relevant training and has all the permits he needs to be a responsible gun owner. I don’t think he will be shooting his neighbors by mistake… well I hope he doesn’t anyway. I’m not going to lie, I’m not into guns or firearms, even for self-defense purposes. I certainly don’t own one (but please don’t tell the real bad guys this).