Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Strangers in the Driveway

Last Wednesday, my daughter and I were getting ready to catch the school bus. I glanced out the window and saw two people standing at the end of our driveway. It took me a few moments to register that this was a mom and her daughter waiting for the bus at our bus stop.

Then I remembered that last year there was a mom who sometimes drove her daughter to our house and dropped her off with my wife because she couldn't wait for the bus to arrive at her stop. "Is this that same woman?" I wondered to myself anxiously.

But no, there was no car. These people walked here. So they must be neighbors who were assigned to our stop.

Then I did a quick self-assessment. I had rolled out of bed and threw on yesterday's shorts and an old maroon sweatshirt with snot stains on the sleeve cuffs. I'm unshaven, and unshowered. I realize that as apprehensive as I am about meeting this neighbor, it's nothing compared to how she's going to react when she sees me.

There wasn't time for me to get ready for public viewing. But I did manage to rinse my mouth out with mouthwash, and I rolled up my sleeves, and I changed from yesterday's shorts to yesterday's slacks.

Also I sent my daughter out ahead before me. I tarried a bit in the garage, finding some odds and ends that needed to be tidied up. Then I finally walked down to the end of the driveway and greeted the strangers.

The mom was pleasant, well-groomed and normal-looking. She could easily win the part of Shirley Partridge in the next Partridge Family movie. The girl was a meek miniature version of the mom.

Unlike some bus stops where the parents stand around to chat even long after the bus has picked up the kids, this bus stop quickly sank into uncomfortable silence. That's the way it's been since, except that this morning, the girl's dad was her chaperon.

Here we are, my daughter and I -- the Wednesday and Gomez Addams of our well-to-do town.

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