Sunday, September 18, 2005

Block Party

This afternoon: the second annual Kempshall and Chetwood Terraces block party. I guess we have a lot of bored, stay-at-home moms on our two streets, because the planning for this block party somehow morphed it into a Carnivale-size event, complete with deejay and a pool (no water in the pool though...) and enough crappy homemade food to feed, well... a neighborhood. I was hesitant about going though, because I'm a bad neighbor. Not like bludgeoning the gossipy lady across the street to death with the blender she "borrowed" from my late wife who she was blackmailing bad — more like I've lived on this street twenty-three years now and I know approximately zero of my neighbors bad.

That's not totally accurate. I know the lady who walks her cocker spaniel. But I did say I knew approximately zero. And I don't technically know the lady so much as I know her cocker spaniel.

I had pretty low expectations. It's not that I enjoy my reclusive life so much as I just don't think I connect to anybody out here in suburbia. Everyone's either a new parent — we've got thirty-three kids under ten living on our two streets — or they're a retired couple. Kids straight out of college generally live somewhere affected by urban sprawl, where the singles' scene is hotter. The best I can hope for is an attractive milfy housewife whose workaholic husband ignores her during the day, and judging from the block party, I'd say that's a long shot. No one with even that Felicity Huffman plain-but-worth-settling-for look. We have a lot of mom-butt on our street.

Mom introduced me to a few people who I guess could best be described as (a) the biker couple, (b) the black family, and (c) some guy named Doug. We all had those Hello, My name is... tags so that made the introductions, well, still pretty awkward but at least I didn't forget my neighbors' names five seconds after the introduction. Here's how reclusive my family is: There's this couple Stanley and Edna. Stan and Edna have lived on Kempshall Terrace for twenty-four years. I've lived here twenty-three. Mom and Dad lived here for twenty-eight. That's nearly eight decades combined, okay? Yet somehow today is the first time any of us has met Stanley and Edna. It's the same freaking block! They live less than a hundred yards away! Meanwhile, Anne moved to China last month and she doesn't even speak the language but within a day she's made friends.

I find that depressing. (Not that she made friends quickly, that I don't.) So I took a break from the block party, mixed a stiff, stiff drink and went back kind of tipsy. That helped.

Anyway, tomorrow I'm taking this public speaking/self-confidence course at the New School, unless of course I chicken out beforehand. The hope is that after six weeks of feel-good classes, I'll return to Fanwood invigorated for the next block party.