Friday, January 21, 2011

The Stranger

It is an odd morning here in Lloyd. When I went out to feed the cat and open the door to the run for the chickens, I heard a man's voice from somewhere nearby but didn't worry about it overly much. My neighbors keep a radio on all the time for their animals and it plays country music and I guess I just thought that the voices came from that.

When I went to get the paper I saw that someone had set up camp at the unused church next door under the roof of the dinner-on-the-grounds place in the church's side yard. There was a bike and some stuff, maybe even a tent. I did not want to be rude and walk over to the fence and stare, but just got my paper and then the next thing I knew, a yellow streak of dog was racing towards me and a man was yelling that she's friendly, friendly, really, really friendly.

I wasn't worried. My instincts didn't rise up and warn me against her and you know those instincts are usually true. But here she came, maybe a bulldog/lab mix and if there are any two friendlier breeds, I don't know what they are so here she came, this friendly dog and she jumped up on me and the man was heading this way and there I was in my brand "new" corduroy wild print pajama bottoms from the Goodwill and my cashmere, no bra, of course, and we here in Lloyd hold to the idea that if you are in your yard or on your porch you are "invisible" if you're not properly dressed and so this was a rude breaking-through of that glass wall, this man, this dog.

The dog raced off to the cat food, then up to my kitchen porch and the man asked politely, while yelling at the dog, if he could enter my yard to get her, and I said, "Of course," and my instincts there were not as kindly about him as they had been about his animal.

My dogs were going insane and he was bellowing, "Amy! Get over here right now!" in this very, very deep voice and although his manner and voice to me had been as polite as humanly possible, his voice when he was calling his dog was too deep and there were notes in it that did not ring right in my viscera.
He looked like someone who might have walked here from the interstate- you know- funky teeth, unshaven. But there was the bike. Does Amy follow him on foot as he bikes? I can't imagine and for all I know, he's some eccentric dot com billionaire following an urge to see the deep south. Who knows? Not me.

He got the dog back and was apologetic and I said, "Is she going to be loose later? I have chickens that run."

He assured me that she's very good with chickens and all sorts of poultry and I imagine she is- she looks like she could snap Elvis in two with one playful bite but I don't think that's what he meant. As he took leave of the yard he namasted me several times, the yoga hands under the chin and everything, but that voice he had used when he called the dog was still ringing in my ears. So loud, so deep. I am used to men whose voices are never raised, hardly ever and I just realized that.

I actually thought about calling the police but that just seems so rude. He is trespassing on the church property but I don't care much about that sort of thing. And surely someone with vile intent would hardly set up camp right where anyone passing by could see him.

I don't know.
He may even be gone as I write this. I'll check before I let the chickens out. I am not risking my hens and fine rooster on his word. I saw that dog. She may be sweet but she's not exactly trained.

Isn't it funny how we react to "the other"? That which we do not recognize as "us"?
Our first instincts are so often fear and suspicion, just as our ape cousins are if a stranger approaches the tribe.

Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh use this fact to their great advantage and I certainly do not want to be anything like them and so I am not calling the police, I am just keeping an eye out, I am just making sure the dog is not loose when I open the door to the hen house.

Mostly I am just fascinated at how quickly the ape-woman in me kicked in during this very, very short encounter. Far more quickly than I could actually "think" I had registered so many things. The fact that the dog appeared well fed, certainly wasn't cowed or acted as if she had been raised with fear, had a kerchief around her neck, that there was a bicycle, that the man was dressed appropriately if not well- all of these observations made before I could barely register the fact of what was happening in the midst of the chaos of my dogs barking and his dog racing around my yard. Our brains are so much better at accessing situations than we know and that despite years of domestication, they probably always will be, adding up the facts and the clues, both visible and unseen and coming up with a judgment before we know we're even in that process. In this case it was, "Probably okay, but be wary."

Good morning, y'all. It's Friday.
Let's all keep our wits about us.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. well,
    I feel myself completely inside your thinking.
    I would want to call the police as well, but wouldn't .

    I'm sure he'll be long gone before the end of the day and you and your yard and chickens and braless worship of the morning will be safe.

    but still.

    and yeah, I get pretty not so pretty when my "family'' is threatened. and my husband raises his voice. and I'm always in the cave man like atmosphere of sports. But still. Their is a certain something that makes me nervous. To protect, defend.

    and Ms. Moon. I know you are that kind of person , that woman who sees like that. I think I am mostly too. Mostly, I'm working on it. She honestly just wakes up happy every day. This woman had her first born son pass away in the bed between her and her husband not long after he was born (from what was probably pneumonia), and she accepts with such grace, thankful for the miracle of her son they said she would never have, my husband, without wallowing or self pity or angst. No dark days.
    I want to do that. To be that. But it's not in my constitution or something...

  2. Trust your instincts. What you heard in the man's voice was true, Mama Bear and you have a young child in the house not to mention those beautiful chickens.

  3. I read this after I called. Are you okay?

  4. deb- Who is this woman? Oh my. So very sad and how is that some people are so gracious? I do not understand so very much.

    Radish King- No babies in the house today and the man, he is gone. I just checked.

    DTG- Yep. Fine. HomelessGuy/DotComBillionaire has folded up his tent and gone away.

    Ms. Bastard-Beloved- He has. Love you.

  5. Glad he's gone... until the part about him raising his voice at his dog I probably wouldn't have said that.
    Maybe he reads your blog and just wanted to get a close up of your awesomeness? hehe

  6. I am by nature a suspicious person, add to that my coming up in NYC and then add to that my living with a warrior....
    I don't always like that feeling but
    I always pay attention to it.
    Good on you.

  7. Tiffany- You know, "crazy stalker" did enter my mind but then I realized it was me that was crazy, having that thought. Who would stalk me?

    Handandspirit- We are both married to warriors of different sorts, I think. Neither one of them are afraid of guns, I know that. I was thinking that if Mr. Moon had been here, he definitely would have had a "chat" with the dude about what he was doing in the church yard, when he would be leaving, etc.
    I have a feeling your man would have done the same.

  8. Hmm. I am totally a shouter-at-my-badly-trained-dogs. I got it from my mother, I think.

    Well, and my father too, but that's a different story.

    It makes me a not so contained dog owner, but not a dangerous person.

  9. Trust in human kind has been failing, sadly for awhile. In the depression when men may have been in search of work, alone, they might have come to your back door looking for an odd job or a home cooked meal they have long missed. You might have done all that and even invited them to sleep on a pallet in your home. Times have changed, mistrust, our instincts of protection rear up.

    Had Mr. Moon left the house already? I do love my husband/protector of the home to be within a call away. And yes, I lock my doors even when I am home...I find it sad to do but even in my very nice neighborhood we have had robberies....

  10. That would creep me out a bit, too, I think -- I wish your film-maker friend had been there because it almost sounds like a scene from one of his movies!

    I'm glad the man is gone, now, though and that you're safe and bra-less.

  11. I think you made all the reasonable, cautious moves with the stranger. Glad he has moved on and not set up camp for days in the yard next door, though, what with the complications his dog would bring with all your own animals. Hope this day brings other, more pleasant surprises. x0 N2

  12. Jo- I guarantee he did not yell at his dog the way you or I yell at ours. Or that you USED to.

    Ellen- No. Mr. Moon was gone. But I have lots of neighbors. It was okay. I think I may have TOO much faith in mankind but here's the deal- do or don't- if some evil person wants to get to you, it's probably going to happen whether your doors are locked or not. That's my philosophy and I'm probably naive.

    Elizabeth- Braless indeed! And yes, I am safe. Thank-you, sweet woman.
    And I would not have minded Freddy being here. He WAS a Marine, you know.

    N2- If he had stayed any longer, someone would have called the police, I feel sure. He was right out in the open.

  13. That would be bothersome to have a dog on the loose with the chickens. He is probably a traveling nomad. But it is wise to listen to the nape of the neck and those little hairs that stand up.

  14. trust your viscera. you are not anything like beck or limbaugh and better safe than politically correct and sorry. he's gone but keep your wits about, for a while anyway.

  15. It would disturb anyone I suppose to be joined by a rough looking man and a wildish dog, especially if you're living where you're normally not bothered by anyone. I'm glad you can feel unruffled again.

    I'm often puzzled/upset about my reaction to the "other." It's unsettling. I know what you mean.

  16. I wish we knew his name. I probably would've spent the next hour or so creeping around with my binoculars and spying secret agent style. But I'm a weirdo.


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