In our development, nearly everybody takes some degree of pride in the appearance of their home. Whether manicured lawns and landscaping, various lighting schemes or unique window treatments, the natural (looking) stone faced and vinyl sided homes each strike a unique pose among the neighboring properties.

But as we all know, outside appearances don’t always reflect what goes on behind closed doors.  Unless of course, the front door is all glass, then all bets are off on what the neighbors might see, and what they might say.

In December, holiday decorations abound; from menorahs and gold stars to fully staffed mangers and endless strands of bright, colored lights; every home has their own twist on the holiday theme.

In our home, I have my own little twist.  December 1st begins the month-long molestation of our otherwise festive décor by “ the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window”.  Proudly on display from the landing above our front door, sits a 3’ tall “Leg Lamp”.  The fishnet-clad, plastic leg replica from the movie “A Christmas Story” is not necessarily everybody’s idea of a ‘seasonally appropriate’ decoration.

Although I have been told by a number of families they now consider a slow drive-by of the “major award” an integral link in their annual holiday ritual, I am certain some of the neighbors have said, quite simply, “I wish he would just move.”

You just can’t please everybody.

Last year we had a mix of old and new friends over for a holiday get together.  Returning down the stairs after placing coats on the bed in the master bedroom, I could see my friend Becky Jo doing a slow drive-by with her eyes toward the house.  I could feel myself standing taller, my shoulders pulling back as my heart swelled with pride. I thought to myself, “Another virgin on-looker bedazzled by my holiday decorating charm!” I felt like a proud Papa that just became a father for the first time.

When Becky Jo walked up to the glass-paneled front door with an ear-to- ear smile, I was sure I had a winner.

“Hey, there!” I greet her with a hug. “Thanks for stopping by!  Great to see you”

Offering to take her coat, my ears, perked like a an expectant puppy dog at dinner time, are keenly attuned to every nuance and syllable of her forthcoming delight and adulation for my decorating expertise.

“This is so funny”, she says, slipping her arm out of her jacket.  “I’m driving down the street slowly looking for your house number.  Suddenly my eyes were drawn to this awesome photo you have hanging on the wall.…”

My heart sank.  I don’t even know what else she said.

I will be the first to spout off about how proud I am of my daughter Caity and of her photographs that hang on walls throughout our home.  In fact, the large, framed photo of Oahu’s Sandy’s Beach in the foyer facing the street is one of my personal favorites.   But in that specific moment in which I had anticipated yet again basking in the glory of my “major award”, so delicately perched and presented in the window for all  passers-by to enjoy, I was heartbroken.

Sometimes neighbors see things they just aren’t supposed to see.

For instance,   I wonder what our backdoor neighbors, Sai and Padmini, think when they happened to glance out their back deck and catch me standing at the kitchen sink as I work the Netty Pot.   The objective, of course is to clear out my stuffy nose and sinuses.  I don’t know what country invented this little tool, but the first time I YouTubed ‘Netty Pot’ and watched some guy pour hot saltwater in one nostril so it could flow through his sinuses, and flow out the other nostril – I laughed out loud.  I can’t imagine what it looks like when it’s happening out your back door!  The sad truth is, having grown up around the ocean; the art of “sucking saltwater through my nose” is a ritual I thought I had invented.  I wonder if I’m due any royalties for this?

Ear Candling is another alternative therapy a casual onlooker might witness.  The objective is to create a vacuum that ‘sucks’ the wax out of my ears.  As a young boy my father always warned me, “Don’t stick anything in your ear unless it’s bigger than your elbow!” Of course I would develop into somewhat of an auricle explorer utilizing ballpoint pens (the ears nose and throat doc said I need to work on my penmanship), paper clips, and of course, Q-tips.  Under the guise of “magic trick gone awry”, I even had an Emergency Room visit to have a kernel of corn extracted (“Another two minutes, Kid, and you would have had pop corn in your ear!)

An Ear candle is a 12” long cone-shaped paper “thing”. Although slightly smaller than my elbow, it seems safe enough to insert the smaller side in my ear, while Leigh uses a lighter to light the other end.  There are a several sensory elements that work together to create the thrill.  First, the thought of a burning flame I cannot see, just inches from my head, is exciting.  The mild swooshing sound I hear is reminiscent of putting a seashell against my ear; although, instead of seagulls singing amidst the crashing surf, all I can hear are distant warnings about elbows and popcorn.

From the outside, it probably looks like Leigh is lighting me on fire.

After all that excitement, the real visual thrill is ‘The Big Reveal’;  with boyish anticipation I hastily unwrap the last two inches of the cone to see how much wax got sucked out.  I don’t care if is a scam or not – I do it for the thrill of the reveal!

Finally,  ‘White Lightning’  is a rare phenomenon which has occurred to my knowledge only at night.  After a fresh blanket of snow has fallen on the ground, ‘White Lightning’ occurs when Leigh jumps out of the hot tub, runs down the deck stairs,  lies on her back, makes Snow Angels, then runs back up into the hot tub.  I am certain she could hold a land-speed record in the Guiness Book of World Records.  There is no real objective here, but it does prove that, no matter what the age, a cold naked woman can move fast. Really fast.

(Image not available.)

I suspect whether it’s demonstrating competitive yoga positions, dancing with the dog, or rolling out tight hamstrings on a foam cylinder, there are some surprising things going on inside, that may not necessarily be reflected on the outside.  I know that’s the case with our home.  How about yours?

14 thoughts on “What will the neighbors think?

  1. I am still laughing – – the words were perfect, as usual, but that tie-dyed t-shirt broke me completely! You are a bright light in my mundane, overly serious life! Love, Sandy

  2. Guess we really never know how we affect others until they tell us. Sorry to have burst your bubble that evening! But you did well in covering your disappointment. Next year I’ll remember to comment on the “leg lamp”! That is, if I’m invited back.

  3. Pat, I never thought you’d prove to be even stranger than what I already knew of you. I’ve tried a smilar sinus thing, but I think I must have some sinus passages that aren’t supposed to be there because all I ever get is a splitting headache and that horrible feeling of swimming-pool chlorinated-water up your nose. And yes, I was holding my breath/slowly letting air out. As for the ear thing, I’m not sure that is good. The lamp? I already knew about that and try to not think about, but accept. I would have been with Becky Jo commenting on Caity’s photograph. Overall, great writing. Keep it up space-buddy!

  4. Love, Love, Love the Major Award Pat! It’s so much better than if they would have delivered a bowling alley, or at least the “damn deed”. Good stuff!

    Justine and I always look forward to it every year. This past year, we drove by and Justine said “oh crap, no leg lamp”. I had to tell her to simmer down as it wasn’t even thanksgiving. And for the record, I have no idea what pictures you have hanging up inside your house.

    Maybe next year you could put an oldsmobile out in the driveway that would freeze up in the middle of summer on the equator?

    1. Ha ha! Thanks Dave, I’ll have to check with the Neighborhood Bylaws on the Oldsmobile- but a couple times a year/month/week you can hear me swear like an artist dabbles in oils or clay. 😊

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