I am no stranger to manual labor, though my mind and body prefer me to avoid it at all costs. I don’t look like someone for whom manual labor is a constant, that’s something I’m proud of. But property needs maintenance, and no one is going anywhere, so we must maintain it ourselves. My folks being in their early-60’s, I try to do all the heavy work that they shouldn’t be doing. And so, I recently had to move several large bricks and cinderblocks to fill in a groundhog hole. After that, I lifted and moved 10 or so flat slate pavement stones, many of which were buried under years of dirt and dead leaves.
None of this is exciting, but I ate a highly concentrated edible, so I was flying by my tits. I don’t know if it was the edible, the Lexapro, or just the lack of outdoor time during the pandemic, but the outside was wonderful. My father asked, “It’s nice to be outside, right Bud?” He calls me “Bud” and has since I was a young boy. I agreed, but also remarked that times are indeed strange when one needs to comment how the outside world still has its merits.
My duties then shifted to the front yard, where I was pulling up weeds in the cracks of the sidewalk. As I did, Tony LittleDog passed by with his wife. Tony LittleDog is a neighbor whom my family is friends with in that neighborly way where nobody has seen the inside of anyone else’s house, nor is any time spent together outside of chance encounters – but we’re friends. Oh, and his name came from a little dog that he had and walked every day in his oil-stained mechanic coveralls. The only time we saw him was when he walked that little dog, and we didn’t know his last name (or care to), so he became Tony LittleDog. That dog has since died, but somehow Tony NoDog or Tony DeadDog seemed a touch cold, so he remains Tony LittleDog.
Don’t interrupt. Anyway, Tony LittleDog and his wife walked by in the middle of the street. He and his wife waved, and Tony LittleDog smiled widely, saying, “Hi! We’re social distancing.” My mother, who was also doing some garden work, replied pleasantly. But I, thinking everyone understands when I’m kidding, replied, “Stay over there.” I’m not sure my inflection or delivery saved me, I may have just turned away the first new human contact in quite a while. You can’t be too careful, you know.