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My mom—one of the lesser known saints from the Midwest—does not like the clinking of liquor bottles in a cabinet, the sound glass makes as somebody pushes one bottle out of the way for another to find the right one to make a drink. This particular type of clatter reminds her of a bar, and as everybody knows, homes are not bars. Homes are places where coffee cups clink in the morning, and glasses of milk clink at night. My mom is fine with the noise that juice jars and iced tea make in the fridge as they get moved around. It’s liquor bottles in a cabinet that bother her. Demon rum.
She wouldn’t be pleased with the clatter that overtakes my neighborhood every Monday morning, when all of my neighbors haul boxes, bags and garbage cans full of empty beer bottles out of their homes and dump the bottles with a deafening roar into their recycle bins. I’m usually sitting at my computer with the front door open by 7 a.m.—coffee in hand, easy listening station on in the background, grading student homework—and one after another I hear the Smiths, the Andersons, the Willie Nelson impersonator open their garage door, take a few dusty steps across the driveway, and CRASH!!! Cascade, break, clatter, tinkle.
This has to happen at least three times before I know that the drinkers on my street are recovering from the weekend and in good shape for the recycle truck that comes later in the week.
Clinking doesn’t bother my dad as much; he is a country man and a forester, with a strong sense of property boundaries. My dad would happily live with ten acres of woods between his house and the next, his house and the road, his house and any other person but his wife. He wouldn’t be happy with my neighbors to the west whose weeds and rose bushes now fall over the rock barrier into my front yard. When he remembered that half their house burned down last Thanksgiving, he might give them some leeway...but even leeway has an expiration date.
He wouldn’t be happy with Steve, my neighbor to the east, whose cigarette butts and pop bottle caps—no roses bushes there—consistently find their way into my yard on that side. My dad doesn’t like noise, so he’d be particularly irritated with Steve’s dog Max—two years old now, a puppy since birth. No morning around here is complete without Steve taking Max out to the backyard…Max who should’ve been named after a Happy Days character.
Max: Whoa Whoa Whoa Whoa!
Steve (whispering): Max! Be quiet.
Max: Bow Wow Whoa Whoa Whoa!
Steve (whispering): Max! Shh! Be a good boy.
Max: I found my thrill…
Even though I’m missing springtime in Minnesota—the toothpick races, the first green buds on the trees, kids clopping around in their rainboots—I have to stay loyal to Arizona because I live here. Arizonans have their doors and windows open: we’re weeding and cleaning, chopping down plants that didn’t make it through the crazy winter, planting new. We're running full court presses, holding down jobs, paying bills, raising kids, fertilizing our yards during time-outs, throwing down a pre-season yard sale if we have a good friend or neighbor to help.
Trying to figure out who to vote for next.