Late last evening, I sat out on my patio by myself reading The Business of Being a Woman on my iPad. Written in 1921 by Ida Tarbell, the book argues against women’s equality and for their return to the home where “they belong.” The book is an interesting contrast between Ms. Tarbell’s argument against women seeking a fulfilling life beyond the boundaries of hearth and home and her own life as a leading journalist of the day.
As I sat reading and contemplating the fate of women and the changes that have occurred over the past 100 years, I heard a woman’s voice. It was our new neighbor. The house next door to us, which had been for sale for a very long time, was purchased and is now a rental property. It’s not an ideal situation to have next door. At least the new tenants keep the yard in nice shape. I’m afraid their personal lives could use some of the attention they give to their yard.
The first few weeks after they moved in were filled with classic rock. A stereo system was set up on their deck. It had an admirable sub woofer, too. Thump, thump…all day and all night. I could handle the classic rock, but from time to time (I suppose beer consumption played a part here) they would switch to some really horrible modern country music, twangy and totally redneck. The constant concert stopped as suddenly as it began. It lasted for a few weeks, but they haven’t blasted music for quite a while now. Maybe the stereo is broken. (I hope!) Maybe a neighbor complained.
We’re not sure who lives there or what the configuration of family is in that house. There is a woman about my age, a youngish blonde man (her lover?), and several young “ladies” in their early 20’s. None of them appear to work. All of them love to walk around in bikinis.
About a week ago, excitement broke out when an ambulance and two cop cars pulled up in front of the house. Mind you, in a small town (less than 2,000 people) this is a major event. The girls and I went out and sat on the front porch. We giggled as we looked down the street to see people on almost every porch or lawn. A neighbor and her daughter headed over to sit with us. We could see activity through the windows. My neighbor speculated, “Domestic violence.” She works at the county courthouse, and said that something had to be amiss if there were two police cars dispatched. They loaded the older woman into the ambulance and drove away. Strangely, no one else in the house even followed. We all sat in wonderment, probably with our mouths open as country folks are known to do.
The two deputies stopped by their cars, and then came over to sit on the porch with us. Yes, this is a true story! They told us what had happened. The older woman had “thrown a fit,” according to them. She had raged for hours at the other members of the household. I hadn’t heard a thing, and I had spent most of the day outside working in the yard. As the finale of her rage, she slashed her wrists in front of them all. She was back home the next day watering her plants on the front porch, bandaged wrists and all.
The whole incident kind of freaked me out. I certainly have warned the girls, who stay home alone all day while I am at work, to steer clear of the neighbors. I try to get inside the mind of someone who would/could do such a thing. As a person who suffers (accurate word!) from depression, it is not so hard to imagine such an act, but it is very difficult thing to imagine someone who would actually follow through with such a thing.
I often hear her on the other side of the fenced back yard. She talks on the phone, laughs, plays with her dog, and certainly spends a great deal of time yelling at the other members of the household. Last night was no exception. As I sat reading, she laid into whoever was out there with her. “You’re not fucking going anywhere.” Fuck this….fuck that. As I read this old book about the eventual destruction of the family unit and the gentleness of women, I witnessed it firsthand.