I've talked in excess about the gangs of little kids roving the streets in my neighborhood. Mostly doing really dumb things. For example, the other day they were having Razr scooter races in the middle of the road. I was in my car, so I probably could have beat them, but I didn't want to show off. But mostly, their antics have nothing to do with me and I hardly even think about them. This particular incident, however, did have something to do with me.
A few weeks ago I was minding my own business, writing a blog post, when I got a ring on the doorbell. Considering I don't really know anyone down here, I was slightly surprised, but figured it was just someone trying to sell me some moonshine. Get it, it's an Arkansas stereotype, cuz I live here now. I found it from this fun list of Arkansas stereotypes!
EDIT: Good news! I also just text messaged ChaCha to give me some Arkansas stereotypes! Here is their answer:
"Arkansas stereotypes include people keeping pallets, old tires, abandoned trucks and parts lying around. ChaCha!"
Thanks, ChaCha, you never let me down. Anyway, back to the story. So the doorbell rings, and I was pretty cautious, because what if it was the Craigslist killer? I may not match his victim description, but he could be changing things up! I opened the door and it was just one of the neighborhood kids on his bike. He had a puffy face like he'd been crying, and he was staring at the ground. He asked if I had a lawn mower, which kind of took me aback. He talked very quietly. He said that it didn't matter if I let him use it or not, which if that's the case, why even ask? I said that I did and that he could, and it seemed pretty obvious he was being punished to mow the lawn or something, and so the rest of the discussion went as follows:
"Are you in trouble or something?"
"No, I'm not in trouble."
"So your parents need to use the lawn mower?"
"No, I need to use the mower."
"It's a push mower. Do you know how to use it?"
"Yes, I mowed my uncle's lawn once."
"Why do you look so sad?"
"I'm not sad."
But he was fucking sad. Or just ultra socially awkward. Which is kind of sad. Anyway, he took the mower over to his yard (which already looked mowed), and mowed like a champion for like 15 minutes and brought it right back. Pretty strange exchange (haha, "strange exchange"). I thought that was the end of it. An isolated incident that I would tell my friends about but they wouldn't believe me, or care.
Until it happened again, when I had friends over! The first time, he rang the doorbell only once. This time I could have sworn there was an ice cream truck in my living room; he was going nuts on that doorbell. I answered and he had the same sullen demeanor, and he asked the question: "can I borrow your lawn mower." Well gas is pretty expensive, and by this point he'd used the lawn mower as many times as I had. So instead of answering his question, I looked at his hand and noticed his finger looked bloody, so I asked what was wrong with his finger. He said it was only mud, but I'm still skeptical.
Anyway, he took the mower, but he kept it much longer this time. He had it for so long that my friends and I went for a walk until he was finished, and when we got back, he was mowing my duplex-mate's yard! We went back inside, and I heard him mowing my yard too, but just the front yard. My words here cannot describe how odd this was. Maybe he felt like repaying me for letting him use the mower, or maybe he expected me to pay him? I don't know. Either way, I kind of hope this keeps up; if so, I'll never have to mow my front yard again.
The one thing I don't get is why he mowed my neighbor's yard. I barely see her, and we've spoken like three times total. I imagine her internal monologue went something like this: "Whelp. Just pullin' into the ol' driveway. Wait, what's this, my yard is mowed? But I didn't mow today, by golly! Hmm, the neighbor I rarely talk to has his yard mowed too. I bet he mowed my yard, but why?? Is this a friendly gesture and now he expects me to make him a casserole? Or did he take pictures of me in the bathroom through the window and this is how he's repaying me!?"