I'm not saying it started with the mashed potatoes, but it certainly didn't end there.
I live in a "New South" community - carefully planned and executed as to mimic the "Old South" neighborhoods, where homes are close together, and we're all linked by greenways and sidewalks. Where people are encouraged to linger on a neighbor's porch, or start an impromptu game of kickball in the common area. Where the alleys that run behind our homes become the gathering place of children, and beers are shared over barbeques all summer long.
In reality, people let their dogs shit all over the greenways, so impromptu games of kickball often become impromptu games of wipe-dog-shit-off-your-shoes, and the alley as a gathering place has become a warzone thanks to the woman we'll call Gladys.
She's a staunch supporter of the Homeowner's Association which, in theory, isn't a bad thing. HOAs can be a force of good, making sure Cletus doesn't keep his '76 Dodge Dart on blocks in the front yard or have rockin' house parties when all the decent folks are trying to sleep. But Gladys really takes it to a new level. One that includes reporting children's shoes on porches for more than a day, or improperly contained trash receptacles, or a dozen other 'infractions'.
She's a real a-hole.
As a result, she's not super popular with either the neighbors or the HOA. We've lived in relative peace for over eight years, but in the past year Gladys has really ramped things up.
"What do you mean, she threw leftovers on the sidewalk?" The Husband is talking to the woman who lives behind us and right next door to Gladys.
"I mean, there was a big pile of food on the sidewalk in front of my house. Who else would have done it?"
"Well, what kind of food?" (This may seem like a silly question but, really, you'd want to know, right?)
"Well, there were mashed potatoes."
When The Husband relayed the story to me later, it was this point that really struck me. "Mashed potatoes!" I kept saying. "That is fucking ridiculous!" Because other starches - macaroni, some pilaf, even a sweet potato - seems so much more logical. "Why the mashed potatoes?" I couldn't help but wonder if, somehow, the mashed potatoes held the key.
It went from bad to worse when Gladys decided to stick her tongue out at another neighbor's 8 year old daughter.
1. Who does that?
2. What adult does that?
The mother, a very sweet nurse-in-training who also happens to look like Jessica Rabbit and has a wide streak of the badass, marched down to Gladys' house and told her, "You stick your tongue out at my kid again and I'm going to rip it out of your fucking throat."
Who says nothing good happens in the suburbs?
Gladys has had the nurse-neighbor arrested (twice), stolen (allegedly) the shutters off another neighbors house, screamed and cursed multitudes of children, not to mention the mashed potato incident. And this month, she won the Yard of the Month. I can only assume it's because of her superior composting skills.
Despite Gladys, maybe even a little because of her, there is always something to talk about over beers and barbeques, watching our kids ride the alley, carefully steering clear of her property. I see her outside sometimes, working in the yard, casting furtive glances our way. I raise my bottle and tip it her way, and offer a hesitant smile.
She looks at me for a moment and then, in reply, sticks out her tongue.
12 hours ago