Down a path in the woods, slipping through an opening in a fence, we would sneak onto the remotely situated 13th hole of a nearby golf course in the early evening, after the golfers had all gone home. Kicking off our shoes and lying on the forbidden plush blanket of perfectly manicured lawn, the likes of which none of us had experienced, we gazed at the cloud shapes, marveled at the sunset. Magical memories, selective, but still….
Young girls, we chased neighborhood boys and brothers with Beatle haircuts through the sand traps while we screamed “John! Paul! George! Ringo! We took the flag that marked the 13th hole and marched across the circle of the green, singing made-up songs. When the sprinklers came on, we would dodge and leap under the water arcs, run through the rainbows. If we were detected by Someone In Charge, we would scatter, instantly vanishing back into the woods and out through the break in the fence, gone in a flash. In the winter we sledded fast down the steep hill to the bottom, riding like daredevils while standing up on the sled, flying over bumps that could render us airborne. Or went down riding two on a sled on top of each other “double-decker” style, lying flat with our arms out to make planes, like wings, as we hurled down the slope, face first.
Swinging from a fat, knotted rope in our friend’s huge, old apple tree. Red Rover, Dodge Ball. Kickball in the street. Yet one of the sweetest of them all was pretending to be magical faeries, dancing around and under a small Japanese maple on a very small square of a neighbor’s verdant lawn – a space that sparkled with fireflies at dusk – in a front yard that belonged to “The Beep-Bop.”
“The Beep-Bop” was an old man, at least old in our eyes. From this view looking back, he probably wasn’t very old at all. He may have had a wife living there with him, or grown children, but we knew nothing about him except when he would stick his head out the door to yell at us. There were no kids there our age, or certainly we would have known them. A group of us gathered to dance on his lush, perfect grass and sit in a circle under the weeping boughs of his small tree, making whistles from blades of grass and weaving clover into chains and crowns. We were magical faeries twirling in the firefly lights who had found our secret place to frolic. Oblivious to the fact that we had planted ourselves right in front of his living room window, his house faded into invisibility while we were steeped in the play of our fantastical stories.
We couldn’t understand why he didn’t want us there, gruffly chasing us away. Wanting to call him a “bad name” but young enough to not have fine-tuned our potty-mouths yet, we chose the sound that the censors make when they bleeped out a verbal obscenity from the media. “Beep-Bop”.
While saying “beep-bop” represented no specific word, it became as powerful as any swear. This old-man homeowner became known as “The Old Beep-Bop”. “Beep-bop!!!” we yelled, the ultimate cuss, as we dispersed from his yard, banished from our magic kingdom.
I was ushered back to that mystical location of the past when I noticed the fireflies were blinking in my front yard last night, which suddenly brought up the buried memory of The Beep-Bop Man. It then occurred to me that in my older age I believe I probably have become “That Old Beep-Bop Lady” to a few people.
At times I have been known to call out people who do not-very-nice, hurtful or disrespectful things. There was a time I might have kept quiet so as not to make any waves. Yet as I age, the possible stigma or impression attached to a person who speaks their mind no longer fazes me. After a lifetime of being too shy or too quiet while being sh*t upon (beep-bop, beep bop!) I really don’t care what people think at this point. If someone is being a beep-bop, especially where it concerns me, I am going to say something about it.
The other night around 11pm I was out walking the dog. After wishing he would hurry up and finish his business so I could go to bed, he finally circled around a few times and settled into mid-squat when some beep-bop shot off fireworks. It was one of those candle-type things that explodes in the air like a colorful dandelion, then rains down. The thing loudly blew up directly over my head. The dog practically levitated off the ground (and did not complete what he was preparing to do). The sparks showered down towards us as I quickly pulled him away.
There were three or four of the beep-bop culprits on the corner. It was too dark, but I recognized the blue light coming from the pedals of a bike. I yelled at them. So the beep-bops set off a second one in our direction for good measure. When Mr. Blue Bicycle Light (a man, not a kid) pedaled past my front steps, I yelled at him too. “THANKS A LOT! REALLY?????? JUST THANKS A LOT FOR SCARING MY DOG, AND EVERYONE ELSE’S PETS AND WAKING UP ALL THE SLEEPING BABIES IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD!”
“It wasn’t me” he called back as he zoomed away. “Beep-bop” I yelled back at him. Things have been going like this over the past week or so. We are all a bit edgy lately.
After unenthusiastically needing to venture into the supermarket yesterday, there was a guy standing over the conveyor belt at check out who was wearing his mask with his nose sticking out, breathing his potentially COVID-laden fumes all over my food. I’m sorry if you don’t like wearing a mask over your nose buddy. Do you think anyone does? Are people who do this incredibly selfish or just incredibly stupid? What a beep-bop! Of course I did not say aloud those things I was thinking, but I asked him, “Can you please pull your mask up over your nose?” He obliged, then he walked away. Probably called me a beep-bop to his fellow employees. Really, I don’t care. I tell the beep-bops walking the wrong direction down the isle in the market they are going the wrong way too. They mumble “beep-bop” as they continue on by.
Then there are a few of the neighbors. It’s a tricky thing when you have to tactfully ask a neighbor to please not do something. Sometimes it goes over better than other times. There were the nice people renting next door that kept running over our lawn so they could park both of their cars in their driveway, one in front of the other, instead of parking one of them on the street in front of their house. If the car in the back was blocking the one in the front when one of them wanted to go out, instead of moving one of the cars they would just drive right over our strip of lawn and then use our driveway to go around. I didn’t say anything for a really long time, because yeah, it’s a nuisance to have to move a car to get out, I get it. But nobody even bothered to ask if it was OK, and after a while, especially after rain or in winter, it started to leave muddy ruts. You would think someone would have thought maybe that wasn’t so nice to do to your next door neighbors yard, right? And these are nice people.
Eventually I asked them to please not do that anymore. They obliged, and instead started parking one of their cars right on the small stone walkway in front of their (rental) front steps. I don’t know if their landlord cares, but their landlord happens to be a major beep-bop, so maybe not. I am guessing they thought I was just an old pain in their beep-bop.
Add another one to this week where there was the guy pumping chemical weed killer all over his front yard, along his neighbors’s fence and into the median on the other side of the sidewalk by the road, in a place where people walk past with their dogs, and parents pass by with kids in strollers and on bikes. I was across the street with my dog and you could smell the stuff strongly in the air. Yes, it was his own yard and maybe I should have minded my own business. But the distressing part of this that prompted me to speak up was that he had a toddler following close behind him, right on his heels, inhaling the fumes. I had to say something. I mentioned as politely as possible that the spray was toxic and a carcinogen, and pointed to the child and my own dog. He just said “thank you” and continued spraying the poison. He probably would have sprayed me if he could, just another pest. What a beep-bop.
As if that wasn’t enough, the other tenant in that house next door has a sweet, large, excitable dog, which he walks on one of those retractable leashes. I feel there is a place for a retractable leash, but using them left fully extended on a city sidewalk is not one of them. He has no control over his happy dog as it bounds down the street. He lets the leash reel out about 15 feet in any direction, while the dog bolts forward, or into the street, or into people’s yards – and he doesn’t reel the dog back. So he is not curbing his dog, instead letting it spool out on a long, long line, out into the very middle of our front yard. Under the bird feeder. Up to the flowers.
I see this from my window every day, multiple times a day. If I am sitting out on the front porch and he sees me, he doesn’t let it happen. But if I am not out there, he does. Why does he think it is OK to do that? I feel he is being kind of a beep-bop. Yet I haven’t said anything for months. I just kept hoping he would stop doing it. Finally, because apparently I am on a beep-bop confrontation roll, this morning I asked him if he could please not do that anymore. I am sure he thinks I am just an old, gray-haired busy-body-beep-bop in the house next door. The look on his face was in Big Print. I don’t care.
On the subject of dog owners who are incredible beep-bops, I need to mention the woman who allowed her dog first to pee on my flowers and then stand there while he kicked up the dirt macho-style afterwards, over and over again, ripping out all the plants. I could not believe she just stood there and let it happen. I opened my door and told her in the future please don’t let her dog dig up my flowers. I haven’t seen her on our side of the street since. Go away, I don’t care.
I could go on. I could talk about the guy two houses down who walks his dogs without leashes and lets them do big dumps in our yard, which he refuses to clean up. Finally I went down to his house and left him a roll of poop bags just in case he didn’t have any, and a friendly as possible note asking him if he could please use them to clean up afterwards. After that he stopped saying hello and would just glare at me if I waved to him. He also stopped walking with his dogs past the house in the daytime…….but every night around midnight he stands in front of his own house and let his dogs loose to saunter down to ours to do their business.
Each night the larger dog would pee on our front steps and then take a massive poop (German Shepherd style) in the middle of our yard under the bird feeder. The first time I discovered this was after running over it with the lawn mower. Another day I watched the mailman barely dodge one of these midnight gifts while cutting across the grass to deliver the mail. Our video doorbell revealed the culprit a number of times, so there was no mistake. What a beep-bop!
I really don’t care if a dog goes on our grass if the owner picks it up. Dogs are dogs and they gotta go somewhere. Since he was not making himself available to talk, I left him another note in his mailbox saying as much, that I don’t mind if your dog craps on our lawn, just please take it with you. I left him a screenshot from the video of his dog doing the deed so he knows that we know who it is. I attached a copy of our city ordinance about fines (a joke since they don’t seem to enforce it – apparently it’s $100 a poop – who knew?). I said we want to be good neighbors, just please pick up the poop.
Yet rather than pick up his dog’s mess, what he does now is walk his dogs (without a leash) in the other direction. He will not even look my way when we cross paths. I’m sure he thinks I am just an old beep-bop. I didn’t care as long as it stopped. It did stop for a while. But the other evening, there was his dog again, unaccompanied, doing his business in our yard. I just don’t understand why some people are so disrespectful. It seems to be the way of the world now.
Which brings me back to “The Old Beep-Bop” in the neighborhood of my youth. He might actually have been a very nice guy who just didn’t want a gang of trespassing kids twirling around, singing and talking loudly by his front window at dinner time. I notice that more and more people my age are not afraid to speak out when people are acting like beep-bops. I guess it might come with the territory. I’m actually a nice lady who makes brownies, tries to be thoughtful and friendly and has a lot of love and compassion in my heart. I never imagined I could become The Old Beep-Bop Lady, yet here we are. Apparently I have reached my beep-bop saturation point.
However, I think I would truly enjoy a group of young, dancing faeries in my front yard…