Dawn Watson | CNBNews Contributor
First of all, I live in a neighborhood where everybody knows your name. That isn’t always a good thing because they can address your indiscretions personally. Like, “Hey Dawn, I saw that your recycle bin spilled out onto the street yesterday. Switched from Blue Moon to Pabst? You okay?”
And, “Hey Dawn, I see by your birth date that you just got your social security check. Can I borrow five bucks?” and so on.
Those are just the things a small-town person deals with. But last week, it was different.
My truck wouldn’t start. And I needed food for my dogs. I needed to take the Shoe Leather Express.
It was bitter cold so I wore my Army-issue minus forty below puffy coat which, considering my girth, makes me look like that Michelin tire mascot. Then, since I wanted to walk to Dollar General without falling, I donned these boot-things that have grippers on the bottom. They’re warm because there is not only fur on the inside, there is fur on the outside! I’m not sure what the outside fur has going for it but the boots are nice and toasty.
Wanting to protect my increasingly patterned facial epidermis, I put on a gray ski mask I found at the dollar store. Not Dollar General. The Other One.
Never one to pass up a bargain, I bought it, believing that someday I’d travel to the North Pole to see if that Santa-thing was real.
I couldn’t find my gloves so I dug my way through an assortment of boxes until I found some wolf paws I wore one Halloween when I tried to make the werewolf costume work but found that one cannot hold a beer can without opposable thumbs. Not even with a dew claw.
As I set out I noticed that it was snowing, a blinding swirl of fluffy flakes that would have surely hurt had any part of my body been uncovered. Because I was unable to see clearly and was afraid of falling I extended my arms out to the sides of my puffy coat to enable careful balance.
It did not go as expected.
About a third of the way there a neighbor child and her mother approached from the opposite direction. The child, obviously not recognizing me in my ski mask, screamed. I tried to comfort her by saying, “It’s okay. It will just take a minute,” as I flailed around trying to pull off the mask.
She screamed louder. The mom picked her up and they ran across the street. Oh dear.
I kept walking, making a mental note to go to their house and explain, tomorrow.
Cars honked, probably because they knew me so I waved furiously in my wolf-paw gloves and called out, “Hey! Heeeyyy!” just so they’d know I appreciated their friendliness. I realized my greeting did not translate well through the layers of material when one of the honkers called out, “I’m calling the cops on you!”
‘Since when is it against the law to walk to a store?’ I thought.
Finally, I reached my destination, shed my mask and paws, and began shopping. While the return trip was uneventful I was upset about the screaming and honking. You see, in my city, everybody knows everybody and when a strange-looking stranger shows up it’s pretty much pandemonium.
I don’t have the nerve to tell them it was me walking around, allegedly in costume. Not even when neighbors gossip about the Big Bad Wolf of Gloucester City.
Best to let the gossip die down on its own.
Best to let sleeping wolves lie.
Artwork by CJ Petermann