“Whats all this?” I asked tossing my garbage into the dumpster and walking over to get a glimpse of all the shenanigans. I figured it was my best approach. I hadn’t met any of my neighbors but one, and this was my chance to meet another. He shouted back in the typical gruff manner of the locals “Catching night crawlers!”
The contraption was facinating. Two copper poles bent at the tips and wrapped in rubber for handles. The poles went into the ground about 3 ft. Each pole was attached to a cord that was a smaller part of a frankenstined extension cord. The poles were shoved into the ground and left for a few moments to put a small current through the ground, and it took only seconds for worms and yes…night crawlers…to appear. Fleeing from an uncomfortably painful death.
I was completely fascinated. I spent over an hour with him picking up the squirming creatures. One of my greatest pleasures in life had been fishing and hunting bait. I love the opportunity to pick up something slimy. That’s not sarcasm either. I’m serious. I take a sick pleasure in playing with creepy crawlies. Salamanders, worms, fish, bugs of all kinds. I love them. I’m fascinated by them. They’re such strange and wonderful things. Oddities. I love a good oddity.
He slurred his fish tales as another of my older neighbors came out to join us with a couple beers. Talk of rough days between races in the 80s was prominent. The fishing controversies were a huge issue. There was an Asian culture came over in droves in the 80s. Apparently in the “Asian culture” (which I wondered if it was even Asian at all), fishing spots in the old country were claimed for life, and when they came to America that wasn’t the case. A great deal of gang violence ensued in the local area, because of fishing spots. People knifing each other and even shooting at boats like snippers. I tried not to smile, because I found the absurdity of the fights to be comical, even if the violence had been very real and unnerving at the time. A war zone? Here? Over fishing? I have heard of stranger things in our area.
As the sun went down I felt my shoulders bristle with chill. So I offered to help take in the cans and a few items, and bid my neighbors good night. As I walked back into my apartment I found myself realizing how much easier it was to make friends with my older neighbors than any of the younger ones. They were much deeper people. Had more interesting stories and facinating lives. They had seen more. Been more. Did more. They just felt like…more.
I was content with things. If I never met another neighbor, I was content. Those guys were great. Helpful and compassionate. It was like having uncles to hang out with. They had your back since you were the young buck, and gave you all the advice in the world if you were willing to sit and drink with them for an hour. Or perhaps go fishing with.
It was a perfect introduction.