Prostitution and Crack Cocaine

“Something is really weird over there,” I said to my husband Steve. “Those cars in the driveway and in the street are the ones I see at various times during the week in the driveway when she isn’t home.”

“Well, it is Thanksgiving. Maybe those are her friends or other single mothers celebrating together,” he replied.

“Who celebrates Thanksgiving with the shades drawn?” I asked.

“Well, we don’t know the layout of that house,” he said, “Maybe they’re in the backyard.”

“They aren’t in the backyard,” I said, “I can see the backyard from the upstairs bedroom and I already checked.”

“You checked?? Why are you so obsessed with this?” he asked.

“It’s the house right next door. Those cars are in the driveway at all weird times during the week. I just wonder what’s going on in there. I was telling the lady who owns the tree trimming company about it when she was here and she thought it might be a crack house or a prostitution venue and told me to call the police neighborhood watch division,” I said. “I mean, she’s been in Texas a lot longer than us; maybe she knows something we don’t.”

“That’s a bit of a stretch,” Steve said. “I really wouldn’t worry about it until you have far more evidence.” Then he went out for a run.

I might be a little OCD and the truth is I was and have been obsessed with whatever is going on next door. The woman who lives there is named Marisol. I remember that by thinking “aerosol”. She’s probably late 30’s and is a single mother of a young boy. They are rarely home and I suspect they sleep over at a boyfriend of Marisol’s most nights and that part is fine by me and is also none of my business.

The problem I have is that during the week, when Marisol’s car is not there while she is working I often see one or more of three cars parked in her driveway. They are a black Suburban, a white SUV of some kind and a black Audi. I’m convinced something sinister is going on, yes, like drugs or prostitution.

I wasn’t cooking for Thanksgiving as we were going out so when Steve went running, I sat down to read on my comfy chair in my downstairs office which has a huge picture window looking out to the street with the big, beautiful trees (take note: I said “beautiful” regarding something in Texas!!) and Marisol’s driveway. At around 4:00pm I heard her front door open. I threw my book, jumped up and leapt to the window. A man walked out, went to the street, got into the black Suburban and drove away. Hmmmmm, I thought.

I retrieved my book and sat back down. Five minutes later I heard the door open again. I threw my book, jumped up and leapt to the window. A woman walked out, got in the Audi and drove away. I knew it!! I thought. There’s a prostitution ring operating over there! Wait till I tell Steve!!

My book was starting to look a little disheveled. But I sat back down and found my way to the page where I left off, began to read and I heard the door again. My poor book.

This time an older man walked to the white SUV. I was thinking he seemed a little old to be involved in prostitution. Maybe he was a senior pimp? He unlocked the car and got a small cooler out of the back seat then walked back to the house and put it inside the door. He then walked back to the car and got a second cooler, went in the house and closed the door.

He’s replenishing the drugs for the prostitution ring, I thought. What drugs have to be kept cool? Heroin? Crack? Is crack the same as heroin? Wait, crack is cocaine of some kind, right? Different than heroin? I’m sure all these drugs have to be kept cool and that is why he has them in coolers. Now he is going in there to transfer them from the cooler to the refrigerator for the next trick. (Aren’t you guys surprised I knew the word for a prostitution transaction was “trick”?)

My thoughts were interrupted by the tone 0f a text coming in to my iPhone. It was Steve saying he’d stopped for a coffee and asking how I was doing. I told him I was fine but had a LOT to tell him about the house next door when he got home.

This time my book got a break because I hadn’t sat back down. I heard the door and zipped over to the window. Out walked the older man, an older woman each holding a small cooler and……Marisol and her son.

“Okay, mom, dad, drive safe! Enjoy the leftovers!” she said with a smile. “Tommy, say bye to gramma and grandpa! And Tommy, did you say bye to Aunt Sarah and Uncle Bill before they left a few minutes ago?”

Just then Steve walked in. “So, what’s new next door, Sherlock?”
I had to eat crow.

YMCA Big Texas Hair

After we were in Texas for a couple months, I knew we both needed to join a gym for exercise and to control our stress. We checked out the trendy and expensive Equinox which overflowed with young, gorgeous people in expensive Nike outfits working hard on their glutes, abs and biceps while glancing around self consciously as the music pounded. I’m too old for this, I thought.

Then we checked out Gold’s Gym, which was filled with body builders who were groaning, flexing, dropping weights with a loud bang and grunt then sashaying around while the music blared. I’m too old for this, I was sure Steve was thinking.

Finally one day when Steve was at work, I saw an ad for the YMCA and wistfully remembered how much I loved those gay guys singing that song back in the day. So I went to check it out and I immediately loved it. There were young people, old people, fat people, skinny people, white people, black people, straight people, gay people, Nike people, Target people, but best of all, no music. And that makes perfect sense since everyone is listening to music with ear-buds these days anyway! I happen to like silence when I work out and find music at those already dreadful times annoying. The facility was newish, clean and cheap!

At my YMCA the yoga teacher, Susie, has big, blond Texas hair and wears a different sequined top to every class. The other day she was bummed because she couldn’t get a light in front of the class to go on and she said, “Ooooh, I’m so mad, I can’t get this light on and I want ya’ll to see my top!” She ended up going mat to mat so we each could see its brilliance. Then at the end of Savasana, the delightful ending ritual in every yoga class, while we were all flat on our backs and deeply relaxed, she said quietly and slowly, “Now ya’ll deepen your breath, begin to wiggle your fingers and toes, bring yourself back into the room, roll gently to your right and stay there a minute and when you’re ready, get up slowly, come to a comfortable seated position and fix your hair.” I’m not kidding but she was, however she was fixing her hair as she said it.

Lovely Linda

“Okay, this is going to hurt a little,” my new aesthetician said as she ripped hot wax off my upper lip.
“OW!” I cried.
“I know, I know, I’m sorry,” she said pressing hard onto my lip with her sterile gloved fingers.

I just met Linda for the first time today and we hit it off. She is pretty, thin and girly and we laughed a lot. She is also an artist so her little skin care studio is filled with her art in various mediums. She makes intricately detailed greeting cards, beautifully adorned gift-card holders, remarkable heart sculptures, lovely paintings and jewelry.

“It’s awesome that you are an aesthetician and also an artist,” I commented.
“I’m also a handyman,” she blurted out.

Being as feminine as she is, I thought that was a hilarious joke and I laughed out loud.

“I’m not kidding,” she said, “and I’m not talking about changing light bulbs.”
“What?” I said.
“Yeah, my father was a builder and starting at age 3, I was his gofer. By the time I was 8 I knew the names of all the tools and was learning to build, install, repair, do drywall, woodworking and painting. By the time I was 20 I could do just about anything. I installed that sink, garbage disposal, faucet and cabinetry,” she said pointing to a corner in her studio.”
“Are you serious?” I said astounded.
“Yes,” she said, “I can do your micro-derma abrasion, your eyebrow waxing and your drywall repairs!”
“Wow,” I said, “how convenient!”

We continued to chat while she worked on my face. I learned she’s been in Dallas for 20 years, is divorced and doesn’t mind being single. Linda has a little dog whom she adores and sometimes dates through which happens to be headquartered here.

“You know”, she said, “when you are out of your forties you can’t hope to meet men at bars.” I loved the way she said ‘out of your forties’ instead of ‘into your fifties.’ “Men that age who are at bars are looking for much younger women.” I agreed with her.
“Yeah, I’m meeting one tomorrow,” she said.
“One?” I laughed.
“Yeah, one,” she said, “that’s what I call these guys until I know more about them. They usually don’t last for more than a couple weeks when their psychosis start to show up. The one tomorrow will be interesting,” she continued, “his profile was so impressive! He’s a card carrying Mensa, he’s very athletic, he’s interested in Eastern Philosophy and other really esoteric stuff and he sounds like a lot of fun. When I read his profile to my friend, Sarah, she said she wanted to date him! But then I showed her his picture.”

Linda went on to describe how the one tomorrow has a beard, which is about 2 inches across at the bottom of his chin and then sticks about 4 inches straight downward. She said it was so weird that he had that beard while everything else seemed so perfect. So, Sarah told Linda that all she has to do is wait until he wants to have sex and say, “Dude, everything is working for me here, but the beard has to go.”

“Well,” Linda said to me, “Maybe I should meet the beard before I start scheming.”

“Yeah,” I said, “go meet the beard first.”

Don’t Mess with Texas’ Squirrels

We have a larger population of squirrels in Texas than anywhere else in the world. I just made that up, but when you come here you will believe it, too. Squirrels are to Dallas what rabbits are to Scottsdale and chickens are to Kauai.

Recently, at the park down the street, I saw two playing in a tree with such aggression and abandon that I said to a woman standing near me, “Oh my god, those squirrels are going to fall right out of that tree!”

“No!” she exclaimed. “I’ve lived in Dallas for 30 years! They never fall out of trees!” With that, both squirrels fell about 10 feet, slammed onto the ground, screamed and ran in opposite directions. The lady and I just looked at each other. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to mess with Texas.

Hey all ya’ll!

Several people in Texas have said, “I like your accent.” No one has ever said that to me before in my entire life. “It’s an intelligent accent.” one woman said. I don’t know what they are referring to. Granted, I don’t say “ya’ll” or “jus’ sayin’” or “fixin’ to leave” but does that constitute an accent?

Just recently I heard that in Texas slang “ya’ll” is singular and “all ya’ll” is plural. I couldn’t believe it. So when Steve and I bellied up to the bar at a trendy neighborhood restaurant I called the bartender over.

“Hello Sir,” I said.
“Good evening, ma’am……sir,” he nodded to Steve.
“Sir, I’m new to Texas and I just heard that “ya’ll” is singular and I’m struggling with that,” I said.
“Why are you struggling with it?” he asked perplexed.
“Well, I would think “ya’ll” means “you all” which would mean more than one person,” I said.
“Ma’am,” he said, “let me give you one piece of advice; don’t ever try to apply correct English grammar to Texas slang. Texas slag knows no rules. Just roll with it. Over time it will all make sense.”

Meanwhile, the “G” fell off the sign at Whole Foods for SHOPPING CARTS. So now it says SHOPPIN CARTS. They don’t bother fixin’ it because that sounds just fine to the people in Texas.


Salon Lady

People raise really polite people here in Texas. There is a lot of traffic but if you turn your signal on, the car in the other lane will most likely let you in with a friendly wave, which I find shocking. And, twice I’ve seen people put their car in reverse and back up to let someone in!! I am originally from Los Angeles and this is simply unheard of.

And, everyone calls everyone else “Sir and Ma’am.” As in “Yes, Sir” and “Thank you, Ma’am.” I constantly hear parents saying to their children, “did you say ‘Thank you Ma’am’?” Or, “did you say ‘yes sir’?” It is ingrained in Texans. It is so prevalent that within a week I was saying sir and ma’am at all times. I guess it’s a Southern thing.

But around here they say this is not the South, this is Texas!

Of course, you also hear “ya’ll” everywhere. I was with an acquaintance talking to a gal at a salon and she asked me why I was laughing. I said it was because I’m so new to Dallas and that I’m just not used to hearing “ya’ll”. She was dumbfounded and said, “Well, if you are talking to more than one person, what do you say? How do you say it?”
“You guys,” I said, “We say ‘you guys’.”
“But what if they are girls?” the salon lady asked bewildered.
“It doesn’t matter,” I said, “it covers both sexes just like ya’ll.”

Ya’ll is so prevalent and I refuse to say it! The Texans say I will, though. They say it will creep into my vocabulary like chiggers sneak into your shoes! As we were leaving, the salon gal said, “Bye ya’ll.” I wondered if she was pulling my chain.

On Gorillas and God (A Little Risk Maybe But I Don’t Care)

In response to a comment on my last post, I thought this should be out there. Thanks my friends.

Thank you, Lisa. Beautiful comment. And yes, in my STRONG opinion there is no conflict between evolution and God. Some higher power/being/God/Universe obviously orchestrated this entire life thing we are living/humans AND animals….this could not be a random mistake. From an animal standpoint there is so much intense beauty, a Mandrill’s colorful face when she looks at her little baby boy, Obi at the zoo while he jumps on her head with youthful enthusiasm, the gorillas playing and laughing in the rain, the penguins all lining up and standing there for so long and then jumping in the water all at the same time, the 500 pound tiger who prefers to be alone playing with a huge work out ball in the water, the cheetah and her best friend the black labrador retriever whom she has been raised with since birth and who live together now and let zoo guests see them prance and play when they are in the mood.

Why wouldn’t God allow evolution? It’s such a beautiful process. We share 98.4 percent of our DNA with gorillas yet we are not gorillas and gorillas are not human. In fact, science tells us that we had a common ancestor who we branched off from the gorillas and who is now extinct. Why would we not try to understand these beings as brothers and sisters? Why does that conflict with there being a God?

I know now that I’m REALLY messing with Texas. And I’m interested in responses. Good, bad, ugly, please.

Gorillas In My Midst

In Texas, twenty percent of our enormous Barnes and Noble has been allocated to Christian Studies and Bibles and nothing opens until noon on Sunday because everyone is at church. And, you can’t buy alcohol until noon on Sundays because you should be in church, too, not out buying booze. The ironic thing is, on early Sunday afternoons every restaurant is packed to the brim with people drinking Mimosas, Grasshoppers, Bloody Mary’s or white wine.

Okay, now that I got that off my chest, there was this guy at the zoo where I volunteer and he and I were observing Gorillas together. At the Dallas zoo you can be 1 inch away from a 425 pound Gorilla. There are 3 layers of treated glass between you and him but you can stare into his eyes and he can stare into yours.

More dramatic than that, the big boys often get annoyed but mostly show-offy and will “display” which includes running up and back by the glass, pulling branches off trees and waving them, chasing each other, throwing rocks, pounding their chests, and my favorite, turning toward the crowd suddenly, rushing to the glass quickly, then aggressively pounding on it. It is so alarming that every human instinctually vocalizes in some way and jumps back. Even me, and I’m used to it.

“So,” I said to this guy, who was clearly fascinated with gorillas, “according to the Smithsonian Institute their DNA is 98.4 the same as ours.”
“I know,” he said.
I went on, “They have the opposing forefinger/thumb relationship; it’s like they have four hands. They can do anything with their feet that they can do with their hands. You can actually consider their feet superior to ours.”
“It’s amazing,” he said.
“They don’t like deep water; they are so densely muscular that they would sink and drown and they instinctively know that.” I continued.
“I didn’t know that,” he said.
“Yeah, and unlike how they are portrayed in movies, these guys are very gentle, peaceful animals. Chimpanzees are far more aggressive by nature than Gorillas.” I said. “Do you know that gorillas laugh?”
“They do?” he looked surprised.
“Yes,” I said, “I observed them in the rain for the first time the other day and they were chasing each other, lumbering in a bipedal position in what looked like avoiding getting their knuckles muddy, banging each other on the head and laughing. It was magical. I did some primatology research and they do indeed laugh. They also cry when they are sad.”

He suddenly looked sullen and glanced around cautiously.
Then, very quietly he turned to me, looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m the only one in Texas who believes in evolution.”
I paused in astonishment. I was so new to Texas. I took a minute to think.
“No, sir.” I finally said, “There are two.”



B'Wenzi and Shauna

B’Wenzi and Shauna

The buddies laughing and playing.

The buddies laughing and playing.

Wow, that was exhausting.

Wow, that was exhausting.

The Bitch From Hell

“She’s a bitch from hell,” my new neighbor said as she pointed to a house up the street the very first time I met her. I didn’t say anything because first of all, I was shocked but also I was clueless about the neighborhood politics and for all I knew the bitch from hell was standing right in front of me. “And, she has breast cancer which I think turned her world upside-down,” Dinah continued.

“Well, yeah,” I said, “maybe that’s why she’s a bitch from hell.”

“No!” she said, “She was like that before! And the guy in that house there,” she said, “is some kind of recluse. He’s an attorney and the only thing in his house is books. Tons of books and I’m pretty sure he’s gay. And those people next to your house recently got married and I’ve heard they scream and fight constantly and their dogs are a nightmare! Everyone including the mailman hate those dogs! The only reasonable one lives there but she’s a renter and you know how that goes; she’ll be gone before we know it!”

Dinah was so busy throwing the neighbors under the bus that she failed to notice her 70 pound dog Trevor, by way of greeting, was trying to hump my 100 pound dog Troy. I think that’s a way obnoxious male dogs attempt to establish dominance. Troy would have none of it and quickly set things straight. I was proud of him.

As it turns out, Dinah is not a bitch from hell; it’s just her personality to tell it like she sees it. I like her a lot. I see her often at the park walking Trevor while Troy and I play Frisbee and she always comes over for a little chat.

“Andrea,” she said one day, “what’s up with Troy?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Every time he sees Trevor he stiffens up and growls aggressively. It’s like he doesn’t like Trevor.”

“He doesn’t like Trevor, Dinah. During the neighbor blow by blow the first time I met you Trevor tried to hump Troy and it pissed him off and I don’t think he is ever going to get over it. We are just going to have to live with it.” I said. “By the way,” I continued, “did you notice the bitch from hell moved out and the renter is still here?”

“Yes,” she said, “thank god!”