Over thirty years ago, my young son and I lived in an apartment complex where we enjoyed some colorful neighbors. I was among the minority of clothesline devotees, even if mine was one of those square spinning types designed for miniature yards. Too bad the only place for it was in front of my kitchen window.
One hot summer day there came a knock at my kitchen door. On answering it, the older man standing there surprised me just short of alarm. After all, I recognized him as the neighbor who parked an over-sized flashy red convertible in the primo slot just around the corner, but we’d never spoken. Despite his short stocky stature, he had an unmistakable alpha male swagger—the sort of man I went out of my way to avoid.
Thank goodness I kept my screen door locked, I thought, after his seemingly innocent opening question. Would I be using my clothesline that day, he wanted to know. Well-versed in the story of big bad wolves, I instantly took him as some pervert plotting to watch me bend over my clothes basket. Like an idiot, I didn't realize he was long past that point (as if my false sense of security at having a locked screen door weren't bad enough)! He went on to say how he loved the fresh scent of line-dried laundry, and that he wondered if he could use my clothesline once in awhile, that is, when I didn't need it.
Admittedly, his request seemed harmless enough; and after all, who didn’t like the scent of line-dried laundry? So I told him my clothesline would be free for him to use after lunch. Later that afternoon I peeked out to see if he had indeed hung any clothes. Wow, he sure had. One item.
It dangled there for the whole neighborhood to wonder about, too. It was such an enormous jock strap that its purpose defied imagination. I wanted to die. I bolted all of my doors and busied myself upstairs where I could keep an eye on things from a window.
What was he thinking? Or should I ask: How naïve was I? Did he figure his undergarment would induce me to tango right over to his place, carrying it in my teeth or something? Mercifully, by late afternoon it was gone, without so much as a word. Even more mercifully, we never crossed paths again and the only wash to ever hang on that clothesline was my own. I kept a close eye on his car after that too, and that’s when I noticed the odd jumble of letters on his vanity license plates: ITLN – STLN. I get it now: it was shorthand for Italian Stallion—quite a stretch, if you ask me.
Has anything like this ever happened to you?
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