My parents live in a very rural area of the south. Very. Rural. As a result, they have few neighbors. One of their neighbors is a man we'll call Ralph.
Ralph is the epitome of any redneck stereotype you've ever heard.
Homemade tattoos? Check. They're from prison too, so I suppose he gets double points for that.
Long scraggly hair? Check.
No shirt or shoes? Check. Sass called him The Naked Man for ages because -- hello, Ralph! -- you ought to wear a shirt!
Double wide trailer? Check.
Inappropriate flower pots? Check. Ralph has a toilet sitting on his front lawn with flowers planted in it. And he thinks it is gor-ge-ous. I should take a photo of that. He did that a couple of years ago, I think. His next door neighbor (not my mom) almost had a nervous breakdown over it. But there are all of 250 people in the whole town. It's not as if they have a homeowners association or anything. And my parents live in "rural [town]."
Aside: Imagine my shock when I went to vote the first time and the voter-checker-inner asked me if I lived in "urban [town]" or "rural [town]." My smart-assy 18-year-old self looked at her and said, "Have you looked around here? It's all rural." Apparently the definition of "rural" is whether you live on this side of the curve or the other. We're on the other side, so it's rural.
Anyway, back to Ralph. He is everything I listed and more, but I will say that he has been a good neighbor to my parents. He has helped them too many times to list, especially during my dad's severe health issues, and that is probably worth a toilet flower pot.
Ralph and his wife have taken to showing up at our family celebrations on occasion, and they were there for Easter. Our family is pretty big, so they just sort of mingle with the rest of the crowd. It's not out of the ordinary for non-family members to be there anyway, and we're a "the more the merrier" kind of bunch. It's not exactly a big deal to have two extra when you've already got 20 people, 3 dogs and a cat running around.
He often shows up at random times as well, like neighbors do. But now I'm thinking that Ralph might be getting a little too comfy around the house.
Ralph and his wife showed up around noon on Monday. My dad had just gotten back from the doctor. He has an upper respiratory infection, so he was feeling pretty crappy. Dad answered the door and Ralph said, "What have you got to eat for lunch?"
Oh yes he did. Ralph came right on in and asked for lunch.
Dad said, "I am sick, so I am going to sit right here in this chair, but there's the kitchen." So Ralph and wife went right on into the kitchen and made lunch for themselves, getting all of the leftovers out of the fridge and heating them in the microwave. They (Ralph and wife) had a nice little lunch, put everything away, and left.
When my mom told me the story today, I laughed so hard that I couldn't breathe and my children thought that I was bawling over bad news. It was that shocked and astonished sort of laugh that just gets bigger and bigger the more you think about it. We were both laughing so hard that we had to change the subject so that we could actually speak.
When I told the story to Skeeter later, he said, "It looks like they've got their own personal Kramer."
I think he might be right. That was reiterated when my mom told me that Ralph showed up later today and said, "That yard is gettin' kind of high. When are you gonna mow it?"
Call me on it if you want, but I think if you've got a toilet flower planter in your front yard, you can't really say much about anyone else's landscaping.