Stupidity Next Door

Most neighborhoods contain the presence of at least one stuper (short for a nonsensically stupid person). Thinking back to my own varying ‘hoods, I find that this type of neighbor usually lived right next door to me.

There was the quintessential snoop who excelled in peering between the blinds of his second story window so often, there was a permanent crease in one corner that he took for granted as being a clever bonus provided by the manufacturer. I caught him frequently spying on me while I gardened in my yard. Once, I became frightfully worried when the blinds were still and his repeatedly darting figure missing. I trudged over to his front door only to have his Mrs. inform me that he was at the dentist’s. He resumed his reconnaissance activity upon his return, forty minutes later.

Then there was that odd older couple who positioned enormous clay pots housing large palms in a horizontal line at the foot of their driveway. Somehow, between sunset and sunrise, these pots managed to change locations, creeping closer to the street or spreading out in a sort of waltz-like sequence all over the driveway. I never actually saw anyone playing musical pots, but I did hear the wife’s high-pitched cries periodically in the dead of night.

Most recently, there was Gertie, a woman of about 60 or so with an indeterminate accent; in the mornings, she sounded British; by mid-day, decidedly Austrian, and by nightfall, she spoke a strange mixture of English spattered with guttural noises and Mandarin Chinese.

Gertie lived alone next door, with a rotating menagerie of animals. Derby, her pug, excelled in trotting over to our front lawn every afternoon and leaving a malodorous offering, prompting my husband to reciprocate. No, he didn’t actually use her lawn as a personal repository; he just removed the pug’s contribution and returned it to the lawn of its rightful owner. Whenever Gertie saw my husband make the deposit, she just smiled vapidly and nodded.

Gertie managed to kill off her rabbits, chickens and sheep, the demise of which she blamed on the forces of nature. She set her bunnies free to roam. Stray dogs found them delightful, but delicate, playmates. After emancipation, her chickens made a fine feast for raccoons, and Gertie attributed the loss of her sheep to coyotes. Never mind that no one had seen coyotes in the area for years and that these particular coyotes’ bellies were so full, they didn’t so much as take a nibble. I won’t discuss the fact that Gertie habitually forgot to give her sheep water.

I decided to befriend Gertie. Why? Firstly, in the interest of science. She could provide ample research material for my stupidity studies, and secondly, in the interest of science (did I just say that?). I thought I could convince her to allow me to run a few experiments on her. I could douse her with a bucket of ice water to see if dormant brain cells could be stimulated. And I’d just read in The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion by Zhen Jiu Da Cheng, that “mental stupidity and dull-wittedness” may be alleviated if 76 needles are placed in precise areas around the skull. Now, I know many of you dear readers believe I make these things up. I don’t. I find that the truth is far more fantastical than anything I can possibly conjure about stupidity.

I went over to Gertie’s house and proceeded to engage in small talk. I can’t tell you what we discussed, as I really wasn’t listening. I bided my time so that I could request her cooperation in my science project. As she rattled on, it suddenly occurred to me that there might exist those stupers for which there is no hope. Perhaps no amount of dousing with ice water would help. Maybe poking the skull with needles would be futile. How would I recognize a case of hopeless stupidity?

Gertie was saying, “Yes, my corral has been empty since my sheep died. I think (Readers: please note that there is a red alert anytime a stuper uses the word think), I just may get a horse. I’ve never had one before.”

I snapped out of my reverie. “Yes, you did, a few years ago.”

Gertie regarded me, completely baffled and repeated, “I never had a horse.”

Okay, this is where I flip out, take the stuper by the shoulders and shake her for at least fifteen minutes, while keeping a close watch on her bobbing head, to see if I can get any brain activity at all. Or I just quietly slip away. I did the latter. I went home and opened my photo album. This is what I found:

The Horse

This is a picture I took of my lovely children playing with one of our goat kids, but what’s most important is what appears in the background. Isn’t that a horse on Gertie’s property posing for my snapshot? In fact, it was her horse.

I then realized that Gertie was a hopeless stuper. No amount of dousing or acupuncture could possibly revive her. Sometimes, there’s only so much a stupidity specialist can do.



11 Responses to “Stupidity Next Door”

  1. Roger says:

    I stumbled upon this blog today while looking for something completely unrelated, and have gotten some of the best laughs I have had for a while! I am amazed how dead on some of your stories are when I compare them to people I know! You have a new subscriber! Keep up the great posts!!

  2. Agnes Mildew says:

    Oh Keli, this made me chuckle! Old biddies and their pets. They are a minefield of stuper activity. A former neighbour of ours kept a dog who continually relieved itself on our front lawn. The dog’s name was Muffin, and it was a vicious little sod just like its owner. She refused to believe that Muffin was crapping on our lawn and determined it was foxes. No amount of arguing would convince her. So when I informed her that, if it was foxes, I would put out traps and poison, Muffin rapidly stopped coming over the fence.

    I was informed that, when Muffin snuffs it, there will be a large bed of daffodils planted in their front garden in her memory. Next spring, I may take a drive up to Yorkshire to see if there are any daffs in bloom at no. 2. If there are, I may take a crap on them, just for old time’s sake…

  3. M.C. says:

    I didn’t believe that a compendium of acupuncture really existed. Boy was I surprised to find there was such a thing by the author you named! Is stupidity really covered in there? Amazing!

  4. Keli says:

    Thank you very much for visiting!
    I don’t think there’s a person around without that same neighborhood mutt and biddie of an owner.
    Ah, the things we do for old time’s sake!
    Did I not say that? And yes – the quotes in my post are actually from the book – it does cover acupuncture as a possible cure for stupidity.

  5. Mary says:

    Keli – that’s not a horse. It’s a rather large, long-legged pig with a frayed tail. Any stuper knows that!

  6. Keli says:

    Silly me! And here I thought it was a horse the whole time!

  7. Jayne says:

    I’ve decided that based on the fact that everyone has a strange next-door neighbour, that the truth of the matter is that people are just strange.

    We get this idea (probably from watching Friends and Grey’s Anatomy) that real people are smart and sexy and if slightly kooky, it’s just part of their charm.

    Truth is, most people are seriously gooberish, and those people on TV are aliens.

  8. dawn says:

    Thanks for today’s chuckle! I think I may have to do some scientific research on my neighbor. My house is at the bottom of a hill… his at the top. He can see EVERYTHING for miles… I don’t stand a chance… he is the stuper on the hill with the all seeing eye and a scanner for listening in on my phone calls!
    Do you know where I can get 76 acupuncture needles???

  9. Julianne says:

    Any chance Gertie has early onset dementia? That might be the most logical scientific explanation for her stupidity.

    I nearly fell out of my chair when I read the part about your husband reciprocating the pug’s lawn littering.

  10. Elaine says:

    Oh Keli,

    Thanks for the belly laughs, though I must admit at some point thought is “she for real or making this up?” Your husband and mine have some things in common…the cars, clean, waxed and dent free. And now I can add depositing dog poo to it’s rightful owner 🙂

    Poor Gertie, really forgot her horse? Too many brain cells burned out.

  11. Keli says:

    You are right on!
    I always keep spare needles handy. Let me know and I will overnight them to you along with proper instructions.
    In the eight years or so that I lived next door to Gertie convinced me that she was just plain stupid!
    I almost thought that I imagined the horse. But the picture says it all.

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