Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Playing Gladys Kravitz

By Eilis Flynn

I have a home office that I sit in all day (try not to at night; paying attention to one’s spouse seems like a good thing to do when he comes home, right?), and it faces due south. If I didn’t have curtains and a lot of detritus in the window there, I’d be staring into the house next door. (I live in the city; there are only feet between domiciles.) But there are all sorts of things sitting on the window sill, so it’s cutting off my view.

There are other windows that don’t, however. That house next door has changed hands a few times since we moved in two decades and some ago. The kindly couple who lived there when we first moved in have been gone for a few years, and the house has been sold and flipped and foreclosed on and currently, after several months of intense renovation, is for sale again. (And unlike the previous owners who bought it with the intent of flipping it, this owner has done it right, with updates and painting and lots of landscaping and taking care of the egg stain on the front of the house and so forth. I’m hopeful. It’s a nice house.) Watching the renovations have been my entertainment for the past few months, and it also forces me to get up and snoop out the other windows that aren’t pointedly blocking my view. Depending on what kind of work I had at the moment, sometimes that was also my exercise. (I run my editing and writing business out of my house. It’s cozy.)

“I realized I’m Gladys Kravitz,” I told my husband when he came home one day. “At least I’m not seeing weird things happening when I look out and screeching about it.”

“But I feel like Abner,” he responded. And he did look exhausted.

For those of you not into 1960s sitcoms, there was a show called BEWITCHED starring an actress named Elizabeth Montgomery who played a witch who married a mortal and he forbade her to use her powers because, after all, she was a housewife. (This was the 1960s. Take it as you will.) She promised, but it didn’t work, and all sorts of magical things ensued anyway. The neighbors across the street, Gladys and Abner Kravitz, saw things they couldn’t explain, but when Abner did, he just assumed he was imagining things, while Gladys was pretty sure she wasn’t and got upset about it. In my case, I’d step out and find out what was happening. If I felt my house shake a little, I’d check to make sure my house was intact; sometimes it was a shock wave, sometimes the ladder actually bumped against my house. No harm, no foul. And I got a chance to see what was going on! (And of course I got a tour of the place.)

The guy who bought the place was around a lot, and we became cordial. He wasn’t a pain, and I wasn’t going to be (he was providing my free entertainment!). And because my backyard was hard to look at (as in “wince”), he offered to replace my fence that divided his backyard and mine—and made sure the fence blocked the view. Okay with me; that fence really was on its last legs. (The other three sides of the fence, however, are still our eyesore to take care of.) But the best part was when he hired a landscaper to do up the back and front—and they gussied up OUR front lawn. They mowed our lawn! Tore down dead things and cleared away things and put down mulch! Our front yard still doesn’t look great, but it still looks better. And then, they even washed off the roof of our back porch because it was visible from that house! I’m going to miss them when the place sells!

In return, when the Realtors forget to turn off the sprinklers and leave them on overnight, I go over and shut them off. It’s really the least we could do.

At no time have I seen unexplainable things. I’ve kept an eye on the place when it was empty, I’ve kept an eye out when it was being torn apart and put back together. Nope, nothing supernatural, nothing paranormal, nothing unexplainable. Unlike Gladys, I always hoped, just so I could use it in a book. I can always hope, right?

Eilis Flynn can be found to argue with at Facebook, Twitter, or at her website at If you’re looking for an editor, you can find her at as Elizabeth Flynn. Either way, you’ll find her online somewhere!


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