We don’t have a swimming pool. That’s not really a big deal, except when it’s 90+ degrees on a hot, muggy and sweltering Indiana summer day. I often can’t believe that I actually chose to live in Indiana, because I wasn’t born here. Some say I chose it because of the mountains and the ocean, but you don’t have to be good at geography to know that that’s a lie and those are a flight away, not in our backyard.
Indiana is flat land surrounded by flat land, but really good people. We could have had a pool except two big things altered that. The choice to send four kids to a private school vs public school and the bigger reason, ECO Parking Technologies. My business partners and I sacrificed much in order to form our company, requiring the practice of delayed gratification.
I’m not someone who begrudges others’ successes. I am thrilled for my neighbors who have been able to afford and care for their amenities. The sounds of little children yelling “Marco Polo” around their rectangular oasis makes me smile. Just like a baby crying on an airplane or a child screaming for candy at Kroger also makes me smile (except for a different reason: I don’t have to deal with that anymore). I adore children and holding a baby is like medicine to my soul. Not in a creepy hair-sniffing kind of way like some people. When I hear, “Marco Polo,” I am reminded of the innocence and simplicity of childhood.
Community is sorely missing these days. The pool next door to us is home to gaggles of little children. My daughter taught the neighbor kids to swim in their pool during private lessons. The new neighbors from the end of the cul-de-sac get to swim there with their three boys. One day, we gave Melanie, the mom, a golden ticket, the right to cut through our back yard for a more direct route to the “water park.” She was thrilled for the “Yard Pass” and has been using it ever since.
Two more little boys moved in this weekend, and Brad and Kelly on the opposite corner just told us that their little Cammie is getting a baby brother in October. I gave Brad and Kelly four of the Toledo Ticket rubber pool cups in the hope that we’ll get an invite to swim and enjoy a pina colada or other refreshing spirit. Hasn’t happened yet. Brad works from home, and my daughter and I dog sat for them while they were in San Diego one week. I wrote a subtle hint as an action item on the to do list on the white board in Brad’s office: “Invite the Pinyots to swim this summer.”
Walt and Sheila next door are also empty nesters. He has four Toledo Ticket rubber pool cups, too. Last summer he invited me over for a beer and a swim and the assurance of this being a regular event. I think those cups will be used this summer. We invited Walt over to watch a Colts game one evening. He said he had dinner plans already. Since we weren’t having a guest over for the game, we went shopping. I mean it wasn’t a Steelers game, so why watch?
While shopping, we got a live video through the Ring Doorbell of Walt on our front porch. Walt was staring into the camera wondering where we were. I said, “Walt, you said you were busy.” He said, “I was busy and now I’m not.” We gave him the garage door code and found him sitting with Sherlock the cat when we got home.
Our neighbor with the three boys was welcomed to the neighborhood by the trash guy dumping her trash in the street, including what looked like a month’s worth of dirty diapers. Walt and I manned up and went down the street with shovels to help Melanie clean it up. She came out without shoes on. I wouldn’t recommend that. She said that that would never have happened in her old neighborhood. We agreed, we said the old neighbor would have worn shoes.
Walt’s a great neighbor. The boys and I learned early on that if we delay shoveling the driveway a couple of hours after a winter storm, Walt will hit it with his snowblower before we get out. People ask if I own a snowblower, and I say, “No, I have a Walt.” He gets a nice bottle of wine delivered later in the day from me. We have a standing bet on the Steelers/Colts games; he doesn’t win very often.
Brad is our replacement Brad. Brad that used to live in his house died of pancreatic cancer a few years ago and a new Brad moved in. I wrote about the old Brad in a previous Marketing Minute. That was a special time, for sure. I think we, the Pinyots are pretty good neighbors. Ruth makes sure to see that all the neighbors get a treat at Christmas, including the neighbors that are harder to love. I am the one who delivers the goodies because I don’t know a stranger.
Brad and Kelly’s daughter Cammie calls our house, “Jeff’s house.” I made a believer of them recently when I heard that they were going to San Diego on vacation. I told them sunset at the Hotel Del Coronado was a must and dinner at Georges in La Jolla was the other must. “Nailed it,” they said, and texted me a picture.
At my son’s graduation ceremony at Purdue, one student spoke to the assembly about how lonely our world has become. Social networking has replaced the intimate and vulnerable relationships that were always part of our world. The days of Millie entering the side door of Laura Petrie’s house in The Dick Van Dyke Show are virtually over. Purdue University president, Mitch Daniels, spoke of the future of our world with artificial intelligence. He cautioned the graduates to never replace personal connectivity and community with an artificial community.
It seems like in times like these, we are told that it’s safer to keep your (social) distance and communicate electronically. I think, in reality, that’s the most dangerous thing we can do. God said after creating man that “It is good.” I think it was good! I heard of a new preacher who, in his first sermon at his new church, simply said, “Love on another,” then walked away from the lectern. The next week, he spoke the same three words. And again, the following week. Finally, one of the Elders approached him and asked when he will move on to a meatier message. The pastor said, once the congregation gets this message right, we will move on from there.
For now, it’s summertime and the season of Marco Polo begins. If I can only get my neighbors to quit mowing the yard when we have people over. Oh well, another First World problem.