Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 9 No. 2 | Summer 1987 (Portland) /// Issue 34 of 41 /// Master# 34 of 73

EXUALITY, THE NEIGHBOR By Bob Sawatzki Illustration by David C. Kane our lives bearing a large jar of creamy style Skippy Peanut Butter. It was an impromptu house-warming gift, as it was our first day in our little rented he Neighbor lady came into house. The Neighbor Lady had brought her husband with her. Everybody got introduced, then we sat down and The Neighbor Lady commenced, immediately and with ferocious zeal, to gossip about our other neighbors. She wanted to get to us first. In The Neighbor Lady’s head there was a war going on and everybody had to choose sides? Her egocentricity was almost childlike in its purity. For The Neighbor Lady, social relations were a form of moral combat. And granted that, how could we possibly come down on the side of creamy style Skippy Peanut Butter? On the other hand, one aspect of The Neighbor Lady was fatally attractive. She had kids. Kids were what had brought us to Ogden, Utah—there being a marked dearth of kids in the University district in Salt Lake City. We had one child, Pieter Thor, age 1Vs, and my wife Suzanne was pregnant and expecting in the spring. We had actively sought out a neighborhood which catered to children and had struck the jackpot. The Neighbor Lady herself had five children and was also expecting in the spring. So we set about the business of being good neighbors. Suzanne went off to her job as Children’s Librarian at the public library while The Neighbor Lady’s husband was driving a truck for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ thrift store. The Neighbor Lady operated a small business out of her home, merchandising toys. And when I got a chance, I wrote. I’m a writer. The big kids were in school but their youngest daughter was only three years old and was glad to have Pieter to play with. Everybody in their family was small but this girl was an actual dwarf. And a great human being. Call her Bitsy—a kid with exceptional gyroscopic stability. One of the neat things Bitsy could do was stand on her two feet and bend over and rest a portion of her weight on her head. Like a human tripod. She would stay in that position with both hands free to play with whatever happened to be the toy of the moment. Pieter was as tall as Bitsy but she was infinitely stronger. She cou ldn ’ t be pushed over or pushed around. All this playground prowess 30 Clinton St. Quarterly—Summer, 1987