Mobile Home Community Christmas Party

LANTANA, FL — I always wished I could live in the kind of little English village where that Agatha Christie mysteries and Jane Austen romances unravelled. I envied people who lived communally enough with their neighbors to guess at their secrets, but not enough to know them. That is at least part of what drew me to life in a mobile home community, where we live close enough to critique each others cars, gardens, habits, supposed vices, but autonomously enough to avoid being personally affected by them.

The distinction between a Mobile Home Community and a Trailer Park is important to understand, in order to understand the rest of this. Not that there is anything wrong with trailer parks — aside from homes filled with the unhealthy combination of alcohol, ammo and disappointed dreams as well as dwellings that fall to pieces in hurricanes. Maybe those are stereotypes anyway. The great difference is that a Trailer Park usually is a transient place, and a Mobile Home Community tends more to be transient only in the sense that “God’s Little Waiting Room” might be considered a transient place.

Many of the people left in our Mobile Home Community are here because their parents were. The homes, while mobile, last longer than the people, and the land keeps us here because we own it. There is the difference, which sounds like it boils down to one of social class, but it isn’t. It’s one of lifestyle. It doesn’t cost much to stay or leave here, but we bought into it and so we stay. And for me, that makes it like a little English village, where you know just enough about each other to stay entertained, and just little enough to wonder about things.

The annual Christmas party my neighbor throws gives us a chance to appreciate that. My two newly widowed neighbors were there; one described her husband’s final hours to me, the other was too busy celebrating the holiday. Both were doting wives with long sick husbands.

My dithery across the street neighbor who, possibly has never completed a sentence in the dozen years I’ve known her, mentioned her late son, as she sometimes, but seldom does. The tragedy of losing an offspring, her only offspring, that thing that is considered the saddest and most unfair of losses, happened years before I met her. I asked how he died. She dithered. Pneumonia, she said, ah, ah, it might have been AIDS, I don’t know. Then she told me again how much she is looking forward to reading a story I’m working on, which happens to be about AIDS, and for the first time I believed her.

The subject of crime on the street came up with the man who lives nearest the entrance of the community. It hadn’t been bad, he said, since the guy in the first mobile home left. That guy, a former airline pilot and chronic drunk who had a car bedecked with bumper stickers that would have made Ron Paul blush (well probably not, as it turns out) made all his friends at the corner bar, a place with no windows and one of those silhouettes of a perky-breasted long-haired female figure over the door called Duke’s Lounge. His social habits and proximity to the front of the street did tend to make our Mobile Home Community look like a Trailer Park, a resemblance that was intensifed when Hurricane Wilma turned his home into a pile of scrap metal, and he and his friends who he had offered shelter from the storm continued to drink among the ruins. The destruction of his home caught the attention of the man’s daughter who collected him and put him in a nursing home. This happened six years ago, but my neighbor was mentioning it now, in the conntext of the caches of ammunition he had found among the remains of the man’s castle.

Which did make our quiet Mobile Home Community sound a lot like a Trailer Park, but also reminded me of how one miscreant could threaten the security of a cozy English village in an Agatha Christie mystery or a Jane Austen romance.


There are no comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: