In what is possibly a world record of sorts, there are three women on our street named Twila. Twila wasn't a common name back in the day and its even less so now. So while one Twila is rare, two is even more so, and three is about as common as identical triplets, conceived the good old fashioned way and delivered via natural birth. And this, as strange as it seems, multiple “Twila” causes problems when you are trying to carry on a conversation about one, two or all three of the “Twilas”, a word that even spell check rejects. So we have decided that Twila must be a name that is both singular and works for the plural as well.
Using last names also isn't of much good. Two of the Twila have the a common last name, and that common last name is one of the most common known to WASPs doesn't help. So what if they don't share the same vowel, the rest of the letters make impossible to confuse on for the other. So my husband and I have taken to assigning unique identifiers to each woman in front of their names so we can keep them apart.
One of the Twlia, a white haired grandmother who has given her life to Jesus, runs a babysitting service out of her house. Another Twila flies a helicopter for a local corporation. These two Twila are known as “Day Care Twila” and “Helicopter Twila” respectively.
The third Twila is a retired professional who is known to work in her yard for hours on end. Thin and wiry, she's out there in tank top and shorts 18 hours a day in the summer. So to call her “Retired Twila” is a bit of a misnomer because she is definitely not retiring, and is always buzzing about, a thin wisp of smoke from her unfiltered Luckies following her about her yard in a frantic dance from plant to plant, pest to pest. She is, however, hairy. Her head is crowned with a spectacular crop of frizzy yellowish-gray hair that would make anyone a dandy broom. The hair on her legs and underarms grows with as much energy and vibrancy as her garden. On the times that she has had one beer to many, and shed her tank top, an appalled “we” in the neighborhood, have also noticed that the dried brown nipples, adorning the withered husks of what were once full ripe breasts, also has a its own crop of straggly “raffia”, as the husband calls it. Once you've seen her topless, fighting with some of mother natures most cunning tap rooted weeds, its a hard image to delete from your mind. Thus the third Twila is known as “Hairy Twila”.
Hairy Twila drives an old VW bus that held together by bumper stickers. Being stuck behind her at the light at the end of our block, one is reminded to "Love Mother Earth" and "Consume Less" if the blue smoke from the minibus isn't too thick. Hairy Twilia is also, as she likes to put it, "a people person" who is the first to show up at a neighborhood gathering and the last to leave. Generous to a fault with home made food, she often brings too much "home grow goodness" to block parties and insists that we take home our fair share of her bounty. We are, however, suspicious of her cooking. Hairy Twila has a self composting toilet and we are unsure on what she does with what the toilet is supposed to compost. She also reminds people to "tinkle on your tomatos"; "they love it so." Therefore, as much as we love her, we are just plain scared to death to eat her food. To deal with this, another neighbor, in conjunction with her next door neighbor work as a team at block parties. While neighbor "A" occupies Twila on one her pet causes (Stop Feral Kittens from Becoming Feral Cats, Free Lapland), neighbor "B" swoops in and gets rid of the contents of the covered dish before Hairy Twila discovers what is going on.
Last month we were notified that someone had broken into Hairy Twila's house, again. This was the third break in, and as Day Care Twila said during one of our middle of the street confabs “You'd think she'd learn to lock her door when she leaves on one of her escapdes to save a web toed coot or protest Ohio grown celery.”
But in Hairy Twila's world, its still 1969. Trust begins within. "If I don't take the first step and trust you, how will you know to trust me?" Needless to say that we are happy to leave our plants to Twila, but the contents of our house while we are on vacation go to someone else, fearful that Twila would forget to lock things up, or as our former neighbor Sunny discovered, return home to find a group of Twila's squatter friends camping out in Sunny's house. But as we soon found out, the catalyst for rallying the Block Watch was that Hairy Twila had had enough of “ungrateful people” rummaging through her house.,” Thus, she had called a dreaded “Block Watch” meeting at her place, we were resigned to attend.
Hairy Twilia lives in a rambling house with many rooms, but none bigger than a thimble. She has no air conditioner, and she has no screens on her windows; all sorts of things fly into her house at all hours. Insects, birds and bats. "They're all mother nature's creations." So the idea of a night time Block Watch meeting with everyone packed like sardines, all hot and sweaty up against one and other wasn't fun. But if you've ever had a Block Watch, and you have a few take charge "Minutemen" wannabes on your street, you know - that from imagined curfews to paranoid nuts tapping phone lines - any manner of craziness can occur. You need sane people present to keep others from getting carried away.
So, to Hairy Twila's house we went, along with thirty or so neighbors, many of which are long timers on the street that I have known for the sixteen years I have owned the house. After avoiding snacks (“Homemade hummus, anyone? Anyone?”) the meeting began. Hairy Twilia had just adopted two elderly lap dogs from the shelter which she introduced as her “new home security system” and then handed the platform to a police liaison officer who got two words out before a grackle flew in the living room window right towards him, and out the dining room door to the garden. Speechless, and trying to regain composure, he said that maybe it would be best for Twila to speak.
As she started to recount her tale, the old pug and the old poodle that she had adopted plopped themselves on the floor next to where the husband and I sat. The pug, as bored with Hairy Twila's nasal rantings, rolled over onto his back and telepathically commanded my husband to scratch his belly. The poodle, seeing this did the same in front of me, and wriggled about until I caught the same hint. We were, as they say, trapped.
By this time, Hairy Twila was going full tilt and the ranting, combined with the wild gesturing which sent the tip of Lucky Strike to glowing red hot, had begun to alarm the police officer, who dogged the cigarette and the hand that carried it aloft and side to side with great abandon.
“We have to do something about this breakdown in the society that we have built amongst us...it would behoove us to watch each others backs...” Safety soon gave way to rant on universal health care, which was beginning to rile our Resident Republican, an aged man from Kentucky named Beverly. Beverly's face was about to turn purple when the police officer moved to get Hairy Twila back on track, and grabbed her arm before she set the drapes aflame or smacked him in the head.
“Oh, yes,” said she, regaining compsure. “My point is that the first time they got in they took my checkbook, my Bose stereo, and my sterling silver baby cup. The second time they got in, they took my new check book, my new Bose stereo, my eyeglass case, my laptop and my mother's wedding ring. If that wasn't bad enough, the last time they got in they took the keys to my car, my car, my new laptop, my three best pieces of Weller, my box of dildos and vibrators, my silver candlesticks....”
Hello? Dildos? Vibrators? A box in which she kept them? And art pottery, too?
I stopped scratching the poodle's stomach and looked at my husband, who was looking at me with the same look of stunned disbelief that I imagined myself as having as I looked at him. I looked up and to my right, into the eyes of Sweet Adorable Polly, Hairy Twilia's next door neighbor. Sweet Adorable Polly, the young wife of a freshly minted Methodist minister, didn't get that name from us for nothing. In her 30s and wholesome as a loaf of Wonder Bread, Sweet Adorable Polly decorates her world with pictures of LOL Cats, Holly Hobby ceramic dolls and counted cross stitch pieces of geese and “the houfe by the side of the road”. The public look of Sweet Adorable Polly's face was that of rapt positive good wishes, yet in her eyes was a type of pain and intellectual confusion about what those two sexually charged words had just been.
Our other neighbor, a convivial educator we called Just Call Me Helen looked at us with a twinkle in her eye, the muscles of her face straining not to crack a smile. And then there was Child Care Twila who shot all of us a look that silently said “Don't make me take you all outside. Now Quiet.”
This got me thinking. We all have something in our homes that are personal objects. I have my original teddy bear, my family photographs and other items that have belonged to my family members. What would I do if those items were taken? These items were of no value to anyone but me. A thief could take my flatware, break my crystal or throw my books around. They're just objects, although ones with more social respectability than Hairy Twila's box of personal effects.
But if someone would take this container with what was inside, were any of our personal treasurers really safe from an intruder? More importantly, if they knew what they were taking, whoever did this wasn't just any old thief, they were also a pervert. What kind of pervert takes another person's sex toys? And just what do you do with them? Would they use them? Ick! And it isn't like you can take them to a pawn shop and hock them.
Were there people out there that would fence these items and peddle them on dark street corners to unsuspecting tourists? I imagined a man with greasy hair, lurking in the shadows, wearing a trench coat, watches on one side of the lining, other jewelry on the other side “and this,” he says as he pulls out a case, “this is my special private stock...”
When the meeting was finally over and the consensus was to lock our doors and kept the porch lights on, a few of us gathered in the dark at the hedge and kibitzed about what was said at the meeting.
Sweet Adorable Polly was the first to break the silence. “I can't believe she said that word!”
“What word, sugar?” Republican Beverly asked fiddling with his hearing aid.
“That word,” she said before dropping her voice to the level of shame. “The 'D' word”.
“Dildo?” I asked. “Its in the Official Scrabble Dictionary.”
“It is?” said Polly, who was shocked. "Scrabble is such a good game." You would have thought that I had just told her how babies were made.
Sweet Adorable Polly bid us good night and then scurried home to find her Scarbble dictionary and tear the offending page from the book. “Well,” said Just Call Me Helen, “do you think she had any idea what she said?”
We agreed that she was so worked up that Hairy Twila had no idea that she had spilled the beans on her missing sex toys.
I wondered about the box. “Maybe they were in something that looked valuable, like a nice case. Like they put dueling pistols in.”
“Maybe it was a treasure chest,” the husband added with a laugh. “I just hope they don't turn up in the alley.”
Child Care Twila cleared her throat. “Well, if you ask me, that woman has bigger problems then the rest of us if she needs a whole box of those things to get the job done,” she huffed "Now I'm going home and suggest y'all do the same.”
In hindsight not much has changed in the past month or so since Hairy Twila was robbed. She hasn't trimmed her bushes to make the sight lines clearer. She doesn't lock her doors. And on occasion, much to annoyance of Sweet Adorable Polly, she goes bare breasted and in her romps through the yard.
The police haven't found the suspect in the burglary, and we wonder if they ever will. We also doubt that Crime Stoppers, the locally run tip line that is part of a local evening newscast will alert the good people of Columbus to “lock down your instruments of personal pleasure, a fetishist walks amongst us, and police are offering a reward for in the Case of Missing “Pleasure Chest”. Details at 11PM”
Whoever it was stole more than just her things, or her peace of mind, they stole her pleasure, as well.