Creepy ‘Locals’

M absolutely creepiest neighbor was a real nut-job in my neighborhood when I was young, and there is a really funny story stemming from him about my father, but the funny part involves food and I said I’d break from food stories here for a while.
Narrowing it down where I am now is a problem, so I will talk about how creepy nearly everyone acted when I moved here.
Moving here seemed like a good idea at the time; well, at first it didn’t and I really should listen to my first instincts, as I generally find them to be right! But suffice it to say that an old friend of my husband’s family made him an offer he couldn’t refuse…no, not that kind; MY family is Italian,(Mom’s side, anyway). But we had been told about this nice little town that others had visited and reported to us, (a nice place to visit?). The lady who called was going to put my husband’s considerable education, knowledge and experience back to work. He had left teaching and was working in a mundane job. The lady had grand plans and needed my husband. He’d be a big fish in a small, but fulfilling, pond. So we burned our bridges and turned our lives upside-down, and moved 1200+ miles away from family and friends to where we knew only the people who hired my husband…and I only knew them through numerous phone conversations. Oh, and by the way, they actually weren’t in the town we were moving to, or even in the same state, but they would be there soon, they said…(they went nowhere soon; the woman did not tell us because she did not want to believe it, but she was dying, so she left us high and dry; but I digress).
My husband came out first ; our sons and I stayed behind for several months. When I arrived, I got to know few people. It was a very small town and everyone knew everyone, or their people. Heck, they were related in one way or another, generations back. I found my foot in my mouth more than once because someone was related to someone who did something wrong that I complained about. The boss had actually asked some local people to work for her; most did not understand that concept. They were used to showing up when they wanted to, if at all, and the woman had been a demanding person,(more so of herself). There was a lot of bad blood and gossip, and everyone tried to pump me for information about the boss and the business, but I refused to take the bait, and people were often upset with me. But that was not the creepiest thing; the creepiest thing was that everyone knew nearly everything about me.

People I had never laid eyes on knew who I was, how old I was, where the husband worked, why we moved there, who my kids were, where we lived, how long we’d been married, where we moved from, etc., etc., etc…
Strangers would walk up to me while I was shopping and start talking like we had been in the middle of a conversation. They would tell me things about myself and ask me the most personal questions. I’d say, “And you are…?” They would be shocked, as, well, EVERYBODY knew who they were! Neighbors knew my life and I had to about choke them just to get their names; they weren’t ‘neighborly’ at all….only nosy.
I actually asked one where she got her information and she said that another neighbor, [G], was her sister-in-law. I opened my mouth but thought better of it; I was going to ask where [G] got her info, as I had hardly even met her, let alone emptied my soul to her.
I am, or was, not usually confrontational, but these people forced the issue.

I will never forget the one time I was in the grocery store and a woman I did not know walked up and said, “Your friend is here”. I asked what she was talking about. Why, [P.R.], the person you talk to after church, was the reply. Two other women, (neither of whom I had ever seen), joined in and agreed, telling me where the ‘friend’ was in the store. Yes, I had spoken with that particular woman a couple of times  because our husbands talked and our kids got along, (and she didn’t ask too many questions), but that people were making notes about with whom I conversed and who my friends might be was too much. I was taken totally by surprise. When I found my voice, I asked if they didn’t have other things to occupy themselves…apparently not.
Another time I ran into a woman that I ‘sort-of’ knew at WalMart, one whose direct questions about my life I had actually answered.(She seemed nice and by this time, I only had the kids to talk to). She was with a man and I asked if she would introduce me to him; I figured he was her husband…he was. In front of me, she then gave him my entire life story in 45 seconds. I mean it. The woman could talk really fast, (and not come up for air).

So now it’s been nearly 20 years and the people next door have been real dolls. Of the others, well,  the oldest people have died-off, the young have grown-up. The farms have been turned into housing developments, old homes have been restored and new people have made this their ‘bedroom community’ .There are many more restaurants and some shopping and (thank God) decent grocery stores. We even have a few ‘foreigners’. I grew up in Washington, DC and I’m more than fine with it. In fact, the more people, the more diversity, the more I like it…and the Locals can’t keep up with everything anymore. I am probably the only one who smiles when she’s on the roads here lately because we have something else that is new: TRAFFIC. It means that more people are here; fresh blood,(or “Brought-Ins”, as they call us.) I almost don’t even mind the new traffic lights.
[To paraphrase]: I love the smell of exhaust in the morning!
(Not really, but I couldn’t come up with an ending.)


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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5 Responses to Creepy ‘Locals’

  1. Stephy Smith says:

    I can relate to this story, except I grew up in a small town of 386 people. My parents knew everything we did before we got off the bus in the afternoon. Gossip is like a wildfire that can get out of control. The way I look at it now is… if they’re talking about me then they’re leaving everyone else alone. LOL


  2. jeff7salter says:

    None of my small town experiences were as suffocating as these seem to have been, Tonette. But when we moved to a town of barely 5000 people –for me to head up the parish [county] library system — we had some interesting experiences.
    For one thing, a LOT of those folks had never been anywhere except that area of Louisiana. A few had been to the largest LA cities and maybe to some nearby MS cities (like natchez, which wasn’t far away). But most had very little direct exposure to “other” places. By then, I’d lived in maybe a dozen states and visited some two dozen other states …
    Anyway I often found myself “talked about in third person” by two or more people while I was standing right there! It was unnerving at first, but I soon realized it was just their ‘way’.


  3. tonettejoyce says:

    Yeah,but Stephy, you knew THEM, too…Jeff can relate; it’s kind of ‘Twilight Zone-ish’ to have strangers know everything when you have never laid eyes on the people.
    Jeff, I understand. People here talk about how things are all over, when they have never been anywhere else.I was asked by those who were not in the gossip loop if I was from Michigan,(or they assumed I was sometimes and asked about Michigan, where I have never been in my life). It seems that one of the factories opened by bringing in people from a factory in Michigan, and that was the only non-Southern, non-Japanese accent they had ever heard…not that I sound at all like I am from Michigan, by the way.
    (Thanks for coming by, Jeff and Steph!)


  4. OOOh- this sounds like where my husband is from. Those people even know how much people’s mortgage payment is. It is VERY creepy.

    Glad you have some fresh blood around.


  5. Thanks,Jillian.Yep, that is here. Not enough Fresh Blood and hard to get to.Thanks God for the Internet!


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