I love my neighborhood. We have a clubhouse that is divided into three rooms: An exercise room, where I go several mornings a week so that I can say “I already go to a gym,” whenever a Florida woman tells me I should join her gym and go to a boot camp exercise class. (For just four walls and a collection of chrome and rubber, the exercise room takes a big burden off of my shoulders, let me tell you.) A meeting room where no one ever goes except if you’re attending a homeowners’ association board meeting, which no one ever has done in the history of the room. And the mail room.
The mail room makes me feel old, because I didn’t think I’d live in a place where I’d have to go to a separate room down the street to pick up my mail. The mail room is giving me a taste of living in a retirement community, and it’s as weird as you imagine it’s going to be. I never see our mailman, because he puts mail in our boxes behind a wall. I hear him shuffling around back there, but it’s awkward to not say anything, but it would be even more awkward to speak to him. Not being able to see your own mailman makes you feel like you’re a little cog in a large wheel and not like a real homeowner at all.
In the mailroom there are two nice things: a book shelf where people donate their old books and you can look through and take whatever books you want, and a bulletin board where people in the neighborhood can post things. The bulletin board is like the wild, wild west of bulletin boards, though, because there are no rules and there is no sheriff to police it. You can put anything you want up there and no one is in charge of tearing it down if it’s inappropriate or in bad taste.
I suspected that there were some neighborhood do-gooders who took it upon themselves to remove things from the bulletin board that they didn’t want to see any more. Maybe because they had been up there too long or maybe because they didn’t want to look at the print-out of the big oak entertainment center that someone is trying to sell For A Good Price, or maybe because they think it’s up to them to remove anything tacky. I tested the theory by posting a flier for a group I volunteer for and the following day just happened to be the day the bulletin board was wiped clean. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
So I was thrilled when I saw this notice up on the bulletin board about a month ago:
Ashley, I don’t know who you are, but you are definitely the coolest 11-12-year-old in our neighborhood or possibly in any neighborhood ever. A defense club is by far the best idea for a summer project that I’ve seen yet. I imagine Ashley’s mother, on about the second day of summer vacation, told Ashley she should decide to do something with herself for the summer. Something that involves playing with others, building something, and getting the hell out of the house.
Not sure mom meant that she should teach other 11-12-year-olds how to make weapons, use those weapons, and more! but that right there is an 11-12-year-old entrepreneurial spirit.
I like that she is having try-outs and is limiting the club to only three people. Make people put a fire under it and join before they can think better of studying weapons training for the summer. It gives it that elite, Navy Seal, Green Beret vibe.
And I love the Good Luck! at the end. Ashley is like the guy on the tape in Mission Impossible. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to make weapons out of your dad’s lawn implements, whatever a $10 gift card to Office Depot can buy you, and that wrench that the plumber left under your bathroom sink.
Unfortunately, Ashley’s Defense Club flier was taken down by the neighborhood Tight Ass Club the day after it was posted.
I hope Ashley got some response, though. As I drive through the neighborhood, I’m on the lookout for 11-12-year-old girls sharpening shivs on the clubhouse green. Ashley, if you’re out there, I would hire you to build my website or design my backyard landscaping or housesit or walk my imaginary dog or whatever other tasks I might dream up. The more I think about you, the more I think you’re one badass 11-12-year-old girl who will one day take over the mailroom bulletin board and beyond. Our neighborhood needs more kids like you. And less like your male contemporaries who ding-dong-dash and run their skateboards in front of my car, those futureless D-bags. I will not be surprised at all if one day I’m reading about U.S. President-elect Ashley, who reminisces about the day she formed her first Defense Club.