Posts Tagged ‘Ed Gein


10 Reasons to Love Weyauwega: the Neighbors

It must be said that among all the moves we have made, the welcome we’ve received from our new Weyauwega neighbors has been one of the warmest. That’s not to say we haven’t been greeted warmly in the past. It’s just that when you move as many times as we have, you’re bound to run across some folks whose attitudes and actions make you wonder if you’ve chosen the wrong place to live.

Case in point: The first public official to greet us when we moved to our last house was a member of the Oshkosh Police Department, who drew his gun, commanded the Jarhead to freeze, and subsequently handcuffed, detained, and interrogated him right in the middle of our own driveway (for more on that story, check out Mistaken Identities  posted 10/27/14.)  Compare that example with the actions of the first public official to greet us in Weyauwega, who walked over from his place two doors down, told us we had quite a project on our hands, handed me a business card that identified him as the mayor, and invited us to come over for a beer any time we like. Talk about neighborly.

“Well of course he’s going to be nice to you,” you might be thinking. “He’s just hoping you’ll vote for him in the next election.”

But it’s not just the mayor. Last winter, the guy who lives just across the street from us plowed our driveway after almost every snowfall without our having ever asked. We would show up at the property planning to clear the driveway before the contractors arrived and work commenced, only to find it already cleared and ready to go. It took some investigation to figure out who was doing us this tremendous favor, and when we finally discovered who it was, we were even more grateful because this guy and his wife not only have lives and jobs of their own, they also have a toddler with a rare form of cancer. Again, talk about neighborly. I mean above and beyond neighborly.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have neighbors like ours. I recall a former colleague of mine once telling me that when she moved into her home, one of the neighbors welcomed her not with a smile or a wave but with legal action demanding that she trim and/or remove a tree that had been growing on the property for years before she ever bought it. And what’s even more shocking is this: not long after our son and daughter-in-law bought their first home, their neighbors came into their yard and literally tore out a 20 foot-long retaining wall while the ink was still drying on the closing documents. So not cool. So NOT neighborly.

Now, some may assume we’ve been greeted so warmly because Weyauwega is a small town. But having lived in my share of small towns—and in case you haven’t—I can tell you they’re not always what they’re cracked up to be. One can hope the folks there are all sweet and sunny like the Mayberry-ians on The Andy Griffith Show, or crazy and charmingly kooky like the Cicely-ians from Northern Exposure.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Because for every calm, reasonable Andy Taylor there’s a paranoid pain in the ass Barney Fife, and for every philosophical piano-flinging Chris Stevens there’s at least one Ed Gein (for more on THAT guy, check out Turnabout and Fair Play posted 3/21/16.) Besides, to suggest that these folks are neighborly because they live in a small town implies that folks who live in larger towns and cities less neighborly, which simply is not true.

But our new neighbors are top notch, and one of the best reasons to love Weyauwega!


Turnabout and Fair Play

Several months ago I posted a series of essays that poked fun at some missteps taken by a few members of law enforcement. In case you missed it, the series highlighted situations involving drug enforcement officers mistaking okra bushes for pot plants; the failure of police in Alaska to locate and notify the correct parents of the death of their son; and the inability of the police in another state to know the difference between a red car and a tan one.

Although it was mostly well received, that series cost me a few readers and at least one friend.  Apparently some people don’t believe you can both SUPPORT the police and still expect them to know the difference between pot and okra.

That point of view would make a lot of relationships tricky, if you ask me. Imagine a world where you could EITHER ask your daughter to put her dirty dishes in the dishwasher instead of leaving them in the sink OR love her and let her continue to live with you, but not BOTH. Or picture a marriage wherein you could EITHER tell your spouse you’d like him to watch less television OR stay married but, again, not BOTH.

If you’re not married or don’t have children, then envision a workplace where your boss could EITHER provide you constructive criticism after you’ve made mistakes OR let you keep your job, but not both. Or imagine an arrangement where you can EITHER tell your landlord that the faucet leaks OR continue living in your apartment, but—again—not BOTH.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but imagine a world where you could EITHER disagree with an opinion expressed by your friend of twenty years OR continue to be their part of her life, but NOT both. Wow.

Perhaps I’m looking at it all wrong. Maybe instead of being unreasonable absolutists, these folks were just surprised to learn that police officers are human beings who make mistakes and, accordingly, did not appreciate having that fact pointed out to them. Or maybe they simply have low expectations for America’s public servants and prefer to have their mistakes ignored, overlooked, or swept under the rug rather than discussed openly and used to educate or entertain.

Imagine what the world would be like if we applied THAT sort of logic to all professions. Imagine, for example if we decided that doctors, judges, and principals are above reproach and then shielded them from the legal and social consequences of their actions. Same goes for professional athletes, actors, and other celebrities. And what about political and religious leaders?

I know. Now I’m just being ridiculous. Because you can’t equate athletes and entertainers to members of law enforcement. For one thing athletes and celebrities, by and large, have not been tasked with protecting the members of their communities from other members of their communities. Nor do the families of religious and political figures, with some notable exceptions (MLK, JFK, Gabrielle Giffords) normally have to worry that their loved ones will be killed or injured in the line of duty.

Then again, with some exceptions, religious and political leaders don’t have the power to detain and arrest you—or someone who looks like you or drives the same car you do. Nor do doctors, judges, principals and the like—again, with some exceptions—routinely strap on potentially deadly weapons before heading off to their place of employment each day.

While I respect and support the police (as stated repeatedly throughout the series) I don’t think it’s wise to give anyone carte blanche or zero oversight—especially anyone who carries a gun. We supervise and monitor the people who teach and care for our children, after all. And have standards and requirements for people who install plumbing, build bridges, and manage air traffic. So why shouldn’t the people who carry guns and have the authority to use physical force against us also be held to a certain standard?

Besides, I happen to think that members of law enforcement are—or at least SHOULD be—secure enough in themselves to acknowledge when one of their own makes a mistake, and to laugh and point fingers at the bad apples when the situation so warrants. And just as anyone who works for a living prefers coworkers who know their stuff and can be counted on to do their job over those who don’t or can’t, I’m pretty sure that the majority of cops would prefer to work with others who know what they’re doing and can be trusted not to get them in trouble or get them killed.

So if the police themselves have high expectations for their fellow officers, I don’t understand why it’s wrong for anyone else to do so—or to say so. If you count cops among your family and friends, I would think you would want the people they work with to be among the most skilled, trustworthy, and responsible individuals on earth. Moreover, I would expect you to be more offended by the fact that corrupt and incompetent people are allowed to wear a badge and carry a gun than you are at me for reporting it.

Maybe I’m just more forgiving than most people, but I wouldn’t eject someone from my life for writing something critical of members of a given field even if I happen to love or admire someone who happens to work in that field. For example, despite being married to a Marine and having two brothers, a father, and a father-in-law who are all veterans of the armed forces, I have never dumped anyone for being critical of the military or because of their views on war. Nor would I take it personally if someone wrote volumes questioning the skills and abilities of real estate agents even though my son happens to be a realtor.

Maybe I’m also thicker skinned than most people, but I wouldn’t even be annoyed at someone for criticizing or making fun of writers. Truth be told, you could write a scathing article about my very own writing and I wouldn’t object—and not just because I’m so needy and self-centered that I’m grateful for even the smallest scrap of attention or publicity.

In fact, to show how okay I am with the idea of making fun of writers, I’ll go one step further and offer up some examples of embarrassing errors committed by my fellow writers just to get the ball rolling.

Let’s start with the folks who work for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, a staffer from which opened an article last year with the following sentence:

“A dog on Wauwatosa’s west side has been killed by a coyote for the second time in three days.”

Yes. You read that correctly. According to WRITER Dan Daykin, one dog has been killed twice.

No wonder it’s being reported in the newspaper, you might be thinking. After all, the first ever recorded example of canine reincarnation is pretty big news. Forget that he was killed—twice—by a coyote on Wauwatosa’s west side. The real story is that he came back to life at some point before dying again two days later.

Of course, having read the headline above the story (“Second dog killed by coyote on Wauwatosa’s west side”) I was already aware of what had really happened, so my confusion is not real. I’m just pretending to be confused for comedic effect. Go ahead and laugh. I’m sure Mr. Daykin can take it.

Same goes for the author of this line from an article about Ed Gein that appeared in the Oshkosh Northwestern in January: “Gein, another of the countries most well-known murderers, was arrested for murder when the headless body of a hardware store owner was found hanging at his rural Plainfield home in 1957.”

I laughed because Ed Gein was not one of several COUNTRIES. In fact, Gein wasn’t a COUNTRY at all. He was, of course, one of the COUNTRY’S most well-known murderers who was, in fact, arrested for murder.

Now, stylistically, I would have said EITHER “well-known murderers” OR “arrested for murder” but not both. But the real issue here is whether the writer should have known the difference between a plural noun (countries) and a possessive one (country’s). I would say yes, but that does not mean that the writer of the article is an irredeemable idiot. And even if he or she is not as skilled at grammar as he or she should be, it doesn’t mean I have to cancel my subscription. Because I can both support my local paper AND hope it improves. Just as you can love your spouse or child AND still encourage them to adopt better habits.

And the same goes for readers of this column. You can both FOLLOW this column (and like, comment and share, if you so desire) and STILL disagree with me and make fun of my typos. In fact, I would consider it a FAVOR if you would drop me a note when I use MORNING instead of MOURNING as I did once last year—so I can go back and FIX the problem, and make this column BETTER.

But, if you’re not up to that, it’s cool. It’s not your job, after all, to make this space more informative or entertaining. So if you’re annoyed or offended by something I’ve posted here, say something if you like. Or keep it to yourself if you prefer. Just don’t think you have to leave.


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