The park manager, Mrs. Belcher, was a really scary lady. She was big, tough, and a little bit twisted. She lived in the double-wide behind the park office with her quiet skinny husband and their thirty-five year old son, who served as minion in her trailer court kingdom. Rules were her religion. She observed them and enforced them with absolute devotion. Nobody liked her, except for maybe the landlord, who reaped the benefits of her tireless efforts from his vacation home in Florida.
She was harsh, persistent, unpleasant and effective. The mobile home park which had previously teemed with life from feral cats and unlicensed dogs became a totally pet-free zone. Gone were the pesky motorcycles and unsightly broken down vehicles. Everyone’s yard had lawn, and everyone had skirting around the bottom his trailer: Everyone except us.
I felt desperate, angry and trapped. I was scared of Mrs. Belcher, but Dan found her laughable. He said she looked like an English bulldog in a dress. He told me not to take her so seriously. He was right about the bulldog thing, of course, but I did not think he was very funny. When we were going together, I loved Dan’s sense of humor and his laid-back attitude. Now as his wife and the mother of his children, I found him infuriating.
I had gotten on the cleaning and de-cluttering bandwagon, but Dan had not. The day after Bulldog Belcher photographed my yard, I took action. I called a friend of ours who had a big pickup and had him back it over our pathetic brick planter, right up the shed door opening. He and I heaved Aunt Doll’s pink taffeta dresser, all the couponing and refunding junk, the spaghetti pan, the extra ratty towels and box after box of God-only-knows. I pulled up as many bricks from the planter as I could and tossed those in, too. I kept the box of ironing and the two-years-worth of Reader’s Digest because I knew that Dan would remember that they were there. When Dan came home from work that night, I had never seen him so angry. I challenged him to think of even one thing that I had thrown out. He could not.
I felt victorious, but I had begun a war which raged privately between my husband and I for decades afterward.