Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Sometimes, a longing for vigilante justice

Wauwatosa, kids

When my sister and I were teenagers, someone kept peeping into our windows at night. We had a pretty good idea who it was. So did the police, but they never caught him in the act and couldn't do anything until they did.

My parents talked to his parents, who were indignant: their precious (though to the rest of us, creepy odd) son would never do such a thing.

So one night when the neighbors were engaging in the glorious summer night rituals of 1960s suburban culture -- cocktails at the neighbors' house while the kids played night games in the ravine -- Dad hatched a plot.

Armed with a bucket of bright colored oil-based paint, he settled in on the roof of our house to wait. It was a modern house with a flat roof, and he was comfortable enough. He had his pipe: not a lead one; the kind Fred McMurray dads smoked a lot back then.

Karen and I came in to get ready for bed. Since it was hot and not everyone had air conditioning back then, we slept on the screen porch.

Not long after lights out, we heard the rustling in the juniper bushes we'd come to dread. Then there was a soft noise, not quite a splash. Maybe a sploish. And a yell. And the culprit, well marked, exploded from the bushes and ran home.

The neighbors still denied their son's culpability. But he never came back, and we felt some satisfaction every time we saw the flecks of yellow paint in his hair.

Each time I read about a new act of cowardly vandalism in the Wauwatosa Cemetery, I think of this kid and my dad's response. Vandalizing a cemetery is easy pickings. It's dark. No cameras or living souls about to catch you in the act. And it takes little imagination  to push over a headstone.

But the screenplay writer within keeps imagining a group of dads and moms, dressed as ghosts and zombies, haunting the cemetery at night, armed with marking agents and very long lectures.

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Page Tools