A nice little movie trailer showed up on my youtube recommendation lists the other day and I was intrigued. ‘A man called Otto’ starring one of my absolute favorites, Tom Hanks. Besides fervently praying that Amir Khan stays away from this, I was in glee. You see, Mr. PB told me about this book ‘A Man Called Ove’, a few days into dating and wanted me to read it. I had other stuff to do, books to read, movies to watch, and a man to impress. So after a few months of dating, and falling head over heels into him, I read it. And I was blown! Not just because the book is actually one of the best, it became my all-time favorite besides Harry Potter. Frederik Backman has firmly placed himself into ‘I will read everything he writes’ list. Beartown is also very up there for me. We watched the swedish movie soon after, and again, I found myself swooning.
Do you know why it was a character I got so close to? Because, and it sounds ridiculous, but I identify with it so much! I may be only 35(what now?!) but I identify 53. I have been one of those recluse kids, and what was Ove? A recluse. You know those pokey oldies that walk around the neighborhood, part of the Housing Association, asking you not to do one thing or the other? Yep, that’s Ove and me!
Allow me to explain how and why:
When I was in high school, I was already turning into a recluse spider, staying put at home, spending time reading, pissed off about not having friends, tired of trying to fit in, and you know, all those things that Taylor Swift’s first album is about. Our apartment complex was a cluster of many buildings, but for whatever reasons, the tween boys used to play cricket right next to our building on the street. This whole long street, but they stuck to our building. A 70 year old grandma kind auntie lived on the 4th floor who disliked that. And another 2nd floor grammy also used to be pretty livid about the boys consistently hitting her window panes with the ball, having already smashed the glass once. So, of course, being a young grammy myself, I took it upon myself to let the aunties know everytime the boys were back and bending rules. I was the rule keeper of the building, with absolutely nothing else to do, but safeguard the non-official building grammy by-laws. My initiation into Ove-ness had unknowingly begun.
It continued to grow as I grew, just like a parasite, but it was a symbiotic relationship. Rule-keeping kept me sane. In college, I threatened my friends that I would report them to the hostel warden if they practice Ouija board. Now that wasnt a rule per se, but I did not want any weird demons lose, I have seen enough horror movies, thank you very much. I gave every test for every driver license(no bribing), followed every procedure, and I was probably the only person who thoroughly read doctor’s notes and advices.
Yet, I didnt realize the extent of my Ove-nity as much as recently. Now after having a dog, I am one of those classic dog moms who watches around for rule-breakers. I keep my eye on non-leash wearing dogs, pawrents who are on the phone paying no heed to what the dog is doing(cough-Mr. PB-cough), using aversive tools(prongs, shock collars) and punishment(positive reinforcement training only!) and being jerks, and worst of all, not picking up the poo. I am the hall monitor, that obsessive parent you see in movies about cool moms, huffing and puffing. I was driving back from work a few months ago, and I was at the red light waiting to go straight. I saw a man, must be in his early 30s, walk 2 beautiful german shepherds. One of them pooped, the man was on his phone, checked his pockets, and kept walking! Oh, my horror! To my own utter disbelief, I found myself taking the right turn instead as the light went green, stopped by the man on the road, and asked him to pick his poo up. He told me that he did not have any bags on him, so I proceeded to offer him a large plastic bag in my car. He declined!! It was just getting worse. So I did what I do best. I made a loud passive-aggressive sigh, shook my head furiously and drove off. It was as if I was having an other body experience with what I was doing. This could have been an anomaly, but nope. I also asked another woman on the walk to pick up the poo ‘properly’ and legit thrusted a bag in her hands. But ah well, the dog had loosies and she was going to grab a paper towel from her apartment right there. I almost stood there making sure that she does that, but I did not want to look crazier even to myself and I left.
You know, I have figured out that we can report things to the City for parking violations, bad street lighting, deteriorating roads, etc. And do you know who has sent in multiple reports? This gal! I have gotten cars towed, roads fixed, traffic light repaired. Do I ask for an award? Nawww. But I will be gracious to accept one. A few weeks ago while crossing the street in my neighborhood, car ignored the pedestrian priority and zoomed past me. I would have let go normally as it wasnt too speedy, etc. But there! I dramatically tossed my hands up in the air! And as soon as I realized that it was too ‘Karen’ of me, I sheepishly jogged away. I wish I had more to tell about my ‘Nextdoor’ app shenanigans, but I will refrain now. Can’t toot my horn that much. But I will say that I am way more liked in the neighborhood than Mr. PB. He is the smug, non-smiling, non-hello saying dog walker with Airpods in his ears, and I am the waving, stopping to greet, talk about plants, letting the dogs play for a bit, happy person, how very non-Ove-sque in this regard. In truth, I am a grump, and Mr. PB is on phone meetings during morning dog walks, and generally caffeine craving, and he cant even see people when not wearing his glasses. But I will take it. Hah!
So, if you see me, make sure all your receipts are in place and you are behaving.