When I lived down in Cornwall, we had similar friends upon whom we could call for anything and everything. In fact, I first met them because I got sent down to their flat to see if we could borrow a potato masher. This sort of thing is absolutely necessary in life and I believe it’s getting rarer and rarer.
When I go home to visit, there is a long list of homes into which I know I could just wander, without ringing the bell or phoning ahead, and have my needs met. I would be given a drink, a bowl of food, some chat, a seat on the couch, and if nobody happened to be home, I would be admonished only if I didn’t help myself to whatever it was I’d come looking for.
We grew up this way. The Mom’s best friend lived with her family just up the road from us. We knew where they key to the front door was in case of emergency (and by emergency I mean if no one was home and the garage door wasn’t open). We frequently called in to see their dog, or go pee on the way home from school, or just hang out. In high school, our friends would just turn up, let themselves in, go to the basement to jam, or settle into the couch with the bowl of potato chip ends The Mom was always furiously trying to get rid of. (As a family, we are incapable of eating the last eighth of a bag of chips).
There were always neighbours whose houses we could go into if we wanted, if we were looking for something or someone, and we knew that to ring the doorbell would be rude. Any kid who was around at dinnertime got fed whatever was on the menu and sometimes the relevant parents would be phoned just to be informed and sometimes not.
But in the neighbourhood where The Mom currently lives, and where we’ve lived for over twenty years, we didn’t really have those sorts of neighbours on hand. We were friendly with them, but we rang doorbells.
So since the new neighbours have turned up, it’s been a welcome change of pace. If, when I’m around over the summer break, I wake up from a nap and can’t find someone, I shuffle over to their house to see if the person – usually The Mom – I’m looking for is there.
Once, I even woke up from a nap to find her demanding my presences – and to bring more wine – whilst they watched the husband remove some kind of wicked tree stump.
Even in London, which is not a city known for that level of neighbourliness anymore, my old flatmate and I (once we were no longer flatmates) would routinely just rock up and demand to be let in to each other’s homes. There’d be a text about the boiler being broken, and we’re doing round for a shower. Or it’d be something like, I can’t cope with cooking, will be over for dinner which will be when please?
And even my old local corner shop guy would see his way clear to stand me a can of beer or box of tea if I didn’t have enough cash on me. Same with the local Vietnamese takeaway place – they wouldn’t quibble if I was a pound or two short, because they knew I’d be back.
Which takes me back to The Mom and her cinnamon situation. I couldn’t have been more pleased to hear that Crazy D went over to see what was in their freezer for dinner, especially since, and I say this from experience, it wouldn’t at all be out of character if The Mom left me to my own devices and, finding that she hadn’t left me any dinner, without the existential energy to make my own, I would present myself at their house, sit between their daughter and dog, and eat. In fact, I hardly think they’d notice.