Throughout history, there are specific brand names that have been used so often they become generic terms. Band-Aid, for example, is actually a brand name of a bandage, but it has been used so often in place of bandage that it has become an acceptable replacement. “Quick, someone get me a band-aid.” I wasn’t even autocorrected on the lack of capitalization on the brand. I knew it was real when I challenged the word in a Scrabble game, thinking it was a proper noun. It no longer is. I lost that game, yet I won the next three. I can’t hit a volleyball across the net, but I can occasionally win a Scrabble game ... and Monopoly.
Back to the topic at hand. Another term that has become generic in nature may not be familiar to a younger generation. In fact, I had to catch the reruns to be familiar with it myself. Not because I wasn’t in existence, but because I didn’t have a working television for much of my childhood. Actually, it worked, but it was hardly worth having to hold the “on” button down for the first 10-15 minutes of viewing before the monstrous immovable box would decide to form a picture. The term I am referring to is “Gladys Kravitz.”
Mrs. Kravitz was a character on the 1964 television sitcom “Bewitched.” She was the nosy neighbor who would peak through the curtains and report on the strange happenings occurring at the Stephens residence. Of course, Samantha Stephens was a witch, so Gladys had some valid concerns. Yet, when she yelled out to her husband, Abner, to report it, he wrote her off as somewhat loony. I think in psychology, that would be called “gaslighting,” but I digress.
Having a Gladys Kravitz in the neighborhood is not always a bad thing. When my kids were little, I lived next to one. There was rarely a day that went by when I didn’t get a report of some sort or another about the shenanigans my children were up to. While at times, I was the instigator of such shenanigans, there were other times where it may have saved their noggins. One such instance, my 6-year-old decided to take my 1-year-old for a fast ride down the street in a plastic Little Tikes shopping cart. I caught her just short of a tight turn where they surely would have taken a hard tumble. I warned her that next time she was to be sure to put a helmet on her sister’s tiny head.
In my last neighborhood, I was surrounded by neighbors on all sides of post-retirement age. I loved it. While none of them were even close to the level of Gladys in their curtain peaking, they were home most of the time to keep an eye on the neighborhood. In fact, when my trailer went missing in the middle of the day from in front of my home, I was able to knock on my neighbor’s door and ask her if she saw anything. “Oh yes, dear, I did. Two men came up in a brown truck and hooked it to the back and drove off. I assumed you were letting them borrow it to move.” She was correct. I bought that trailer for that specific purpose. However, this time, it was simply a couple of punk thugs that stole it. I was, however, able to get a description of the men, as well as the truck.
Last week, in an attempt to get to know the potential neighborhood in which my clients were interested in moving into, we did some door knocking. The lady with the cats, while a bit eccentric, seemed benign and helpful; the dude with the giant RV was friendly and accommodating; and the family with the pool, well, it’s always good to make friends with the people with a pool — that way, you don’t have to own one yourself.
Almost every neighborhood has a Gladys Kravitz. It is best to find out early who that is going to be and recognize the positive things she can bring to the table. If she claims she sees a toaster floating around the porch, give her some credit; she may be on to something.