Growing up in my dad's house meant growing up on oldies music. There was a period over several years when I wonder if the car radio was ever tuned to anything but 98.7 KLUV out of Dallas. I can't even think about the station's callsign without hearing it sung as a jingle in my memory. As a result of this oldies education, sometimes a 50-year-old song pops into my head. Today, that song was "Suspicion" from 1964 (the Terry Stafford version with the ooing-awing background singers...not the Elvis version). The singer is tortured by the thought of his best girl's love wandering to someone else, even though he has no reason to think she's cheating. This suspicion keeps him from feeling close to her in what would otherwise be a great relationship. There's a great line in the chorus about suspicion itself, even beyond the song's romantic context: "Suspicion. Keeps us apart."
Yesterday I was the victim of my own suspicion. I was visiting the site of the new Friendship House on Orange Street to fix a sign that had come unhooked. When I pulled up, I noticed two cars parked in front of the House. The same cars were there the day before, so I figured they belonged to my new neighbors. But they have their own driveway on their side of the fence; there's no reason for them to be parked in front of our house. That's how my suspicions began.
While I was inside the house, another vehicle parked in the street, just behind my car. They stayed parked there for a minute while I watched from inside to see what they were up to. It looked like the driver was motioning toward the Friendship House. Eventually, the passengers got out and headed next door, and the driver left.
Despite my curiosity being still unsatisfied, I decided I needed to get back home. When I walked out, one of the recent arrivals had popped the hood of one of the two cars I had been so suspicious of at first. He didn't strike me as the friendly sort. I gave him a nod and said, "How's it going?"
For some reason I continued, "You live here?" I knew one side of the duplex had had a recent turn over in residents.
"No, I'm just friends with them. My car broke down here yesterday, and it's finally warm enough to get out and work on it a little."
I'm sure you figured out already that there was nothing suspicious coming next in the conversation. In fact, he was pleasant to talk to, and through the course of our discussion, he volunteered perfectly logical answers to my hidden suspicions. The other vehicle out front did belong to the current tenant, but he parked there because there's only one driveway for both sides of the duplex; he didn't want to block them in. And the driver I saw pointing at the house? That was his aunt looking at the sign I'd just fixed for a phone number to call to reach anyone who might help her understand how to raise her autistic son.
At this point, I felt ashamed. I had almost let suspicions based on situations I didn't completely understand divide me from another human being. I was wanting to watch them like some vigilante, waiting for them to do something I needed to "clean up" in the neighborhood.
I'm so glad I chose to start a conversation instead. So glad he could dispel the rumors I had fashioned in my mind. So glad I was able to tell him about neighbors right around the corner who know what it's like to have an autistic son.
Suspicion. Keeps us apart.