Musings of Self-righteous Journalist
Giving Thanks for My Neighbors
Downtowner Contributing Editor
This month, after 14 years and over 150 Downtowner
columns, I thought it might be about time to invite
our readers to my house for a cup of coffee and
Although located (just barely) in Virginia Beach,
the waters of Norfolks Lake Lawson lap into
our backyard. Just as the lake teems with a cornucopia
of fish, my neighborhood is stocked with diverse
personalities. Occupationally, the place is home
to doctors, lawyers, college professors, business
leaders, a self-righteous journalist . . . and Lewis
Lewis lives directly across the street from me.
To say he and his family are beloved (despite their
close ties to Virginia Tech) would be an understatement.
Everybody loves Lewismy neighbors, my wife,
his dog Wishboneeveryone except me. He is
a constant thorn in my side.
Lewis has a thing about inflatables. Every holiday
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween
he has an inflatable to celebrate the holiday .
. . and a customized sign designed to insult me.
At Halloween, he plants a Scary Gary
sign and a 10-foot tall black cat. At Christmas,
its a 30-foot tall snowman with the tag Little
And the list goes on and onHere Comes
Gary Cottontail, Uncle Gary Wants You
and the like. People come from miles around to view
his seasonal greetings, pat Big Lew on the back
and taunt me.
Next door, Doug Van Wyck and his lovely bride Shambry
reside. Shambrys just as sweet as she can
And everybody loves Doug (despite the fact hes
a Detroit Lions fan)my neighbors, my wife,
his dog Ottoeveryone except me. Personally
I think hes been spending too much time with
Word on the street is that Dougs planning
to join Lewis this Christmas in his own inflatable
taunt to this poor journalist. Is nothing sacred?
I heard whispers of the plot during a recent baby
shower for Shambry.
Doug, listen to your better angels, dont do
it! The road to hell is paved with good intentions
. . . and lined with ugly inflatables.
Shambrys baby shower was quite a shindig.
Just like Lewis, Doug knows how to throw a party.
He filled his canoe with ice, beer, wine coolers
and soft drinks. Navy SEALs manned the grill. At
last years Halloween party, Doug hired a shapely
bikini-clad bartender to serve drinks. At the shower,
he hosted a bean bag tournament with a $50 gift
card as top prize.
stayed for the burgers, beer and beanbag tosses.
After Lewis and Frank Stitch won the beanbag tournament
(on a questionable call) and it was time for the
opening of gifts, we all headed next door to Franks
sanctuary, or as he calls it his manctuary.
The room over his garage features a large screen
television, a 9-foot regulation pool table, an assortment
of pool cues, plenty of blue chalk and a well-stocked
Frank can shoot the lights out on a pool table.
If you have any brains, youll leave your wallet
We cued as the ladies wooed over the gifts next
door. Some of us better than others. That night
every pool hustler this side of Minnesota Fats was
up there. It was no secret where they misspent their
Although Shambry lassoed Doug before we made our
run, he did send his dad Jim Van Wyck (a pretty
fair country pool player and cool as the other side
of the pillow) just to make sure Frank had a little
bit of competition.
The first time Shambry turned her back; Doug was
pounding on Franks back door. We pretended
we couldnt hear his pleas for manctuary. Serves
him righthes a friend of Lewis.
Boys, never forget the pen (or in some cases, the
pin) is mightier than the inflatable. Happy Thanksgiving.