My parents live on a street that is... how to explain this... it has almost the same name as another street in the same town. So, for example, imagine they live at 10 Evergreen Street and there is also a Evergreen Terrace in the same town.
So, for years, they have ocassionally gotten mail or deliveries for the family that lives at the same number on the similarly-named street (the family that lives at 10 Evergreen Terrace). My parents got to know the other couple pretty well. If they got regular mail for each other, they'd usually just give it back to the mail carrier to take back the next day. But once in a while, if a package or flowers, for example, were delivered, they'd end up calling each other to say, "I have a package here for you," and making arrangements to make an exchange.
I remember there being some talk years ago that one of the streets should change it's name, but it never happened.
Early last year, the couple from the corresponding address called to tell my parents that they had moved out of their house and that it was for sale. My parents hoped that this would mean less confusion, but in reality, it meant more.
Throughout the summer, my parents would find random people walking around their house checking it out. (As my father put it, "They were casing the joint.") It turns out that they were all people who had seen the listing for the other house and had come to check it out.
Last week, my mother told me, "Someone finally moved in to the other house. They speak French."
"Really? How do you know? Did you meet them?"
"No, but they got a package."
"Right, so, they still have the same phone number? You called them?"
"No, we don't have their phone number. It must be unlisted or something. Or maybe they just moved in and they didn't connect it yet."
"But then how do you know they speak French?"
"Well, the package was a video."
"Wait, you opened it?"
"Sure. We had to. We didn't know if anyone was living there."
"Um, that doesn't really make any sense. You opened it because you didn't know if anyone was living there? You could've given it to the mailman. You could've done 'return to sender.' And, besides, how does that show that they speak French? Was the name of the movie in French? Because, people watch foreign films, you know. What about subtitles? Maybe the movie has subtitles. What was the name of it? How do you even know it was French? You don't know any French."
"No, it wasn't really like it had a name or anything. It was just a blank tape, basically."
"Ok, I don't get it. How do you know they speak French?"
"Why else would a bunch of people record a video all in French and send it them?"
"YOU WATCHED THE VIDEO? OH MY GOD! YOU WATCHED THE VIDEO? You not only opened someone else's mail, YOU WATCHED THE VIDEO? I can't believe this! That's a federal offense! You watched their video?!? Mom, it could've been something, you know... (how the heck do I say this to my mother?) dirty!"
"It's not a crime, it was for national security," my mother told me very calmly and matter-of-factly. "We're supposed to be on alert for terrorists. For all you know, they could have been the recipients of the Osama bin Laden tapes. And if we hadn't watched it, no one would've ever known. I'd like to see the postal inspector come try to arrest me."
I guess she has a point. There are no laws when it comes to national security, right? But still... I can't believe she actually watched someone else's video!
"Blonde," she said, "It's not so bad. If the president has to do all this wiretapping for national security, it's the least I can do. Everyone has to do their part for our safety."