Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A creepy musical mystery chills the heart of suburbia

In disaster movies, often you open your front door and a tsunami hits you in the face. Last weekend, something very similar happened to me, except drier. As I stepped out onto the porch I heard music. Horror movie music. The kind of music you hear when a guy is about to pop out of your roses with a machete. It was thin, reedy, electronic. Super creepy. It seemed to be coming from my neighbor's hedge. 

The tune...wait for it...was "Happy Birthday."

If you have ever seen a horror movie, you know better than to approach a hedge, so I took precautions. I set my phone on "video" and hit record. In the clip, the crunch of my neighbor's parched lawn under my feet is clearly audible, the drought a constant reminder of my own inevitable death.

My neighbor's car was parked in his driveway. Black. Not a good sign. I thought maybe he had left his phone in the car and his ringtone was on endless repeat, but what kind of jackmope uses "Happy Birthday" as a ringtone? 

No. As I got closer I could tell that my first impulse was right—the creepazoid tune was coming from inside the hedge!

I turned to my daughter, who is a college student and full of ideas. She was on her phone, googling "enchanted hedge cures," I hoped. No. Turns out she was just trying to capture Pokemon characters in the street, which is a thing you can do now with an app, apparently. 

I went around the hedge and trespassed on my other neighbor's lawn. Yes. Music. Up high in the hedge, loud. But why? How?

We decided to walk the dog and ponder some options. As I stood across the street watching my dog foul a third neighbor's dying lawn, the lady at the second house poked her head out her front door and looked incredulously at her hedge, then disappeared back inside. She just moved in. Paid a fortune too. Right about now she was thinking "That !!#%&$! realtor."

I came back with a stepladder and zoned in on the tune. After fondling foliage for a minute, I found the culprit—the little device that goes in singing birthday cards. No card. Just the circuit and batteries. Did a bird drop it there, or did some teenager think it would be funny to mess with our suburban chill? I will never know, but I did save it. Halloween is not that far away.

. . .