I Shouldn’t Have Done It
I TRY TO BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR. I REALLY DO. I don’t complain when their dog howls at every passing siren, or when their son, who will never grow up to be a professional athlete, accidently tosses a ball over the fence into our yard.
The neighbors are younger than us so I try to not be the cliché “Grumpy Next Door Neighbor.” However, yesterday I shook the young father’s world a bit. I’m almost ashamed of myself.
When they moved into the house next door it had been vacant for a couple of years – so, they knew nothing of the previous residents (A nice couple even older than us).
Yesterday Daddy Neighbor was working on the lawn behind the house when I came out to make a quick trip to the Kroger. Being the epitome of the Good Neighbor, I stopped to chat.
I asked him the generic “How ya doin’?” noncommittal, innocuous question – not really expecting anything more than “Fine” for an answer. I didn’t think that his reply would turn into a confessional of his lawn care troubles.
Most of what he said was lost on me. I know less about lawn care than I do about Hockey, which is pretty much on the far side of nothing. As he went on about grass seed and soil nutrients I nodded as I inched my way toward the Toyota. The way he was going I was afraid that I was going to be there all night. I needed an escape plan.
After a couple of more minutes of his lecture about Nematodes and Nitrogen Levels he gave me an opening. He started griping about how every autumn the grass in the backyard begins to turn brown in one particular spot by his garage. This bothered the Luther Burbank in him.
I nodded in sympathy as he pointed out the patch of lawn that was already getting brown. Based on my previous observations my guess would have been that his two dogs were responsible for his backyard “Dead Zone.” I was afraid that if I told him my theory that we might be there until Springtime. I kept my mouth shut except for the occasional “tsk, tsk, tsk.”
He carried on.
“I tell you, John, I have no idea what could be causing that grass to die. Do you?”
My opening for escape had presented itself.
“Well, John, (His name too. What a coincidence!”) knowing what I do about your house and what happened, my guess would be that your brown spot there might be where they buried the bodies. I gotta run now. See you later.”
I was inside the car in seconds and he just stood there with his mouth open. He wasn’t there when I got back from the store.
I told my wife, the lovely and mind reading expert, Dawn, about my conversation with our neighbor, but before I got to my line about the why of the brown lawn, she interrupted.
“You didn’t give him that line about that being where the bodies were buried, did you?”
“Great, just great. I hope he didn’t believe you. Did he?”
“I dunno. Maybe. I didn’t stick around to find out,” I told her.
This all happened last night. I haven’t seen him since then. I haven’t seen the young son or even their dogs since then either. I think this will all blow over – as long as I don’t see him digging up his yard or adding barbed wire to the fence between our yards. I did see a moving van parked down the block this morning, but it’s gone now.
I was just trying to add a little levity to our conversation.