THE YOUNG & THE RELENTLESS

There’s a comedian in every classroom. I suppose that’s where my boyfriend began his crafty and celebrated skill as a comic, making his mark as the class clown throughout high school. I only wish I’d been a fly on the walls to hear all the rascality, and done some crazier things myself. Born a worrier, not a warrior, I was far too afraid of being shoved off to boarding school for misconduct, or entrusted to the care of strict disciplinarians in some foreign nunnery. So I chortle abundantly at my suitors never regrettable stories.

There’s nothing like a three week teacher sabbatical to bring out the beast in buddies. He and his inseparable accomplice were handicapped…with diseases of disruptiveness, dodgy attitudes, report card altering, and hall pass-ititus, curable only with graduation. Or expulsion, whichever came first. Both mischief makers were caught cheating and the teacher told one of the culprits, “Gee, your answers look exactly alike. Must be ESP. See your pal’s paper for comments.”

Forced to have separate desks, their speech instructor went out on leave and was replaced with an elderly substitute teacher, so the hellions immediately switched seats so they could sit together. On the instructors first day, she asked the students to write an outline for a speech. My funny guy filled the page in with Japanese symbols. The teacher noticed the paper asking, “What is this?” His chum replied, “My friend here is a foreign exchange student from Japan and I’m his interpreter!” Both boys started babbling in what sounded like east Asian dialect, which was nothing but a bunch of meaningless nonsense. The all American look of the kid didn’t even sway the gullible woman. She replied, “Oh how wonderful. Tell him welcome to our country!” It prompted stereophonic shrills of laugher from other students which still didn’t phase the teacher. The silliness went on for three days before the long suffering principal got wind of it and pegged the boyish blunders. “That wasn’t Walton and Gonzales was it??”

My loverboy has since lived a successful life despite his sidetracking and wisecracking. Now he gets a hundred percent approval rating. Or at least from young waiters and waitresses, since he doesn’t leave the usual 15-20% percent tip. He practically funds their college tuitions. And for every joke they tell him, he’ll up it ten bucks. He figures those kids work hard…. something he wasn’t familiar with after spending most of his time goofing off. He must have missed English class an awful lot because the smarty pants sometimes ends a sentence with a proposition. He loves it when I write about him. I’m not doing anything different than any other fond and fun loving girlfriend wouldn’t do.

This all prompted me to remember my own class clowns back in Michigan. My biology teacher screamed at one kid for letting all the frogs loose in the teacher’s lounge, and for pouring chocolate milk into one chubby gals white go-go boots. Which was worrisome when I owned white go-go boots as well. I had a date once who drove me through a car wash and devilishly decided to roll down the windows on my side of the vehicle. One thing I’ve realized about stinkers. They don’t have a whole lot of friends, so they’ll do anything for attention. Another hooligan wasn’t exactly part of the proper Cleaver clan. In fact he was more Eddie Haskell-ish and one hellava self barberer. He came to school with his head shaved in polka dots. Quite often he spent the night in the basement of his friends house and they’d sneak out. They came home blitzed, thanks to the bevy of available booze at a local party. Drinks at midnight don’t sound that unreasonable unless they are served two at a time, in gigantic tumblers, with a generous mixture of alcohol. One of them barfed while climbing back into the basement window, leaving lovely remnants of egg shells. His friend couldn’t understand why he saw such a thing among the slop. Little did they know the prankster party host laid out unpeeled hard boiled eggs purposely to see if anyone would be sober enough to de-shell them before eating.

One classmate of mine had a consistent stern grip around his upper arm from our principal since he skipped school so often. Our foreign language teacher told him that appearances were important. In order to affirm her verbal accuracy, he showed up to class fluttering around in a French maid outfit. And he always had excuses for not doing his homework. He told our educator, “I’m not procrastinating, I am assertively delaying the period of any assignment until my enthusiasm has pinnacled.” With that answer, I thought for sure he’d become the future president, or at least a word scholar. He got suspended for skipping school, and sarcasm.

My association with clowns hasn’t changed much. Especially since earth can be a multi-ring circus. And if I remember anything else about school, it was always dang cold outside. I couldn’t figure out why my dad wouldn’t move his family to the warmth of Hollywood so I could pursue a career in anything stage related. Mom said it was because they were short stock brokers in Michigan and that if I knew anything about industrial averaging, I too could become a financial analyst. Except I figured my brain would work a whole lot better given a warmer geographical location. Which influenced me to make my own move to California. As it turned out, I started my clowning around much later in life with this quirky style of expressing myself. At least here I know the difference between sub zero and zero funds in a money market. And that you gotta laugh at life and the cost of living. I may be older, but I’m trying to stay young, resourceful, playful, and relentless. I’ve tried calling that clown Betty White three times this month.

(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

ADVISE & CONSENT

I try to adopt all the practical advice that everyone doles out. Never mind the semantic reasoning behind health care plans and global warming. If only paper boys delivered barf bags with the newspaper. And considering the wonderful advice that Satan gave Eve in the garden makes me not want to go near an apple. Yet someone was right. An apple a day does keep the doctor away. Unless the doctor is adorable.

I learned not to take parental advice from childless people. But zookeepers sure are funny advisors. “Don’t climb on fences. If you fall, an animal could eat you and it might make them really sick.” My advice for anyone that’s about to jump from fencing or a high rise, they’d better make their arms flap faster. All that man advice went unheeded. I just wanted to find someone who likes the same room temperature that I like. I should probably pay more attention to the advice regarding my stupendous sucrose intake. My doctor strongly suggested certain relief measures for sweetening, along with insomnia and constipation. Except I will never again crush and mix a banana with a sleep aid, and a laxative, and eat it all at the same time.

Recently I bought a shirt from a trendy store. It’s easy to love and hate the Swedish fashion chain with their stylish pieces and drooling prices. But I always look at the label for their advice on washing instructions. It’s hard to translate clothing care labels written in code, and thirteen different languages. My temporal lobes just can’t decipher this gibberish. I’d like to personally thank mister senior merchandiser in Stockholm for the demise of my newly purchased pants. Although it’s better to have loved and lost than never really have had it in the first place.

I’m label dependent, so how my clothes turn out vastly relies on the complexity of laundering. But this attention to detail has had me snickering on several other occasions. One label read, “Do not bleach. Do not dry clean. And do not wear for sumo wrestling.” Another said, “Wash warm with like colors, tumble dry low, or give it to your woman. She knows how to do it.” One humorist labeled, “For not so good results, drag behind car or blow dry on roof rack.” I’m surprised clothing creators don’t include disclosures such as, “Any damage done is the sole responsibility of wearer, who is probably incompetent and completely careless.” And how about those mattress labels that are so straightforward. “Do not remove under penalty of law.” As if mattress police is really going to come over to assess the damage. I can hear it now. “I love what you’ve done to the place, but you are in severe violation of tampering with bedding material.” I want to ask who is really in violation when fifty horses have gone hairless to fill the thing.

My mother supplied me with more advice than I ever wanted when I was young. Which usually failed miserably, and came back to haunt me once I had children of my own. I did listen to her, most of the time. She advised me many times to clean my room, then would show up periodically to inspect it. Although to buy myself some time, I wanted her to come back with a warrant. Despite her curatorial directives, I only let her in if she had something covered in cream cheese frosting. One day I walked into the kitchen and saw her crying. I thought she was upset that I disregarded the advice she had given me earlier that day. That is until I saw her chopping onions. I want to take a second to thank her for not leaving me on a roadside somewhere, or let me wipe my eyes while handling shallots and a parry knife.

I always pass on good guidance when it’s no longer useful to myself. My daughters sometimes accept my advice. I wait then watch everything I’ve predicted happen. Maybe they’ll treasure my input once I’m long gone. Because I won’t still be imposing once I’m dead and decomposing. Every year I advised them to be good, and that they should keep the month of December open. Because there was going to be a preliminary hearing before any possibility of a sleigh landing. Turned out that December first thru the third there was no scowling from them whatsoever.

My comprehension crashes after dinner so I’m not a nighttime talker. I advised my friends not to call me after seven, unless they like to hear mumbling. They usually abide by my wishes, but they also know they can ring me in the event of any emergency. However this was not an emergency. One friend called to tell me something and I faintly remembered the conversation. I called her the next day asking, “Was that you calling?” She said, “No. It was Captain Morgan.” And she wonders why I keep returning that consideration after slugging screwdrivers.

Dorothy Carnegie wrote the wise words, “Sharing anything, be it a crust of bread or an idea, is one of the main highways to happiness in human relations.” Of course that was the same woman that wrote the 1955 guide on how to be a good wife. She said, “Don’t complain if you’ve slaved getting dinner ready and your hubby decides to stay out all night.” Which just might work if the woman is wearing a burka. Today, a woman would say, “Don’t mess with me. I’ve learned karate, aikido, chokehold, get your own dinner, and about twenty other forceful words.”

The most valuable advice I’ve heard is to never get caught doing criminal activity. Because if I’m being pursued on foot, police dogs are pretty much trained for pinpointing people. And sharp canine teeth can sometimes penetrate the skin and leave severe scarring.

(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

DEJA BLUE

The older I get, the more funerals I attend. Like the recent memorial. It was probably the most captivating requiem I have ever witnessed, if you can say that about solemnities. Especially when the one being lamented can’t be there to share in the fun. I was rocked by the rumor that McCartney was dead. Paul is the only person I know who has come back from the grave. The world will be experiencing his Yesterday long after he’s gone.

No funeral is complete without some entrusted spokespersons from the comedy circuit drumming up stories, including the priest. The bluesy atmosphere of the mortuary turned comical when tales emerged from loved ones. It’s always interesting going to a cry-athon yet not shedding a tear when you never even knew the person that has passed. But by the time I left, he was like the uncle I never had. I only went because it was my boyfriends ex-wife’s third husband. And he went because it was his ex-wife’s third husband and his son’s stepdad. These things can get mighty complicated. It was probably best that the wife had passed a year earlier or there may not have been an unbiased welcoming committee and could have likely turned into a much grimmer scene.

It was made known that the dearly departed had much love for pizza and beer. Whenever he had gone missing, he was most likely found in a drinking establishment claiming that he was replenishing his electrolytes. Being a bank president, he would sometimes keep the employees after hours for meetings and reward them with pizza and ales. The gal who told that story said she was underage at that time. After her eulogy, the priest said, “I’m not sure if this man is going to heaven or hell! In any case, this all makes me want pizza. Now all of you go out and replenish your electrolytes!”

And everyone did. There were plenty of people spicing up this otherwise morbid gathering which was held on a sun saturated, hellishly hot hotel rooftop. A heavenly place overlooking the ocean, although a fired up furnace. Pizza was ordered, and there was enough beer and booze available to destabilize every southern Californian. Sometimes I wonder about wakes when everyone gets so drunk that there’s a good possibility of not making it home safely, which could lead to another burial. I’m considering pre-planning my death party in a distillery parking lot lined with taxi cabs.

Luckily my boyfriend and I were able to run to his house and change first, ridding ourselves of black attire to avoid extra radiation exposure. We heard from other mourners, “I’m so jealous that you changed cause I’m sitting here suffocating and have enough sweat between my legs to drown a cat!” In this case of crowd control, no one wants their own odorant molecules released into the atmosphere. And what a coinkydink that we heard the song Stayin’ Alive bellowing from a car radio on the street. We baked while waiting for the also baked crusty dough rounds topped with sauce and cheese. I was dying of sustenance, and I know my boyfriend was dying of thirst. So we placed our funeral phobic nerves in the hands of the bartender. Only I was jonesing for a gallon of water, with a martini chaser. It didn’t matter what kind. Pomegranate. Peach. Dog saliva with gin. I mean after all, everyone knows that saliva contains many compounds that promote healing. That’s why we see pets licking their wounds.

You would have thought we were in a meat market. And I’m not talking steaks. There was more hitting on people than reminiscing. I sat on the patio couch with my boyfriend positioned behind me, engrossing myself in conversation with a friend of the family. At one point my main squeeze got up without me feeling the movement. The next thing I know a hand reaches around my waist and pulls me into his. I totally fell for it thinking it was my sprightly guy. I turned to the stranger who said, “I’ve got you now.” Who does that at a wake? Maybe he thought I was someone from his past. The color cleared from my face and it brought back a brief glimpse of being held on Santa’s lap, but seemed more like I was part of The Big Chill support group. Or in a sleazy bar with Don Juan. Then another guy made a pass at the gal next to me. Was this a popular new trend with Men in Black? What can I say about tigers. Terrific eyes. Strong paws. Attack tendencies. Might settle down with a few lethal shots from a tranquilizer gun, or a little jump off the rooftop coercion.

Beer was proof that God wanted my boyfriend to be happy that day, because I drove home. Also because he drank more during his stay since we were there a lot longer than usual mingling with mourners he hadn’t seen in awhile. My frisky guy grabbed me saying, “Give me a kiss.” He laid one on me and exclaimed, “That’s the first time I’ve ever kissed my driver.” I asked, “Didn’t your ex ever drive you anywhere?” He replied, “Yes. She drove me nuts.”

I’m reeling from another burial. And the rumor that I’m single. Which I am. And available. Which I’m not. In the event of future deja bluish moments, I’m prepared to give aptitude tests due to the rise in alcoholism. It will be a quick quiz. 1. Name the deceased. 2. How many seconds are there if the hands of the clock spins around eighteen times?

This sort of diversion could stall anyone frequenting funerals who is looking for a hanky panky playmate.

(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

FAUX PAS

Ivan the Terrible probably started everything. History presents disparate accounts of his episodic outbreaks, however a devout leader widely popular among commoners. Then there’s me. Widely popular among squirrels, since I feed them daily. They have yet to witness my outbreaks. But they don’t antagonize me.

Every day I wake up and never know whether I’m going to be treated like royalty or like a San Quentin prisoner. And every day I want to learn to play the piano. It would help if I had a piano. It’s a complex, not enough instrumentals world. Sometimes I view it as a baseball game with swings more often than hits. But at least there’s organ music officiating.

Seems like I’ve been a front runner for crimes and punishments. When my business partner and I had a wall design career, we had years of joyous jobs working in a field that was rewarding for us and most customers. We got quite proficient in faux painting, doing everything from turning rooms into Tuscan villas, to painting animals in nurseries. Which included those re-do jobs when a client had to call back saying, “My baby can’t sleep at night since you painted dinosaurs!” Another call back came regarding the fauxed bricks that didn’t hold up to kitchen traffic. Or more specifically, the cast iron skillet that was heaved during an argument.

We only had one client who exhibited some awfully blankety-blank behavior. Emphasis on awful. Her visiting mother described how her daughter is never happy. We were called to do painting in the dining room, a technique with glazing that had to be applied a certain way. We had done this many times over, though she challenged our artistry. She finally agreed on our method then left us with her mother. Our radio supplied us with inspirational funky music, and we whistled while we worked. Nearing completion, my teammate had to leave early to pick up her son. I told her I would wrap things up. The queen bee came home with nary a peep of appreciativeness. You would have thought we had finger painted swastikas. The pestilent wrecking ball announced, “That’s not what I wanted! You need to come back and redo this tomorrow!” I doubt her future dinner guests were going to gag on meals when their eyes wandered to the walls.

I wanted to be sympathetic. That is until the snarling resumed. Her mother revealed a thicker veneer of compassion when she whispered, “I love it.” A payment check was handed to me along with orders for our return. If this had been anyone else, we would have bent over backwards to make it right. But we didn’t compromise with the irate. I sped out the door faster than a twin turbo jet and called my affiliate. “I’m on my way to the bank to cash this check. Will you call Mrs. warmth & wonderful?” My associate, who was far more diplomatic than I was, knew how to dance around demands. She replied, “That woman can go straight to the devils paradise!” Had I known about it, I would have recommended underwater screaming therapy that’s so popular now with Angelina Jolie. Our client did have a pool. And together my partner and I had four hands. A dunk tank can be a good source of satisfaction. Since I wasn’t fluent in foreign languages, I was fully prepared to converse in Pig Latin if she ever called again.

Post prima donna, we got a call from another client about redoing her bathroom. We had become competent wall designers. Yet not so competent at taking directions. The woman was a little less callous character, especially after the minor property impairment. It’s not like we purposely vowed to torment anyone. But when my partner relayed the route to the destination, she said, “look for the caution tape.” Which was there, plain as day, laying alongside the house. I pulled my car into the driveway and my colleague shrieked, “Back up now!!!” As I pulled away I noticed tire tracks imbedded deeply into wet cement. Boy was I in the hot seat. We sat there questioning why the tape wasn’t barricading the entrance to the newly poured driveway. Never in my somewhat sizable cranial capacity did I think I’d be storing that memory. Our sudden screeches brought the stunned, yet sweeter home owner outside. We ended up doing that bathroom for free, plus offered our firstborns.

On a more playful occasion, the same partner in crime assisted me in an earlier rest room revamp. This time it was at a friend’s home, and Ralph Lauren had just launched his trendy painting products. Our friend left for a few hours but did come back to beautifully textured walls. We fancied ourselves as the faux finish queens on the cusp of a niche market. But us interns still had some learnin’ to do. I suspected all the other queens in the industry didn’t have to call the company to ask questions. But there we were, ready to dial the help hotline since it was our first time attempting that particular wall treatment. My partner said, “I’ll call Ralph’s customer service.” There was a second extension in the same room so I picked it up to listen in. Our eyes bugged out of our heads at what we were hearing and we laughed hysterically. We listened long enough to absorb the sensual experience. She had dialed one digit off and got the sex hotline by mistake. After feeling weak bladder bliss, we proceeded to do the job. I stopped her mid-fauxing and said, “We must tell our girlfriend what happened because she’ll get the phone bill and assume her husband or son made that illicit call!” These situations can manifest adversely, depending on what folks are involved.

If we are to be inextricably linked to life’s blunders, they would be more manageable if they came with musical accompaniments.

(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

REGRETFULLY YOURS

Sometimes I regret not joining a gym. Mostly because I love those fitness plans that cost as much as a Swiss vacation where I have to actually get up and go to a place where they provide me with a thorough analysis of my flabby parts along with my willpower to lift barbells while wearing skimpy clothing that spells streetwalker as the sweat is pouring off me just as I’m passing several people I might know and have to stop to make small talk with that ultimately leaves no time to bother then I have to skedaddle for other reasons. Besides, I heard they lock you in the steam room until you agree to buy a membership. Why work out when my body is going to end up looking like a gourd anyway? I’m already exercising crunches and extreme movements. I’m skipping to the cupboard for some Crunch ‘n Munch.

It’s too bad babbling doesn’t burn calories.

I recently saw a televised Rolling Stones concert. At seventy-one years old, that Jagger is still jumping around like a kid in a toy store. He may be skinny, but I’ll bet his eardrums, vocal chords, and other body parts are completely shot. I’m sure he would get more satisfaction and girlie action if he would just consult with me personally about a specific beauty program. I could really accentuate those lines around his lips. And the last thing he wants is to bop around the stage smelling like a water buffalo. It’s a good thing he has the sense to remove the little dabs of toilet paper after razor cuts that could really ruin his reputation as a heartthrob. I do regret never asking him if I could be a back-up singer. Because unlike him, I may have enough coins to live comfortably for the rest of my life. If I die before Tuesday.

As a kid, I’m remorseful that I lost so many things. A baby tooth fell down the baseboard heater so I replaced it with the hairs I cut off my legs. The tooth fairy must have thought the dog rested under my pillow because she left hard rawhide instead of money. I guess before you get old and wise you first have to be young and boneheaded. I also know now never to scream when I don’t get something I want. I think my mother regretted not puncturing my esophagus many times. The other big regret she had was not spending more time with her children. Even if she had, she may have regretted giving birth.

I have always second guessed my decision not to trap and torture my parents by switching places with that girl from France at summer camp who looked exactly like me. Although I didn’t have a longing to reunite with my father when I knew darn well he was at home bugging my bedroom. But I did want to climb the Eiffel Tower and frolic in French fountains. Camp was supposed to be so much fun, but there were too many restrictions. No sleeveless shirts. No shorts above mid-thigh. No exposed abdomens. No weapons hid in magazines. And I thought I’d never survive broccoli. The cabin leader apprehended me one day asking where I was around 5. I told her kindergarten. I regret being shifty. I’m also sorry I didn’t take more pictures. As my brain slowly slips into senility, I’d like to remember those fond memories of pranking everyone by surrounding their beds with honey and marbles. Camp was a complete disaster. It rained every day. And I shouldn’t have written postcards to everyone saying my cabin blew up.

There were conflicting views on arrangements for my high school prom. Some formal organizers wanted to rent the Waldorf Astoria, have flowers flown in from Holland, and hire The Doors. The other option was to have it in a park with already bedded perennials and listen to an inharmonious imitation of The Delfonics. Needless to say, it was a ho-hum evening spent sitting in a lawn chair distinguishing between queen and cousin ants on the groundcover while my date got sloshed. But even if we had been bound for the Big Apple, we would have boarded buses and God knows where we would have ended up. Because the marginal amount of poverty funding would never have gotten us past the Detroit border. I also regret not being blessed with a bigger bust. The honorary titled prom princess tiara went to debutantress tight-shirted Debbie.

I should have gotten together with Michael Keaton. I had the chance once. I passed him on the escalator at Union station and he gave a big warm welcoming smile towards the lady to my left and it felt like he was totally into me. It was a relationship waiting to happen. He could undoubtedly make me grin. And I liked the fact that he didn’t typically mould into Tinseltown. Plus, he’s a fabulous fly fisherman. Not that fly fishing is my thing, nor will it ever be. I can’t stand flies. But casting probably helped Michael’s career because now he is Batman forever. Being with him would have given me perks. I could use his services as a Beetlejuiced bio-exorcist whenever I need to remove obnoxious people from my presence.

I always regret comingling with my expensive grocer. I go for milk and come home with several boxes of cereal that were on sale, a case of bottled water, a toothpick holder, a free potato peeler with the purchase of fifty pounds of potatoes, and ten Kleenex boxes since I couldn’t choose which design I liked best. Except jeezle pete. I need to eat.

I coulda belted out tunes, looked for lost things, frolicked in French fountains, and shoulda danced at prom. I probably shoulda played hanky-panky with Keaton and coulda shopped till I dropped. Then I woulda lost a few pounds and turned out quite a muscular woman.

(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

NEIGHBORLY

At one time or another, most of us have had neighbors, been neighbors, and borrowed from neighbors. Some have even gone to the extent of peeping at neighbors. I myself have always loved most of the clowns to the left of me and jokers to the right. Although not all of them present a ray of intercommunity consideration. Regarding that mega watt spotlight that’s casting a blinding beam into my boudoir, I can totally do without that much glare while removing my makeup. It tends to highlight every fine line on my face. I’m beginning to think I live next to a penitentiary. Tonight I may have to count my age spots behind sunglasses and sunscreen.

I must say, I’ve had some wonderful people residing nearby. Two came to shovel my driveway during a Michigan blizzard since I didn’t have a snow blower. But I never saw them again. Probably because my driveway was the length of a football field. I was awakened by the neighbors right next to me who were engaging in rigorous activity that caused squeaky mattress coils. I wanted to ask if they would restrain themselves between the hours of not now and forever.

If it wasn’t for the other neighbor who extended his country courtesy by loaning me his subscribed internet service for six months, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy other Sex in the City. I bet his range extender reached the Parker’s place in Albuquerque. Except due to payment disobedience, my connection was cut right in the middle of the episode where Miranda flirts with the doctor who moved into her building when she had chicken pox. She finds out his spoken language was speechlessness. My neighbor would have been speechless too if he found out about my time-sharing. I really wanted to maintain that friendship. I was hoping he had a direct line to the Oval office.

Our coffee is Colombian. Our bread sometimes Italian. Our clothes come from China. And our democracy is becoming communistic. So it was such a natural thing that one neighbor came from Mars. I know this because his Venusian wife says he retreats to his cave with the remote. Some neighbors represent a certain evasiveness by never leaving the couch to socialize, yet draw attention to their yards all year with enough Christmas decorations to cover Trump Tower. But he always wanted to get a head start on the holidays. Except in an extremely tired state, who enjoys hearing “Hark the herald angels sing” most midnights? All year? I never realized my buddy beside me was the acoustical engineer for Santa. I liked returning the favor by blaring Bon Jovi. But I do love thy neighbor’s as I love thyself. They are always home when I need to borrow bath beads.

I’ve had to wonder about the binocular holding tree climbing guy behind me. And to his left is a teenage cell phone holder who decided to move past the perimeter of her own patio and venture out into the coveted acreage of property owners. Which was also within listening distance of my back door. I heard every detail of her unjust high school existence. It wasn’t pretty. Somewhat mesmerized by her meltdown, I reached out to offer my condolences. I told her I went to high school once myself. She looked at me as though I was born yesterday. Or maybe she thought I got there by way of a covered wagon, but whatever.

Then came the night of the fur coats. My boyfriend and I met with friends to watch a boxing match. Half the night was spent in front of the telly, the other half in the crispness of the cool outdoors. Which reminds me, I need to get them one of those humongous outdoor heaters and put my name on it. While most women are dripping pools of menopausal sweat, I’m sitting there shivering like a Chihuahua. I should respond to garden party invitations with “Yes, the ice woman cometh,” and always tote a bearskin. We all have fears. The fear of falling. The fear that Florida has too many alligators. The fear of freezing to death. My other fear was that I couldn’t steady my martini glass. Yet the hostess with the mostess sensed my need. The worst case scenario was that she would have to put my martinis in a sippy cup. Which would have been fine if I didn’t have to drive home or spend the night on the discomfort of their lawn furniture. She went into her coat collection and draped each of us gals in furs. It wouldn’t have been so neighborly had I left with the valuable. Except her husband barricaded the exits. It’s one of the hazards of house thievery. But more obvious than that, he didn’t want his buddies to leave. Ever.

I reconsidered keeping the wrap after giving much thought to the possibility of being shot on the street by some animal rights revolutionary, or sought out by a male fox. The fun portion of the evening came when we bet on the fight. One of the wives and I won both bets. In protest, the disenchanted house husband yelled, “Who brought these chicks? I’m guessing neither one of them know a thing about boxing!” I said, “That jackpot just earned me a night ringside for another boxing match so I can watch Kobe Bryant in action! ” I suppose it wasn’t so neighborly of me to run off with all the money. But again, whatever.

I’ve always wanted a doctor for a neighbor. And a lawyer. And an accountant. Someone you could pass a beer to in exchange for professional services. The perfect neighbor would encompass a broad spectrum of things. Like internet usage, less intense lighting, a water bed, fleeing to Tahiti for Christmas, own outdoor heaters, and anything else that people in close proximity can tolerate. No need for the snow blower. Just sunblock.

(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)