Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Story #23 Mr. Meanie, the neighbor

Cheesy name, I know...but I'm still recovering from my illness. The main problem is I don't remember the man's name...I usually change names anyway...but I couldn't come up with anything so you're stuck with it.

When I was younger, my Mom found a puppy at school. It was a very, small puppy who had been left by the dumpster - so she brought him home. I would have done the same thing. I mean - who can leave a puppy by a dumpster? Anyway, I don't know if my Mom's original intent was to keep the dog - but, we felt pretty excited about him and someone quickly named him Freckles. Once he had a name we knew he wasn't going anywhere.

Freckles quickly grew into quite the energetic animal. He was some kind of cocker spaniel mix with the same amount of energy as 20 border collies. When he wagged his tail it turned his entire body into a macaroni noodle - and he wagged frequently. I was slightly afraid of him - he could jump ridiculously high and we had very limited control over his behavior.

One of his favorite behaviors was to dig under the fence and run down the street. At the end of the street was an immaculately groomed yard. On the corner of this particular yard was an enormous round juniper bush. I know it doesn't sound grand - but it was quite spectacular both in it's size and in the fact that it looked so perfectly smooth with one glaring yellow spot. The owner of the house, Mr. Meanie, spent a lot of time keeping his yard looking beautiful and in no way appreciated the efforts Freckles made in watering this particular bush. Mr. Meanie yelled at him, swore at him, and on the last occasion threw a wrench at Freckles.

Freckles was completely oblivious to his bad behavior and was far too quick for Mr. Meanie to actually hit him. But Marc and I were upset. We went into the house and told our Mom how truly mean Mr. Meanie was. We wanted her to take action!! She didn't say much, just listened and then ran to the store.

I don't know if it was the next day or the same day - but I do know that our house was filled with the most incredible aroma. Now, my Mom was a full-time working, single Mom so she didn't have a lot of time to bake - but there was one special treat we would get on birthdays and special occasions. This very moist, creamy chocolate cake with whipped cream frosting. Even as a child I was not a huge cake fan - this was an exception. I'm craving it now just thinking about it! Yum.

You cannot bake something in your house without drawing all of the house's occupants to the kitchen. Scent hypnosis. We quickly converged on the kitchen feeling very excited that we were having cake ...hooray!! After the torturous cooling period my Mom began to whip the chocolate cream frosting. Tensions arose....2 beaters 3 do the math. When eternities had passed the cake was finally assembled and we were instructed to put on our nice Sunday clothes. It was all very exciting! Scratchy but exciting!

We came downstairs and found that Mom had covered the cake. She told us that we needed to apologize to Mr. Meanie and let him know that we would try a lot harder to keep Freckles in our yard. As an adult I can imagine how frustrating it must have been to work so hard on your yard and to have the same dog continually thwart your efforts, but as a child I thought "Hey - I want that cake!" We slowly walked down the street - Lisa, being the oldest, was elected spokesperson. We went to the door and knocked. I said a silent prayer that no one would be home. Mrs. Meanie, who was not so mean, opened the door. She was taken back by seeing three dressed up children holding a 4 layer cake. Lisa said, "May we please speak to Mr. Meanie?" Mr. Meanie came to the door wearing his familiar green coveralls. Lisa gave a beautiful apology and handed the cake to Mr. Meanie. He looked at us, did not smile, and closed the door. Man was I peeved.

I seethed all the way back to the house. "He didn't even say thank you!" I ranted to my Mom. "That's okay, that wasn't the point. The point is we apologized and tried to make the situation better." Hmmm. That took a little wind out of my sails. I wasn't thrilled...but....

Later that day my Mom received a phone call from Mrs. (not-so) Meanie. She told my Mom how touched Mr. Meanie had been. No one had ever been so thoughtful. She was crying as she talked with my Mom. After the call, Mom let us know what she had said and we all felt pretty good. Important life lesson learned through chocolate...or the lack thereof.

We did not suddenly become best friends with Mr. Meanie...but there was a definite softening of hearts all around and we did try harder to keep Freckles in the yard. Freckles remained a super hyper dog until Lisa, Marc and I came home from visiting our Father in Illinois to discover that Freckles had packed up and moved next door. But that's another story.


michelle said...

I have heard this story before from Marc -- it must have made quite an impact! The fact that it touched Mr. Meanie makes it so much more satisfying, it's hard to serve someone who has no reaction.

What's this about Freckles moving next door? That's one I'm not familiar with.

Jill said...

"Scent hypnosis." What a great term and oh so true!

I love your stories Michelle! I'm inspired by this one and love that your mom taught you guys this lesson, I'll definitely have to remember this in case a situation like this arises for us (though we'll never have a dog!)