Know Thy Neighbor

Yesterday was pretty rainy here, to say the least. I think a tornado took out part of this town south of here. I had to hide the paper headline from my son because I just got done telling him that tornadoes don’t happen in this state. I mean, I have never seen one. Anyway, at the last minute my sister’s babysitter canceled and since I am…well, a homemaker now and pretty much just hang out after taking my kids to school, she asked me to babysit my four-month-old niece.

She drove here in the morning and then I drove her to work in her car so that I could keep the car seat in its installed place. Not to mention my car was in the shop. I have my Monday afternoon tutoring session with a first grader and thought it would be no problem to bring the baby along.

It’s only an hour and besides my 8 year old son accompanies me because he has a new found love of teaching others and he could help out if things went awry. I have to say that I forgot how much work goes into taking care of a four month old. I mean you would think they would be content just sitting around looking at stuff. I also forgot how essential my mid-morning nap was, especially when you cannot have it. I wasn’t tired but not being able to have it made me want it more. So, I opted for a movie.

She liked staring at the TV so I turned it on and we watched this killer movie about Truman Capote. I have to admit (sorry T) that it was a bit scandalous and they said the f word a couple of times. I did cringe despite the fact that it is one of my favorite words, but I knew she didn’t know what was being said so we lay on the floor and watched the last 45 minutes.

It was so fun. After multiple feedings, diaper changing’s and an Einstein video I decided to teach her a little dance. She needed a little Flo Rida in her life and we shook it to “Low”. If you don’t know this song you must go immediately to itunes and take a listen. “She wore them Apple Bottom jeans, boots with the fur, had the whole club look’n at her…”You get the picture. Time did fly by and it was time to start packing up for tutoring. I had her monogrammed baby bag, my tutoring bag, my newly extra large purse and her in the car seat. It was pouring down rain. I got us into the car as dry as possible.

The plan was to go straight to my sons carpool early so I could be first in line and then straight to my 3pm tutoring session. It was all timed out perfectly. It was currently 2pm and I would be the first car in the carpool line and for that to happen I needed to be there by 230pm. I so loved being this organized. See, I could handle a ton of kids. I turned the key to my sister’s car. NOTHING. I couldn’t believe it.

What was wrong with the car? I noticed the light thingy was turned to the on position. I must have left the lights on from this morning. I mean my Mercedes lights turned off automatically this car is considered luxury…WTF!

I immediately called my sister at work. The rain was coming down so hard outside that she could barely hear me. She was like I am running into a meeting. I said your car isn’t working. She said you must have left the lights on. I wanted to lie and say NO but instead, I said why don’t they turn off automatically? She ignored that smart ass remark and said that she had jumper cables in the back. I ignored that smart ass remark and I told her that I have no idea how to jump a car nor did I have a car to jump it with.

I also let her know that my whole afternoon was falling apart faster than the rain was coming down and I would have to call my sons school to cancel picking him up. She ignored that too. She said to go and see if I could find a neighbor to help and to call her back. I got out of the car. I walked without an umbrella to the end of my driveway and stared at all the houses in my cul-de-sac. So, this was probably why it was a good idea to get to know your neighbors. I was soaked head to toe standing there at the end of my driveway.

My brown cords dripping water pellets onto my ratty old Uggs. Wow, I thought back as I looked at their homes, I didn’t even so much as wave to these people when I would hurry past them going 40 mph. I would past their kids riding on the tricycle on my way to work and pretend to be talking on my cell phone to avoid eye contact.

The truth is I never saw any of them because I left before 730am and came home close to 7pm. Honestly, I didn’t have time to know them. What was the point? Well, my friends, at that moment, I understood the point. The point of saying good morning Joe, how is your sister’s baby…your lawn looks great….who built your deck. The things that would make my skin bristle suddenly seemed so normal and to make it worse I wished I had a least said one thing over the past two years to anyone of these people who lived arms length away…any one of them.

I was soaking wet as I stared around the circle when it occurred to me that no man would be home. The men worked. I ran next door and knocked, no one was home. There wasn’t a single car in anyone’s driveway. I felt like they all saw me from their peeled back curtains and were laughing as I was soaked from head to toe. I ran back to the car and called my sister. No one is here, no men, no women, I know no one. She said to calm down and that she was having one of her male co-workers drive them to my house. I called my son’s school to let them know that I would not be getting him in carpool and to please send him to after school care. I could almost hear the disdain in this woman’s voice.

After school care, the place where all the “too busy mother’s” send their kids. I was about to say f- you (I was clearly losing it) but my sister beeped in to let me know she was in my neighborhood. The rain was almost hail. She and Rick pulled up next to the car. He assured me that he read the manual the whole way to my house. I was thinking, read the manual, what kind of man did my sister bring? I was also thinking that I am not touching anything because I am not getting electrocuted because my sister bought a car without automatic lights and a man without manly skills. They needed a bigger umbrella so I ran to my door. It was locked.

I had her keys not mine and I had locked myself out of my house. (Thank God the whole time the baby was fast asleep in the car seat.) I ran around the house soaking wet yelling like a lunatic that I locked myself out of my flipping house. My sister suddenly screamed with joy as she remembered that she had a spare key of my house in her car. We didn’t even discuss the weirdness of this fact. We just got it out.

I was so excited that she had a key that we celebrated in the rain and did a handoff in front of her car as Rick calmly stood in his nice suit, getting wet, under the small umbrella. He was attaching the first set of cables. I got inside the house, grabbed my keys and a large umbrella. We opened the hood of her car and gave the large umbrella to Rick. He had us hold the cables and reminded us twice not to let them touch. I thought, OK well, he is smart, good thing he read the manual. He grabbed them from us and attached them to her car.

He told us to get in her car and start it. I jumped in the driver seat and T jumped into the passenger seat. I told her to give me the keys. She told me that she didn’t have them. I looked at her. Her normally cutely curled short hair was flat around her face, her mascara was running and her beautiful green sweater was hanging off her shoulders, but her giant white beaded necklace looked fabulous. I reminded her that I gave them to her when she gave me my house key. We did not have them…we looked outside at Rick.

He was standing in the downpour looking at us through the windshield, holding the extra large umbrella over his head, and we just couldn’t take it. We started dying with laughter. We started yelling at him through our fits that we don’t have the keys. We cannot find them. I ran back into the house. T went through all the cars. We were in tears of laughter and humiliation as this guy looked at us like he has just met the female version of the Keystone Cops.

We got back into the car and just stared at each other both wanting to place blame on the other but both knowing deep inside that either of us could be at fault. At least we were not getting rained on at that moment like poor Rick. Suddenly, Rick yelled through the windshield that he had found them. He found them in a puddle in front of her car. We had dropped them together. The car started. I thanked Rick a thousand times as they pulled away. He told me to let the car sit for five minutes. I waited for one and then pulled out and I made it to tutoring just on time. However, as I pulled out of the driveway I saw my neighbor across the street pulling into their driveway.

I beeped the horn like a lunatic and waved frantically. He just stared at me. Well, I have to start somewhere.

E