Grandpa Larry: Good Neighbor, Homer

My neighbor, Homer, came over the other day with a WHEW! and a swiped hand across his forehead. “Did you ever see such a drought?” he asked. I was watering my thriving zucchini with the never-ending supply of water that keeps emanating from my numerable cisterns. “Oh,” I said. “You didn’t expect it?”

I love Homer. I mean, I could have had a family of idiots with teenagers for neighbors, but I got Homer.

He answered with a blank stare. He looked a little wan. I wondered if he was dehydrated, so I sprayed him with the garden hose. His vocal response was humorous, not something I can translate into print. I love Homer. I mean, I could have had a family of idiots with teenagers for neighbors, but I got Homer. He doesn’t like dogs, like me, and his cats are skitterish and run away if you approach them. He is the only one who can make them purr while he fluffs their fur. And his questions are at the same time serious, and close to comical.

If I tried to describe Homer, then you would accuse me of working for Mad Magazine…

If I tried to describe Homer, then you would accuse me of working for Mad Magazine, but he does embody that What Me Worry look, while at the same time being intense in his inquiry. The other day, when all that gibberish was going on in the news about one thing and another, Homer came over to tell me that his wife, Henrietta, had joined a committee to discover the TRUE meaning of worship. And he went on. I was momentarily enthralled, but I knew I had to stop him. He has the capacity to go on seemingly forever. I looked at the sky above the forsythia hedge and pointed and said, “did you see that?” He looked. It is an old trick. Diversion. I put the hose down and pulled the plug on the cistern pump. I grabbed a rake and some trimmers. These props are important when you are talking to neighbors. “Follow me,” I commanded.

When you sit, you settle down into them and they are unsuspectingly comfortable.

I can get Homer to do that if I seem like I know what I am doing. There are two ratty old chairs in my yard, and I directed him to one of them. The seats have long deteriorated from the sun and I have wrapped them with strapping. When you sit, you settle down into them and they are unsuspectingly comfortable. I pointed that out to Homer. He said, “yeah, like a hemorrhoid chair.” I laughed and agreed. He tried to bring up the news again, but I thwarted him with comical allusions to distant memories that we both shared. All in all, it was a good time spent together, and I sent Homer home to his wife to sort out their interesting life journey and I closed all the gates, turned out the lights, poured myself a glass of wine, and thought I would like to share this with you.

I want to say unequivocally that Homer is not John and Henrietta is not Monica…

For some of you who know my neighbor, John, and for you, too, John, I want to say unequivocally that Homer is not John and Henrietta is not Monica, and my accounts are works of pure fiction. But they are good neighbors and John and I talk with each other and help each other out with various problems all the time. John often gives me ideas. It was his comical line about my decrepit chairs being hemorrhoid chairs. John and I have different political opinions and different ideas about the Covid, but he is kind, and generous, loves Jesus, and loves other people. We disagree but I have no problem being his friend. Do you have a neighbor like that?

Let them know you appreciate them.

– Larry Berger, HashtagWV #135. September 2021. Discover more of Larry’s stories and poems at sinksgrovepress.wordpress.com.

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