Friday, July 26, 2013

Dog Gone Names

"Harold's calling," Mr. Wonderful said holding the phone toward me.
"We never talk on the phone. Why is he calling?" I said unloading the dishwasher. 
"I don't know.
"Is everything okay with him? And Norma?"
"I don't know."
"It would be horrible if they had a problem--"
"Why don't you just ask him?"

When Mr. Wonderful and I first moved into The House we'd exchanged emails with our 86 year-old neighbor and his wife. A week later we exchanged phone numbers. When Harold asked for my Skype address, I put my foot down. Yet despite having several modes of communication, all of us just preferred to walk next door and ask each other a question. It was old fashioned but I liked it.

But now Harold was calling us. Calling me. For what? To arrange lunch? A movie date? A poker night?  

"Talk to him," Mr. Wonderful said passing me the phone. But before I could say "hello", Norma was knocking on our side door. What was going on with our neighbors? Did they have a quarrel? A fistfight? A mud wrestling match?

"The dog's loose," Norma said her panicky blue eyes the color of a stormy sea. 
"You got a dog? Congratulations," I said. She waved me quiet.
"It's the neighbors' dog. It's loose."
"Jerry's dog?"
"The other neighbors' dog."

This seemed rather fishy to me. Norma and Harold were older than our neighborhood. In fact they were here when the railroad came through, the Pony Express rode in and Columbus discovered America . Why didn't they know which neighbor's dog it was? 

"Harold's on the phone," I said showing her the phone.
"Hang up. You need to get the dog, it's running around in the street." 

I did as the lady ordered and trotted outside to see Jerry in his front yard of roses waving his arms toward Charles and Stephen's house. Across the street I saw Harold herding a black and white dog toward the house very unsuccessfully. 

"Hi Harold."
"This dog belongs to the neighbors," he said. "And they're not home."
"It's Gordo. Hi, Gordo!" The dog looked up at me with an open mouth that resembled a smile. "Gordo means "fat" in Spanish." 
Harold looked at the black and white fur ball and nodded. "He is fat. But what are their names?"
"Gordo's owners?" I furred my brow. "Charles and Stephen, of course."

While Harold nodded his head, I dialed Charles on my phone, told them about Gordo's escape then helped the little sausage return to the fold. Since they were about to enter a movie screening, Charles gave profuse thanks for saving their dog and their evening out.

With Gordo safe and the neighborhood back to normal I thought about Harold not knowing our neighbors' names. Harold's brain was as sharp as a buzz saw, so his lack of knowing their names was not an Alzheimer's blip, stoke blip or uh… whatever else they call memory loss thingys. Nope, it must mean something else. 

Charles and Stephen bought their house two years before us. And in our yard we had spoken to Charles and Stephen with Harold and Norma several times. Then it hit me. Perhaps the four of them had never had been properly introduced, the good old fashioned way, with names and handshakes. That seemed wrong in our neighborhood.

The next day I saw Charles and Stephen walking back from the store at the same time that Harold and Norma were taking down the flag for the day. I seized my chance.

"Harold, Norma, have you ever met Charles and Stephen?"
"They're Gordo's owners."
Harold and Norman stopped in their yard where Charles and Stephen met them with thanks, handshakes and smiles.

Yes, it was old fashioned but I sure liked it.