Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Bench

“Good morning, Harold,” I said carting away more dead palm fronds from my too tall palm trees.
“I’ve got a gift for you,” my 86 year-old neighbor said entering his garage.
“A gift?” I said trotting after him. “For me?”
“Here you go.”
“It’s… an old plank of wood.”
“You’re welcome.”

I love presents (who doesn’t?) and I like our neighbors but I wasn’t sure how to feel about Harold’s plank gift. Basically: Should I like it? Dislike it? Or say “Oh, you really shouldn’t have. Really.”? Mr. Wonderful was much less conflicted. 

“How nice of him,” my spouse said running a hand over it.
“It’s an old plank of wood.”
“Real wood’s expensive these days.”
“It was cluttering his garage.”
“One man’s trash is another man’s plank.”
“It’s paint color looks like a sick peach.”
“It’ll go with everything.”
“Like sick peaches.”

Mr. Wonderful dismissed Harold’s pre-spring cleaning plus all my concerns and promptly put the plank to work. That day he was moving gravel from one corner of our lot to another—as men are wont to do—and needed something to run the gravel-filled wheelbarrow over. He used the plank. 

Later he needed to level off the gravel he had moved from the old pile to the new pile—as men are wont to do. He used the plank.

The next day he needed to sweep the Pétanque court clean of fallen leaves—as Pétanque players are wont to do. He used le plank.

Bringing my spouse a refreshing glass of water I found him in the garden eyeing two of our palm trees.

“What if,” Mr. Wonderful said “I made a permanent bench of Harold’s plank?” My spouse explained how he would cut the plank to fit between the two palm tree trunks thereby making the palm trees useful (finally!) but also make further use of Harold’s plank. This was the best idea I’d heard from Mr. Wonderful that day so I supported it wholeheartedly with more glasses of water, a back rub and several cheers. Such as:

“Two-Four-Six-in the bank,
      Here’s to the best ever plank!”  

“Plank and trees unite!
Fight, bench, fight!”


Once my spouse had finished sawing the plank and setting it between the palm tree trunks to form the bench, we sat on it.

“I like it,” I said brushing away the sawdust “except for the sick peach color.”
“Let’s paint it brown to match The House,” he said.
“But first let’s show Harold what his plank has become.”

Just then Harold appeared. 
“You built a bench?” he said shuffling toward us on the walk.
“With your plank, Harold!” I said smiling. “Come sit on it.”
Mr. Wonderful stood and gingerly Harold sat down on the bench next to me.
“It fits two people,” he said patting the bench. 
“He made it out of your plank,” I explained. 
“Good work,” his hand slid over the wooden seat and its sick peach color. 
“Thanks for the plank,” Mr. Wonderful said. “We’re lucky to have a neighbor like you.”
“You’re welcome,” Harold rose and retuned to the walkway leading back to his house. “But you need to paint that bench. Right now it looks like sick peaches.”