You Had To Be There

George, a new neighbor of mine, showed up at my door with two men. I was curious, to say the least. I had taken George to the senior center here in town and introduced him around so he could get to know some of the residences. Actually, George just recently retired and moved to Texas. He was a New York policeman. Poor dear. Anyway, he and I got off to a rough start as neighbors when he tried to kill my pet squirrel, Oscar.

I had decided and followed through with teaching George how things worked in the South. It was either that or hang him. George has a cat named Bertha, who Oscar adores. Oscar’s story started with a cat named Ashley who pass a while back. My idea was to introduce George to a couple of old goats at the senior center so he would stop popping up at my door. You see, George does not need a walker, he has hair, and he is active. He is also surrounded by widows. Several times a week I see my neighbors taking covered dishes to George. In the South, we still think the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

George had started coming over to my house to play with Oscar, which is really an excuse not to answer his own front door. Once he started going to the senior center and playing dominos I thought maybe I had escaped the burden of being a hostess. I do not mind it once in a while, but three times a week is just a bit much. I had other things to do than entertain a damned Yankee. Yankee is a Northern born person who moves to the South and returns to the North. A damned Yankee is one who stays.

I was totally surprised to see three men standing at my front door. It had to be in the morning when I had lost my teeth. I could not remember where I had left them. I know, how they got lost is not important, the fact that they were lost and 3 MEN AT THE DOOR. I quickly brushed my hair, threw on my eyelashes, and put on my best mask. I looked at the three masked men at my front door. I thought quickly about what a time we live in. If I had seen three masked men at my door last year, I would have called the police. I open the door.

“Jane, can we play dominos at your house?” George had a box of chocolates in his hand and a look of desperation in his eyes. I stepped aside and showed the gentlemen in. “They shut down the senior center until everyone gets vaccinated for the virus.

I was so glad I had a mask. No one would know I did not have my teeth in. I sat down in my big barrel chair and the three gentlemen sat in the oversized chairs and love seat that made up the rest of my living room. George started introducing the men to me. He turned to one man about the time Oscar came scampering into the room. George and I were so used to Oscar greeting everyone we did not think about it. Oscar hopped on the first guy’s shoe and he screamed and shook his foot, sending Oscar flying into the barrel chair. “He is after my nuts,” the man kept shouting. “He is trying to get up my pants, he is..” the poor man grabs his crotch and sits down. He then bends down while he is sitting and pulls his socks over the cuff of his pants. His eyes are huge. He can’t take his eyes off Oscar.

“Squirrel, squirrel, ” the other man starts shouting. He copies what he sees his brother do. George did not help, he started laughing. Not just a little giggle, he hit his leg and held his tummy, and laughed right out loud.

“I said squirrel not girl.” The first man said. It was apparent the second guy was hard of hearing.

“Come on Clyde, you should be proud of your brother.” George is trying to calm things down.

“Face it, George, he is dull. You can’t tell it now, but he fell off the turnip truck last Wednesday and we did not miss him until yesterday.” George got up, still laughing but at least trying not to. He motioned for the gentlemen to join him at the kitchen table.

Oscar had run to me. He was sitting on top of my head. I was sitting in the barrel chair, (like the Southern Lady I am), laughing a toothless laugh behind my mask. I put my hands up, “Gentlemen, Oscar lives here, he is tame, he is harmless and very friendly.” I allowed Oscar to come down my arm to the floor. He scampered over to George, who picked him up and stroked him.

The two men (notice I did not call them gentlemen) sat there motionless with their mouths open and masks dangling off one ear. They watched as George stroked Oscar. I had to ask. “George, why can you not play dominos at your house?”

“The snowstorm left me with a busted water pipe. The plumber is over there now fixing it. I had to turn the water off.” George shrugged his shoulders as the two men started setting up the dominos. “You lied to me Jane, you said Texas rarely gets snow.”

I looked at George, “We rarely get Yankees either, but here you are.” We both laughed.

I made the coffee, left out the cups, and left the room without checking to see where everyone was first. Neither did I notice the laundry room door had eased open. The doggy door is in the laundry room. All fur people use that door. I went into the master bedroom just off the kitchen. I proceeded to close the bathroom doors so that whoever used it would have privacy. Suddenly I hear total chaos.

I walked back into the kitchen. There the two masked men with their pant cuffs inside their socks holding onto coffee cups, squeezed under the kitchen table with George running through the living room trying to get the box of dominos from Oscar while Grammy sat guarding the prisoners with chatter and waving hands. Sweet Pea was very busy trying to kiss everyone and Bella kept hitting one of the guys in the head with a ball. Bertha had arrived and was laid out in the middle of the kitchen table.

“George, you said we would get true Sothern Hospitality here. Is this it?”

“Clyde let’s go back to New York.”

I clapped my hands and shooed all fur babies into the master bedroom. I refilled the coffee cups. All without saying a word. I had rescued the dominos. I put them in the middle of the table.

I motioned for all of them to be seated. I looked at each of them with my hands on my hips. “First of all, you need to know that Southern Squirrels look for nuts in the yard. and second, one more word out of you damned Yankees and I’m gettin’ the rope.”

I left the room. They finished their game, the plumber came by to let George know everything was fixed. All three men left. I closed the door afterward, sat down, and laughed my head off. What are the odds that George would move to Texas and find two more retirees from New York? All of a sudden I burped. I had to laugh; I knew it was just Grandmother haunting me from her grave. Southern ladies do not burp.

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        1. You are singing my song. I dance barefoot in the kitchen. Glad you enjoyed the story. I thought I might offend the Yankees reading it, then I thought… they would just wonder what all the fuss was about. Ya’ just don’t talk like that in mixed company. A New Yorker would think this is a compliment: “You sure smell good for an old lady.” We were on the steps leaving church when one said that to my grandmother. She told him to go straight to hell and slapped him on the cheek. She then slowly turned and walked away with dignity and grace as if nothing had happened.

          1. Yeppers thats Southern ladies fer ya!!!
            During my younger years I’ve been to many countries, and met all sorts of interesting folks. But truth be told gal,for me a Southern bred lady is beyond value.
            Be safe ma am and leave them Northern boys to themselves.

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