Saturday, March 05, 2005

Next Time Mary

Our dear next-door neighbor called this morning, to let us know that she and her niece will be gone for the weekend, will we keep an eye on the house etc. Marie and I are so very lucky to have such a delightful lady for a neighbor, friendly and cooperative, just the nicest person. We are happy to keep our eye on your crib, Mary.

I guess it must have been 3 years ago now, when I decided to sell my smallish Chevy Astro Van, in order to upgrade to a van which would accomodate a lift for my step-son Blaine, who uses a wheelchair. However, after I found out that the van’s trade-in value was not even close to what I thought it was worth, I decided to see if I could sell it myself, get a bit more out of it. I bought one of those big For Sale signs at Home Depot, or some such do it yourself store, and popped one in the Astro’s window.

So that rig sat in front of our house for a couple of weeks, and we had a few inquiries, but no cigar. I was getting ready to put an ad in the paper when Mary called. She had seen the sign, and she had a friend who was interested, and wanted to know our asking price. I am going to be brief with this part, cuz, well, it was a rather brief sale. Her friend wanted it, and Mary was going to do the deal and then work it out with her friend, who lived in another city. We made an appointment for me to come over to her house with the paperwork.

I once knew a guy who wouldn’t carry a wallet ‘cause he thought it made his jeans look funny. It ruined the look. I got a chuckle outa that. I am so the opposite of that. In fact, since I was in my early thirties, I have been carrying a purse of some kind. At first, for about 10 years, I stuck with a fanny pack, but as I got older, and needed room for more and more stuff, more keys for my business and other things, phone, meds, tools, etc, I went to a full blown purse, or as we homophobes say, a “Man” purse. So I grabbed it, along with the necessary paperwork, and headed over to Mary’s house. We did the deal, it was painless, I got a check, and split. I hope the person who ended up with that van is well pleased. It was in good shape when I sold it. I just needed a bigger rig.

Later that day, at home, I went to grab my purse again to, oh I dunno, go get a few groceries, run up to the pet store, something. But when I went for my purse, in our foyer, it wasn’t on it’s hook. Whenever that happens, I get nervous, since I am a guy who can lose things, even though I am much better than I was when I was young, overly energetic and exceedingly attention deficient. So I just stood there, as usual, dumbfounded, thinking about where my purse might be. I looked in the rest of the house. I went out and looked in the van, even though I had just sold it. The door to the van was open, and I thought, oh-oh, maybe I had left the van door open, and my purse had been stolen. Shit. And then I remembered that I had taken my purse over to Mary’s, or at least I had a vague recollection of taking it over there, so I gave Mary a call.

Ric: Hi Mary, hey, I think I may have left my purse over there, did I?
Mary: Well, let me look a sec Ric. (She is gone from the phone for a bit)
Mary: No I don’t see it over here Ric, sorry, I’ll let’cha know if I find it.
Ric: Damn, okay, Mary. Thanks, bye.
Mary: Bye Ric, good luck.

Shit! Shit! Shit! Maybe my purse WAS stolen! Shit! Man, now that is one depressing moment, when you lose, oh, your wallet, with all your credit cards in it. Two checkbooks. A cell phone, which is programmed with all the numbers you use a lot. Your prescription medicines. A few small tools. Sunglasses. Regular glasses. Your keys!!!!!! The extra set of keys, which were kindly and lovingly bestowed upon you....... to your wife’s Volvo!!!!! Shit!

But you must go forward. You keep looking. You look everywhere. You call all the stores where you can remember being in the last 48 hours. You rip your house apart. You walk around the neighborhood, on and on, until, at last, you resign yourself to the fact that, alas, your purse is gone.

And then, the marathon begins. Cancel the credit cards. Cancel the checking accounts, open new ones. Buy a new cell phone. Grieve.

But the keys to my wife’s car.....that was the biggest disaster. Not assuming anything, but realizing that, if my purse was stolen out of my van, which was now Mary’s van, right in front of our house, then the thief might come back, and steal Marie’s new Volvo!!!

It took maybe three weeks to get everything straightened out, that is, to get everything cancelled, get new checks in the mail (on one account , my last name was spelled wrong on the checks, reorder!) But the Volvo key debacle, now that was a hassle.

Of course it was going to be major to change the locks on the new Volvo. The Volvo is an amazing car, all computerized, just a fine machine. But to fix the locks, the car needed to be taken in, and some complex procedure would have to take place, to the tune of several hundred dollars. I was livid. And depressed. Borderline wretched. Losing my purse was stupid, all right, but losing my wife’s keys, now there was one pathetic, bonehead move.

So obviously, since it was going to cost so much to get the Volvo fixed, we realized we had better wait a few weeks, to see if the purse showed up. And every night, to be sure that the Volvo would not be stolen out of the driveway, I would park my new van in the driveway, behind the Volvo, to block it in. And since we had made plans to go out of town for the weekend, we even asked another neighbor to park his car in our driveway for a couple of nights, while we were gone.

No purse showed up. And finally, it was time to make an appointment for the Volvo repair.

I called the Volvo dealer, and asked for the serviceman I had originally called. He was very understanding, and remembered my first call. “Well, I am so sorry to hear your keys have not shown up”, he said,”but we will get it all fixed up for you”. I set a date for the repair for a few days hence. I emailed Marie that I had made the appointment.

So I am sure you will surprised, as I was, that only minutes after my conversation with the Volvo dealer, and I promise you this is the truth, I got a call from Mary.

Mary: Hi Ric, this is Mary.
Ric: (expecting nothing) Hi Mary.
Mary: Guess what Ric?
Ric: What?
Mary: I found your purse Ric.

Words cannot describe my astonishment and elation. Mary and I talked for a sec, and I ran right over. I held my purse like it was a long lost lover. I dove my hand in to find the Volvo keys, still there.

Mary: Gee Ric, I thought it was Jim’s thing, it was right here by where he pays his bills, gee.
Ric: No problem Mary, thank you so much.

And if I may just put in a word for Mary here.........we really love Mary. It was just one of those things, shit happens. And I am oh so grateful she finally found it. But I will admit.....there was a piece of me that wished she might have looked a bit further, the first time I called.

My wife Marie, of course, was also flabbergasted, knowing full well what I had been through to replace all the items in my purse, how much it had cost me, and how I had suffered for losing her keys. Bottom line, we were just so damn relieved. I cancelled the Volvo appointment.

So Mary, if you ever read this, remember, we think you are absolutely the greatest neighbor on the face of the planet......but......I did have to write a song about this experience.....and you’re in it. In’s titled, “Next Time Mary”.....and if you click on this link, you can hear the song.

Click here to listen to Next Time Mary and read the lyrics

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Pacific Beach, Washington, United States