Boo! And hand over the M&M’s . . . by Andrea Frazer

Here’s another hilarious guest post by Andrea Frazer, author of our upcoming Happily Ticked Off.

We have this neighbor who is one of those people that makes me wish I wasn’t a Christian, because then I wouldn’t feel so obligated to (enter crazy Bible thumper lady), “Love her like Jesus loves us.” When I see her zipping down the street, driving at speeds that would make Mario Andretti weep, I want to scream words that rhyme with “Boo!”

And “You!”

But instead I pray through gritted teeth, making up lies about her life to keep me from wanting to give the Devil a First Class ticket to her broad backside with his pitch fork.

“Lord,” I pray, “Help her arrive at the rest home where her mother is gulping for air on the ventilator. Please give her peace as she cashes that lottery check, because clearly she has more important business than worrying about smushing my child flatter than a pancake under Julia Child’s rolling pin.”

True, Julia Child is dead. But the way this woman drives, she’s going to kill someone one day, so I’m sure Jesus lets this analogy slide. As much as I don’t understand my neighbor – let’s call her Mary – my husband has no problem with her. He’s not a Christian, and he doesn’t drink heavily, so I can only come up with 2 reasons:family

  1. He’s sprouting atheist angel wings under his Ward Cleaver power suit.
  2. He simply doesn’t care.

Ding ding ding! It’s Door #2. And guess what? I want soooo badly to open that door and receive my prize, too. “Congratulations, Andrea! It’s not a new car, because Mary is driving that already! (And really, she won’t kill your kids, because in that photo, it looks like your boobs are about the squash them like bug!) You, Andrea, get a super sized, FREE, dose of serenity! Take a breath! You can do this! Yes, you can deal with the crazy neighbor without purchasing a gun permit or dropping to your knees on the pavement chanting “Namaste! Namaste!”

But then today happened, and my dreams of acceptance died. A miserable, horrible, excruciating death. If my day were a movie, it would be a bad B-movie horror script. Bloody Mary and the Thank You Note Murder By Andrea Frazer Ext. Cull De Sac. Action: My SUV rolling landfill drives slowly home. I turn a corner only to see a black blur screech to a stop and honk.

I try to Helen Keller it, pretending I don’t see her flapping at me like a spastic peacock to unroll the window. But I read sign language. So I unroll them.

Mary: (Loud. Thick accent. Pick your favorite. It doesn’t matter. Except don’t pick British, because even if a Brit yelled ‘Hey, Duck Face, you have bird droppings on your nose!” it would sound like a compliment.) “Hiya, Andrea! We’re back from our trip!”

I think she is going to thank us for watching her dog—a white pure breed furball that almost bit my husband’s finger off after rubbing white strands of hair all over my newly laundered black dress. Instead, the conversation continues like this.

Mary: “We missed our flight twice. Can you believe it? Twice!”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. Well, welcome back.” She still doesn’t utter a ‘thank you’, which is really fine because… enter inner Jesus thumper… “We help for the love of Jesus… for fun and for free… not for anything in return.” Also, I am the one who apparently is lacking in the manners department which she quickly reminds me.

Mary: (scrunched up face—oh so serious) “Andrea, I have to ask you. Did you not like the meal I made for you?”

Me: (scratching my head) “Um… the one four months ago? The chicken and the take-out after James fixed your computer for four hours rather than painting my bedroom?”

Mary: “Yes! I was very very concerned, since you never mentioned it to me.”

Me: “Ah, well, I heard Rex tell you how much we loved it. I’m sorry… I figured you knew how grateful we were–

Mary: “No, I didn’t.” I think she is done. She is not. Me: “I figured you didn’t like the chicken.”

Me: “Well of course I liked the chicken! That was the best five-dollar warehouse chicken I’d eaten in my life. It was truly amazing. Nothing fowl about it. Did you buy it or wing it? I am so sorry to get your feathers in a bunch.”

Mary: (Not cracking a smile.) “Well, next time I’ll get you something better.”

Andrea: “No, really, it’s fine. I don’t need you to do that. Have you seen my house and the way I cook? I like anything.”

Mary: (big nod of agreement) “Yes, I know what you mean. (Then) I know. I’ll get you movie tickets instead!” Then she drives off. A squirrel almost meets its demise as I watch her speed away in the rearview mirror.

I don’t drink, but if I did, this should have been a Two-Buck Chuck night, followed by a double fisted M&M chaser.

After parking my car (to enter my house where I don’t clean and don’t cook, let alone write thank you notes) I take a moment to decide how I wanted to approach my kids. I don’t really want to take my irritation out on their homework hour. Instead, I vow to be like this meme.

Like my husband’s Door #2, I choose the second which really, if I say so myself, is wise. Award winning, really, except Jesus doesn’t hand out prizes for doing what you’re supposed to do. “Congratulations on your mediocrity, child! Here is a gold statue. Remind me to tell you of that time I healed ten zillion people on the shores of Galilee while you were still just being planned in your mother’s womb.”

The older I get, which is currently half-way from out of said mom’s womb—to into the tomb—I’m realizing that life is more about relationships than picking fights with crazy neighbors. How I choose to treat people is how my kids will choose to treat people. I can either model grace, or I can model “in your face.”

Most of the time, if I remember to pray, it’s about the grace. But today, it was about the “in your face.” And tonight, the kids didn’t complain about that. Instead of doing homework, they hopped into the Rolling Landfill and took a drive over to Super King where, as fate would have it, I ran into Mary. She was buying chicken. Big surprise.

Not us. We bought something much more fun. The moment we got into the car, we busted open the bags. I went from double fisting alone to six fisting those M & Ms with my partners in crime. “In your face” modeled with chocolate all over my mouth? It works. And those M& Ms?

They were delicious.

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