Day 240: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Two years ago, Tom opened the side door to put Linus on the chain.  Just as he was reaching for the chain, Linus caught sight of another dog passing by.  He took off like a bat out of hell in the direction of the little schnauzer, barking his friendly “hello.”  However, said schnauzer did not find the bark of fifty pound Linus friendly.  He cowered behind his owner, whimpering.

Tom felt awful.  He ran after Linus.  He grabbed his collar and said to the schnauzer’s owner, “Is he okay?”

The owner misinterpreted.  “Is he okay?  You should be asking about my dog!”

“I was asking about your dog!” Tom countered.

“Get your dog on a leash before he bites someone!” the man yelled back.  He yanked his dog’s leash, and they were on their way.

Tom stood at the end of our driveway somewhat dumbfounded.  He did not intend for Linus to run out.  He was concerned for the little dog, and he was misunderstood.  Nonetheless, he was angry at this man for being rude.  So angry, that when he retold the story to me, he used the word “Prick” to describe our neighbor.

Flash forward a year and a half: the Indian’s home opener.  Tom had the fortune of taking  a half day from work and going down to Progressive Field for the game.  Tom joined 43,189 other fans to root on the Cleveland Indians.  However, he didn’t stay the whole game.  April is still very chilly in Cleveland, and when the sun set, all the beer in the world couldn’t keep him warm.  He felt bad that I could not partake in the festivities, so when he got home, he decided we should go across the street to our local hangout and have a beer and watch the end of the game together.  I agreed.

We walked in and everyone in the place had Indians gear on.  The varying levels of drunkenness allowed me to gauge whether they were out for a beer or if they had been downtown all day.  We bellied up to the bar and ordered a beer.  The Indians were in the eighth inning and they were up by three runs.  They looked great, and the possibility of a pennant had already entered my mind.

But then the top of the ninth came.  The Indians blew their three-run lead.  The game was suddenly tied 4-4.  The stadium was virtually empty because the temperatures had dipped into the thirties when the sun went down.  More and more people were walking into the bar.  People like Tom, people who had been at the game but could not take the cold any longer.  In walked three strangers dressed in Indians gear.  They sat down next to us, and immediately we all started to talk about the game.  They couldn’t handle the cold either, so they decided to leave.  Of course, they were listening to the game in the car, and when the Blue Jays tied it up, they knew they had to stop off somewhere and have a beer and watch the end together.  We quickly learned that they were a father and his son and daughter.

After a few minutes of talking, we all felt like we were friends– a bar and beer and people half in the bag will do that.  We exchanged names: our new friends were Kristy, Frankie, and Frank.

“Where do you live?” Kristy asked.

“On Priscilla,” I said.

“No way!  My dad lives on Priscilla.”  Kristy turned to her dad to get his attention.  “Hey Dad, these people are your neighbors.  They live on Priscilla.”

“Where do you live,” he asked.

“Near the start of the street.  We have an Ohio State sign in our front yard,” Tom said.

Just then, a flash of recognition crossed over Frank’s face.  “You’re the jerk whose dog tried to eat Elvis,” he said.

My mouth dropped open.  I looked at Tom.  He was in utter disbelief.

“What are you talking about?” Kristy asked.

Tom and Frank retold the story.  Frank thought Tom was a jerk.  Tom thought Frank was a prick.  Both dogs were fine; it was a misunderstanding

“I really am sorry about that,” Tom said.

“No, it’s fine.  I overreacted,” Frank said.

And like so many men when they have been drinking a few beers, they hugged it out.

We made new friends that day.  We are known as “the neighbors up the street.”  We have done numerous things with them this summer, all because of an incident we all thought created enemies ended up being the familiar story that brought us together.

Today, we are going to Frank’s house for a cookout.  This is our second cookout at Frank’s and the first one was so fun, we called it Frankapalooza.  Today is going to be bigger and better.  Frankapalooza 2.0– with a bouncy house!!!!


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