My friend Letitia came over on Thursday in the late afternoon for tea.
I told her to come earlier! Everybody with kids knows that at around six all hell breaks loose. But nooooo…
So here we were with three kids and a new baby in the house, all of them tired and getting hungry, and I’m trying to make dinner for those of them that belong to me, while still being good company and not chasing the guests out of the house with a frying pan.
“And so I was trying to find the…”
“Moooom, is dinnah ready yet?”
“In fifteen minutes, honey. I was trying to find…”
“THAT’S MINE! AHHHHH!!!”
“WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON BACK THERE? Is your tea too cold? GET OVER HERE!”
“Umm, maybe we should go.”
I checked the clock and, sure enough, it was already twenty after six. Oh, holy Lord. “Yeah, you’d probably better go.” Get out, get out, get out!
If it weren’t for our neighbours I would have just asked Letitia and her daughter to have dinner with us, but things get a little interesting around our usual dinner time, which was in…five minutes.
Anyway, dinner time. You know those neighbours? Those neighbours? Yeah, you know those neighbours. Ours are a few units down, and their lawn is just covered with all kinds of knick-knacks. Mini-signposts, fake four-inch wide ponds, gardening gnomes, cheeky gnomes, abomination-to-God-horrifying gnomes. And there’s this funny, kitschy sign that says, “Do not feed or approach the gnomes.” During the daytime it’s kind of cute, but starting at twilight it just looks like a bomb went off in the yard. The neighbours themselves are so elderly that they go to bed at five-thirty every day, which means they’ve never seen it happen. They don’t believe us, and I think their feelings are pretty hurt to think that the whole neighbourhood would gang up on them in some kind of mean-spirited trick.
I was hurrying Letitia and her daughter into their coats and out the door, but of course she had to have the extended Irish Goodbye on the porch. When she finally turned around to leave, she stopped again. “Do you have gophers?” she asked, pointing to a flittering shadow in the yard, too small to be a cat.
Crap! “Um, yeah. Gophers. We do, but they bite. So, um, just walk really quietly, okay?”
She was a foot and a half from the gate when she stopped again and looked harder. Probably because gophers don’t dig with tiny little shovels.
She stepped off the walkway to have a better look, and then jumped back as the shadow scrambled toward her, but it was too late. I cringed – it was the short-haired one with the green and orange vest. Ick, he was a nasty one.
“What the hell!?” she was screaming as he clambered up her jacket and into her hair, and started rocking back and forth by the roots, chittering this crazy high-pitched laugh. Then he bit her on the ear. I managed to pull him out of her hair, while I was shrieking, “DO NOT FEED OR APPROACH THE GNOMES!” and then I jumped on him. There was nothing else to do – once one of those gnomes declares war on your house, it is on. He will vandalize your house and yard every night until somebody gets rid of him.
Yep, I think the next time somebody stays at my house until sundown I’ll ply them with alcohol so they have to stay the night. All that night we were kept up by wailing gnomes, burying that poor little bugger. And the next day, walking the kids outside, I heard sweet old Mrs. Lamarche, tsking and saying to her husband, “Look dear! Somebody stole another of our gnomes!”