On my walk around the neighbourhood today, I picked up a bagful of empty cups, water bottles and, strangely, a pair of socks. Usually, it’s just one sock or a single shoe, so this matched pair was quite intriguing.
Did they fall out of someone’s laundry bag? Fly off a clothesline in a high wind? Or did the weather turn warm and some over-clad soul threw caution to the wind … along with his tube socks … declaring, “Bring on the flipflops!”
On my way back, I noticed some papers and stray bits of styrofoam at the edge of my neighbour’s lawn. He was in the middle of mowing it, so I collected them up. He stopped the mower and came over to say hello.
Now, this man is the best storyteller I know. Mention any topic, and Mr. G can pull a related yarn — or five — from his 80 years of archives. He’ll then proceed to spin a colourful tale that takes you out of the drudgery of your day and often back to the picturesque Austrian village of his youth (haven’t seen the place, but in my mind it comes complete with gingerbread houses and candy cane lamp posts).
Today, he had mowing to finish, so he limited his tales to five, maybe six … I lost count, frankly. I did have a long list of things to do but when he pulls out his linen handkerchief and wipes his brow, you pretend you’re in the olden days when people actually took the time to stop and chat in the middle of the day.
I’ll share the highlights of a couple here. (Imagine them told with twinkly eyes, broad hand gestures and an Austrian accent so thick you could pour it over freshly baked streudel).
Story 1: The Funeral
Mr. G’s friend (there’s always a friend) attended the funeral of a man who struggled his whole life to make ends meet. After the service, the old pals gathered to reminisce about their departed friend.
“He’s the luckiest guy I know,” said one of them.
The rest of the friends were puzzled. “How can you say he’s lucky, he’s dead?” they asked.
“He’s lucky because his kids won’t be fighting over his will,” he explained. “He had nothing to fight over.” (Maybe you had to be there.)
Story 2: The Sugar Jar
Another of Mr. G’s friends helped his mother in Milwaukee (which he pronounced “Mil-wow-kee”) sell her house and move to a seniors’ apartment building. She died a year later and the son and his wife travelled to Mil-wow-kee again to clear out the place.
They came across a huge two-litre jar full of sugar and the missus instructed her husband to “Get rid of it!”
Not one to let a perfectly good glass jar go to waste, the man dumped out the sugar.
His reward for recycling?
He found $5,000 buried in the sugar.
P.S. The dance of the Bellagio fountains. Cool. Enjoy!