Friday, June 28, 2013

Neighborly Conversations: Cookies, Tomatoes and Thomas

I have a most intersting neighbor.

She lives a couple house up from me, on the same side of the street.

She reminds me of the young Celie... just aged 40 years. So I would guess that would make her age be somewhere in her late 50s.

She likes to sit out on her porch.

When I pass by in the mornings, I wave.

She waves back.

When I come home in the evenings, I wave.

She waves back.

That's the extent of it.

Why? Because I myself am not all that neighborly. I wave at folks. That's about it. I may make a little small talk, but that is not very often.

I tend to be skittish. I don't know what's going on in your house, nor do I care, so long as I'm not all up in there. 

But this lady is a bit... different.

She's extremely volatile.

How do I know that?

Because she is constantly cussing folks out.

And how do I know that?

Because she cusses them out on her front porch or out in the front yard. And I can hear her all the way down to my house.

This one man... I don't know WHAT he did... but she cussed him good. He left and walked around the block and she cussed even harder when he tried to come back in the house. He walked around the block again and she cussed him out the hardest when he returned again.

I don't know what he did. But I almost said, "Hey man, you want me to give you some change so you can catch the bus? You need to get on way from here so she can be quiet."

I suppose sometimes, you just have to say what you have to say. I chalk it up to that.

But it is just odd to be in the kitchen or living room and hear someone outside going OFF on someone.

And she is just volatile like that.

Here's my thing: if you're acting up like that in your front yard, what in the world is going on in the house?

Anyway, that's just an internal question. She might be peaches and cream in her house. Who knows.

But this brings about a need for a LadyLee life postulate. 

LadyLee postulate #57201: If you cussing everybody out, you'll eventually end up cussing me out, too.

Because of this, I steer clear of her. One of my isshas is that I don't deal well with noise, and I really don't deal well with very loud people. And then with her, she is cussing everybody out. That means I would have to watch my every word and action so as not to piss her off. And I am too old for that. I grew up like that. I just want to be me.

Now, this neighbor of mine will walk down to my house when she sees me outside cutting the grass. She will stand at the top of my driveway and point out places that I missed, etc. She hasn't done it in awhile, but I just let her do that. She may just be trying to be helpful.

But a few weeks ago, I was baking cookies for Baby Bandit's graduation party. As usual I bake too many cookies, and I have to figure out what to do with them.

I had to go out to my car for something. (I parked it in the driveway instead of the garage, since I knew I would be leaving out again later for the party).

And there was my neighbor sitting on her front porch. 

I waved.

She waved back.

"Do you eat chocolate chip cookies?" I hollered.

"What?" she hollered back.

We had to holler. A train was going by. Even though the tracks are 3/4th miles away, the train horn was blaring.

"Do you eat chocolate chip cookies?" I hollered again.

She nodded real hard.

"I'm baking some. I have extra. I'll bring you some in about 15 minutes."

She gets up from her folding chair and starts dancing real hard.

I was perplexed by this. Cookies are cookies. Even though you all seem to love my cookies so much. Cookies are still cookies. No need to get all excited.

Well, I went in the house. When the next batch of cookies were ready, I let them cool. And then I packed a small tin of 10 cookies for my neighbor. When I went back outside to give them to her, she was not sitting on her front porch.

And you know me... I was NOT going to walk up to her house and knock on her door. Nope.

So I went back in the house. I peeked out my front door a couple of times, but that was about as good as it gets.

Now I told her I'd have some cookies for her in 15 minutes. And hey, if you snooze, you lose. Period.

Some 45 minutes later there was knock at my door.

I open it, and it's my neighbor.

"I had cookies for you," I said. "But I didn't see you outside."

She frowned. "Cookies?"

"Yes, cookies," I replied. "Chocolate chip cookies."

"Aww dang!" she hollered. "I thought you said you was making fried green tomatoes!"


How on earth do you get "fried green tomatoes" out of "chocolate chip cookies?

"Uh, no. No tomatoes here," I said.

I could tell she was disappointed. Her mouth must have been set for some fried tomatoes. But that wasn't going down. I don't remember the last time I fried up some good tomatoes, and I wasn't about to strart.  I handed her the tin of cookies. And I say good-bye, and I go to close the door.

And she starts going off...

Not on me, but about the local who cuts my grass.

"That Thomas! He ain't no good. I grew up with him. He done stole from people all over this neighborhood! He ain't no good!"
Oh my. She was beefing with Thomas, the man who cuts my grass. I am sure he was a mess in his hey-day, but he is an old broken down man with heart problems now. He cuts people's grass for money. If I don't cut my own grass, he cuts it. (He had issues with me last summer, though. He was a tad bit perturbed about me buying a second car. They already think I'm rich. I was super rich then, whatever the heck that means).

He doesn't give me much of a problem, though. He fusses about my car from time to time. But I don't really take someone who lives in a shed behind this dude Rat Cheeze's house all that serious. My sister Kentucky gave him 2 dollars to clean up some leaves but he walked off and didn't do it. So you know Kentucky aint' dealing with him anymore. I told her he is homeless, a hustler, and he hustles, with his old self. Don't expect much honesty out of him.

(I'm still trying to figure out who this "Rat Cheeze" dude is. Haven't met him yet. I wanna know why his Mama call him that name).

Anyway, my neighbor is going OFF about this guy.

"I grew up with Thomas! He ain't no damn good! Blah blah blah!"

All this noise, I thought. Goodness.

And I barely can make out what she is saying, as she's missing most of her teeth.

"He's a halfway decent guy," I said. "He cuts my grass and that's all I can ask."

She keeps going off. I have to hear about how our street use to be apartments. And how her family owned their house for the last 50 years. And she had to see all these new houses built up.

Goodness. This was too much noise going on. I mean, she had the neck rolling going on and the finger pointing. Wow.

Then she start going in on Thomas again. I still don't know what the beef is. And she gives him plates of food from time to time.

"Well, just pray for him," I said. "That's all you can do."

That's what I do when folks are tripping. I ask God to help me deal. And help me see where I am messing up, for maybe I'm the problem. If not, then help me out of the situation, or to find some peace in the midst of it or the courage to walk away from the situation.

WHY did I even say anything about prayer!?

Oh my. She REALLY goes off then.  "God gonna get him. That's why he got heart problems. God getting him back for all those years he done did wrong. No prayer for him. God gonna GIT HIM!"

I wondered in those few moments about my health issues. Was God getting back at me for things?  For all the wrong I've done all my life?

I think not. I rebuke that. I don't receive that. No way, no how. TOOO much answered prayer goes on over my way. I wasn't going to let her words have me... wondering and wandering.

"You have a nice house," she said, as she tried her best to look past me and all around. "You take good care of your house here, don't you?"

I pulled the door closer and tighter toward my body. She didn't need to see inside my house. And she shoulda known good and well that she wasn't getting invited in. No ma'am.

(She told my sister in past that she cleaned houses, and that she would clean ours. I told my sister, if I come home and that chick is my house, she gotta leave. And then you (my sister), had to leave too.

"Well, I have to finish the cookies. I have to go to this party, and I don't want to be late," I finally said.

"Alright," she said.

And she was still talking... all the way down the porch steps. I think she was talking to herself.

I closed the front door.

I couldn't believe that I had been exposed to THAT much concentrated negativity in the span of 5 minutes. It almost made me regret offering her some cookies. But my need to sow some good seed daily overrides my feelings.

It is this woman's habit to behave this way. It was a part of her personality, and one of her many characteristics. Now I understood why she was constantly cussing and fussing every one out. That's just who she is.

My pastor gave a good sermon some years ago on the subject of personal development. He said whoever you are at the time, it took some time to get that way. People have the characteristics, personalities, and habits they have because those characteristics, personalities and habits developed over time. And over a span of years, these things become strongly developed, whether negative or positive.

 I remember thinking at the time, in my 30s, that I would like to develop in compassion. I would like to develop in selflessness. I would like to be a happy person. I would like to develop in kindness. There were many things that I wanted developed in my life.

"If you want to develop in something," my pastor said, "decide on it and get on the path to it. Find some Word on it. Go do some reading up on it. Listen to whatever you can concerning it.  It takes time. But it will happen."

And for the first time in a long time, that sermon came back to me. Sure, it was at least a 10-year-old sermon, but I will always remember it, especially in light of the fact that I had just experienced a high dosage of negativity. It shocked me. And I have made a big move over the past year to remove myself from any negativity. And as a result, I can see my own negativity better. And I can step up and deal with it.

And I can see, and appreciate, how much I have changed. And how I have developed in the positive things I want to develop in. I still have far to go... but I am on my way.

I told my sister about the "Cookie, Tomatoes and Thomas" conversation.

"She still up in that house? Is she still cussing everybody out?"

"Yes," I said.

"She cuss out everybody. Even the children and the dog. Just everybody."

"Yep. That's just her way," I said.

Yes. That's her way.

I didn't hear much of anything from my neighbor.

I drive by.

I wave.

She smiles.

She waves back.

One day she asked me to take her to the gas station to get some gas for her lawnmower. I told her that I had to go to my writing class. She kept harping.

Wrong thing to do with me. But I took her anyway. And little 4 year old granddaughter rode along.

I already wrote about all this. It was a most disturbing ride. Even the little girl was loud. When I asked her her name, I repeated it back to her wrong. She screamed her name loudly to correct me. Oh my. And she as touching my papers in the back seat. And she grabbed my fresh new copy of Josephine Garner's Solomon's Blues! *screech*

I just didn't want to be late to my writing class. I took them, and came on back.

"How much I owe you for taking me?" she asked.

"Nothing. Don't worry about it."

She was so happy. She grabbed my hand and kissed it profusely.

*ladylee screaming on the inside*

She and her granddaugher got out of the car.

"Slam the door extra hard, baby," I said to the little girl. "So you can make sure it's shut good."

She did as I said.

Another granddaughter, a teenage girl, came out and said "Thank you for the cookies. They were all pretty in the little tin, and they were so good."

"You're welcome, honey," I said.

And I was on my way. I even made it to my class 30 minutes early.

That night I wrote in my gratitude journal "I am thankful that I had the fortitude to help my neighbor today, even though I didn't want to help."

Yes, I am growing. It's like walking from Georgia to California. It's a slow long haul, but I am getting there.

One day I will arrive to the place I want to be.

Yes I will.


  1. LMAOOOOOOOOO!!! You have NO idea how much I needed to read this. Today has been one for the record books and I was down in the dumps. Reading this post made me laugh SO HARD that 1. I almost choked and 2. Mt Dew came flying out of my noise. One of my coworkers thought I was really choking and wanted to give me first aid x_x . I can "hear" you telling me this story in your voice and it makes it even funnier. Lawd-t!

    P.S. I cannot deal w/ loud folk either!

    1. It is horrid to be standing in the kitchen and hear all of that hollering. Goodness.

  2. Yes, you will get your blessings, because I have done the same thing before and then thanked God for finding something positive out the moment.

    1. I am just glad for some moments where I am seeing a little personal growth.

  3. Hey, you know that my cuzzin and 'em done there! LOL!

    I am glad you were able to deposit some sunshine to them on more than one occasion.

    "If you want to develop in something," my pastor said, "decide on it and get on the path to it. Find some Word on it. Go do some reading up on it. Listen to whatever you can concerning it. It takes time. But it will happen." I think I am going to print this out and put it on the next vision board AND in my classroom. I am going to a new school where some of the teachers don't think the kids (i.e. our kids) can learn. So you know I have a point to prove.

  4. Fried Green Tomotaoes vs Cookies Lee your neighbor kinda of silly.

    I like to read about the ways you tie lessons in regular conversations. Have you ever did a post on how to be a blessing without being used?

    You know that one person that always has a sob story and you feel bad for them only to later realize that they still owe you and you don't hear from them until the next time they need again but you feel bad for not helping them but mad cause they still owe you. lol

  5. You sew good seeds. I am like you I don't like noise and drama. And a person cussing a folks all the time would wreck my nerves.

    She danced the jig off what she thought were fried tomatoes. Wow! LOL.

  6. I want to be just like that old lady when I grow up. I want to be that old guy that curses people out while rocking back and forth in his rocking chair.

    Every neighborhood needs an old dude like that.

    1. Reggie!!! You're ALREADY like that!!

  7. How did she get fried green tomatoes from you saying cookies. lol

    I can't with loud people. Never could deal with them.

    And I'm with Moe. That would be a great post.

  8. I am with all of y'all with the loud talkers. I have to get ghost. I cannot do it. You are awesome to be able to analyze and see the lessons within. Maybe one day...

  9. She knew you didn't say nothing bout no fried green tomatos...she was trying to jedi mind trick you. i'm glad you didn't fall for the okey-doke.

    i'm kind of loud myself but I'm trying to turn it down.


Slap the *crickets* out the way, kindly step up to the mike, and SAY something!!