Friday, October 23, 2009

What Th' ??

This happened fourteen years ago, and I still haven't figured it out.

Many years out of high school, I ran into a former teacher. It became one of those things where I saw her at the mall and at a restaurant and a gas station and so we started chatting. Many of my memorable high-school escapades had taken place in her classroom (The Baloney Sandwich Toss among them) so we had a lot of laughs to catch up on. She was all alone in the world except for her father. She had been married but I don't know what happened there. She lived near us, and Peggy said I ought to help her out, so I would go over and haul old junk to the dump, fix this, move that, sort of thing. She would call when she needed my help and I would show up and help. The house was one of those houses where only one person lives and the entire place took on an eerie aura...odd pictures on the walls, one mug on the mug tree, and so forth.

Right before Halloween '95 she asked if I could haul some furniture that she had been keeping for her father over to the retirement home he was about to occupy. I said sure, I'm off Tuesday and Wednesday; what is best for you? She said Tuesday would be best, and I said OK, call me Monday evening and let me know what time you want me to come by. I even pointed out that we would not be home Monday evening, but would look for a message on the phone when we got home. That Monday being the night before Halloween, we went out to dinner and had to load up on candy in a major way. (Our old neighborhood had veritable brigades of kids dropped off by minivan moms and dads to round up candy.) We stockpiled Smarties, added up Almond Joys and rounded up Reese's Cup (inexplicably, then as now, called "Reesie's" Cups. I don't know why.)

When we got home, the phone was blinking as furiously as a Derby winner coming down the homestretch while dislodging flies. There were no fewer than six messages. The first was bland ("Hi Mark, it's ______, just wanted to talk to you about tomorrow......") and by the sixth, it sounded like a Kathy Bates movie or something ("Mark, I know you're there and now you just don't want to pick up the phone. Well, I never thought that you would turn out to be so unreliable! I depended upon you to get my father's bureau and desk over to (senior residence) tomorrow and now I guess I'm just going to have to call a mover! I'm sorry that you thought it was OK to just let me down..." And on and on and rant and rave.

Total time elapsed between the first and sixth call was about two hours, like 6 - 8 PM. It was just after 9 when I picked up the phone, and called, and told her answering machine that I didn't know what the misunderstanding was, but I was to be off work the next two days and if she needed me still, to call.

And I never heard from her again.