There's this older man who, for the last couple of years has driven by me and warned me of various things. Constantly. He is the Warning Older Man of Doom. Examples:
1) I am walking Lily along the street. I hear a car slow beside me. It is the older man, and he says "You HAVE to be CAREFUL on THIS road." I nod solemnly, smile appreciatively, he drives away, I keep walking. This has happened 12 times.
2) I am walking Lily in the woods near the farm. We meet the older man driving along the road that winds through the farm. He rolls down his window and says "You HAVE to be CAREFUL in THESE woods. I come here to watch the coyotes." I nod solemnly, smile appreciatively, he drives away, I keep walking...rapidly. This has happened twice. When I ask the farmer about the coyotes, he says, "What coyotes?"
3) I am shoveling snow. I hear a car slow beside me. It is the older man, and he says "You HAVE to be CAREFUL shoveling snow. People DIE from that." I nod solemnly, smile appreciatively, he drives away. I keep shoveling snow. This has happened once.
Frankly, he spooks me a little but I've gotten used to our little warning/nodding routine over time.
Anyway, last week, I was walking Lily and my mind was full of this report I was writing. I'd been up since 3:00 a.m. and I was composing stuff in my head as I walked (it wasn't good stuff, I was having a hard time writing the report). I heard a car slow beside me. It was the older man and for the 13th time he said, "You HAVE to be CAREFUL on THIS road," and this time he parked his car in the middle of the road and waited for an answer.
My head was full of the report. I rallied. "Yes!" I cried, "Everybody drives very fast on this road!" And that's about all I had to say. Except he wasn't done. "Everybody except ME," he replied. And, he waited for my answer. Parked in the middle of the road that everybody drives very fast on (except him). Waiting.
Quickly, I struggled for something else to say...something complimentary. "Good for you!" "Thank you for that!" "I sure do appreciate that!" and "Bless your heart!" (for some reason) all flitted through my mind along with the first few lines of the report that I'd been trying to work through.
So, let's recap the convo and see what actually came out of my mouth.
Warning Older Man of Doom: "You HAVE to be CAREFUL on THIS road."
Me: "Yes! Everybody drives very fast on this road!"
Warning Older Man of Doom: "Everybody except ME."
Me: "That's because we love you!"
Yes: Which makes no sense no matter how you dice it. Full-on disconnect between brain and tongue. The older man just nodded knowingly and drove off. I really wish he had stayed parked there in the middle of the road for just a couple more super-dangerous seconds so I could have had a chance to edit my blurt-out. Instead, he peeled off and I was left muttering, "That is to say...I mean, I mean, I mean..."
I was very embarrassed. My tongue gets tied like that every once in awhile when I'm thinking deeply about something else. I tried to think of a couple of silver linings like, "Maybe he's deaf!" and "Maybe he didn't hear me!" and "Oh, good. Now he won't warn me about stuff, he'll warn people about me--the girl with strange syntax who has declared her love for him!"
Once again, my elderly neighbor next door has solved the problem for me, however. I was talking to him this weekend. I found myself blurting out, "Who the heck is that guy in the big white vehicle who I see on the road all the time? He keeps warning me about stuff. What's that all about?"
He looked up at me, nodded slowly, and said: "That's Bobby Oak. Bobby Oak is a cuckoo clock.*"
I peppered him with follow-up questions, "How? How is Bobby Oak a cuckoo clock! C'mon! Tell me!" But, all he would do is say that Bobby Oak is a cuckoo clock.
So, all is cool. Bobby Oak is a cuckoo clock. This cancels out the embarrassment of my blurt-out moment. And, for the record, my neighbor categorizes people in the following way: a son of a bitch (male), a sketch (male), a hot shit (male), a hot ticket (female). "Cuckoo clock" was a new one and it's not good. You don't want to be called a cuckoo clock by my elderly neighbor. He is not a demonstrative man, but he made a slightly disapproving squinchy face when he said it. Not good.