Breaking Bread Is Better Than Breaking Bonds

, , , , | Hopeless | July 20, 2017

In the late 90s, a couple from Iran moves in next door to my parents. They’re very friendly people, although a bit shy and the wife initially didn’t speak much English. While they both wear traditional Western clothes, they are practicing Muslims. Most of the neighborhood is white and at least nominally Christian, and none of the other neighbors are Middle Eastern or Muslim. But no one cares and the couple settles right in, and the other families in the neighborhood are happy to throw a baby shower for them when the wife is pregnant. She is so touched she cries happy tears, explaining that she felt so accepted and loved.

In the days following September 11, 2001, several of the neighbors were standing out on the sidewalk talking, trying to process the terror attacks. My dad notices that he hasn’t seen the next-door neighbors. He walks to their door and knocks. The husband answers. (The husband is about five-foot three and the wife even smaller. My dad is six-foot two; only one other man in the neighborhood is taller.) The neighbor looks a little nervous.

Dad greets the neighbor and explains that a bunch of people just felt like talking, and he and his wife were welcome to join if they want. The neighbor declines, and Dad reassures him that no one is mad at him or his wife or thought they are terrorist or sympathizers. He says, “If you don’t blame me for Timothy McVeigh, I won’t blame you for the terrorists.” The neighbor still stays home, but is relieved.

They’re still my parents’ next-door neighbors, and still very nice people. I have kids myself now, and the neighbors have given them carte blanche to pick any of the flowers in their front yard (and the flowers are incredible; the most gorgeous roses I’ve ever seen) and often give them Christmas presents. I’m going to visit my parents tomorrow, and since Ramadan is over, I have a loaf of (Halal-friendly) bread baking in the oven to bring the neighbors.

Ferreting Around For Some Good Parenting

, , , , | Hopeless | July 6, 2017

(I often take my very tame, very friendly female ferret out on her lead to get some fresh air. I mostly get a lot of strange looks but for some reason people with small children act like ferrets are awful, vicious creatures that carry all kinds of disease. On my walk one day a young woman is walking along with a little girl, about three years old. I brace myself for the worst.)

Girl: “Mummy! Mummy, what’s that animal?!”

Girl’s Mother: *laughing* “That’s a ferret, sweetie!”

Girl: “Awwww, so cute!”

(I pause for a moment a few steps away from them, mostly out of shock, and a little bit because I’m used to people wanting to skirt me and my ferret in the street.)

Girl: “Can I pat it, mummy? So cuuuuuute!”

Girl’s Mother: “Remember we don’t touch other people’s pets without asking; they might get scared, or they might not like kids.”

Me: *still slightly stunned* “This one does. She plays with my nephews all the time. She can pat her if she wants to.”

Girl’s Mother: “Oh, thank you!”

(The mother kneels down and keeps telling her daughter, “Now, gentle! Don’t scare her; nice and soft,” and stopping her daughter from touching my ferrets face. The little girl is over the moon and incredibly sweet and gentle, giggling like crazy as my loveable lump of a ferret sniffs her and revels in the attention.)

Girl’s Mother: “Thank you so much. She LOVES animals.”

Me: “It’s no problem at all. Most parents yank their kids away like my ferret might set them on fire.”

Girl’s Mother: *screws up face* “How stupid! Our guinea pig has probably bitten more people than this little guy.”

(After a quick chat I learned they’d just moved in up the street from me and they were walking to the park down the block. Almost every afternoon for the next several months we met up along the same patch of sidewalk and the little girl would pat my ferret, and the mum and I would chat for a bit. When my ferret finally passed away last month of old age, they met up with me the next day with a card and a box of chocolates, and an adorable drawing of my ferret done by my tiny toddler friend. All it took was one person realising my ferret was not a danger to her kid for me to gain two wonderful friends.)

Things With The Neighbours Have Become Heated

| USA | Friendly | March 7, 2017

My mom had a black lab as a kid in the 1980s. This being the 1980s, people don’t know what we know now about pet care, so it is perfectly acceptable to leave a dog chained up in the yard unsupervised for long periods of time. My mom’s parents are no exception in spite of the dog being a master escape artist, and they find a moderately sized, sturdy tree to tie the dog to every afternoon that seems to keep the dog from escaping.

My mom’s neighbor is also no exception, with their purebred golden retriever. Since the neighbors like to participate in dog shows, they aren’t allowed to get the dog fixed and so have to contend with heat (which is essentially dog mating periods and very messy, painful, and loud). Not wanting a big mess in the house, they just chain the dog up outside until heat ends.

This catches the attention of pretty much every male dog in the neighborhood, but due to being kept chained up, they aren’t able to act on desire. That is, until my mom’s lab figures out how to use the friction from moving the chain up and down to saw down the tree and escape. He comes back home after a few hours.

And that’s the story of how the purebred show golden retriever gave birth to a litter of black puppies. The neighbors refuse to speak with my mom’s family after that, but apparently take a lesson and keep the dog indoors when she is in heat. So do my grandparents, who chain the dog to an anchor fit for a barge.

That’s not the end of it. A few months after the incident, my grandmother wakes up to find the outside door open and screen door torn to pieces. She initially assumes a robbery occurred and calls my grandfather in a panic. Upon realizing that nothing has been stolen, they figure out that the lab escaped. So, my grandfather goes out to search for the dog.

He eventually found the lab outside the neighbor’s house. It turns out the neighbor’s golden was once again in heat, and gave doggy encouragement throughout as the lab tried to claw through the wall shingle by shingle, in a manner that was slow but effective without injuring him or even damaging the shingles that much. Horrified, my grandfather grabbed him, took him home, and hastily tried to stick the lost shingles back on the house to the best of his ability. In all likelihood, though, the neighbors knew and any hope of reconciliation was lost.