But we've always gotten along just fine with her. Somehow, we've developed a symbiotic relationship. I occasionally fix things at her house or just pick up stuff that's too heavy for her; and she hangs bags of fruit from her backyard trees on our doorknob. When we're out of town, she picks up our mail and sometimes waters our plants.
One day, maybe two years ago, I went over to ask her a favor of some sort--taking care of something while we were on vacation. "Sure," she said, "but you have to promise to thank me."
I chuckled and said that of course I would thank her. I didn't really get it. She says weird stuff sometimes.
"No, really," she went on. "All those times that I got your mail, or watered your plants, or that time I gave you a ride when you lost your car keys...you've never thanked me once. Neither you or your wife." She was shaking.
I was stunned and embarrassed. And maybe a little indignant. Surely I had thanked her. My wife and I are both very conscious of basic manners. We frequently bitch about people who don't say "thanks" when we open doors for them. So I must have thanked her. Of course I did. I'm pretty sure. She's just a little batty. And demanding. Some people need you to grovel in exchange for every little favor.
Ever since that episode, I've been sure to thank Gladys at least five times when she leaves a couple lemons on my doorstep. And she, in turn, has upped the ante by giving me a bottle of wine whenever I help her out with some little household task. It's a game that I don't care to get involved in, this escalation of gratitude. Saying "thanks" is important; but, hey, we're neighbors--we watch out for each other. There's no need for theatrics.
|Weird. I never really had a craving for Skoal before.|