Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you feel as if you’ve walked in half way through a conversation and have no clue what’s going on? This seems to happen frequently to me. Honestly, there’s times when I’m sure that drama is following me around! There’s a whole plethora of incidents that I could tell you about, but the one which immediately springs to mind happened about a year ago, and involved one of my neighbours.
On the day in question, Kitty, one of my cats was seriously ill. I had had to take her to the vets that morning to have a tumour removed from her abdomen. She came through the operation just fine and by that afternoon, she was OK to come home. Having been worried about my poor little fur baby, I hadn’t managed to sleep a lot the previous night, and this, combined with the stress of worrying how she would be throughout the operation, meant that by around three in the afternoon, I was really flagging. I saw that Kitty was comfortable and settled in her basket in the bedroom, and so I lay down on my bed and closed my eyes.
No sooner had I done so than the doorbell rang. Reluctantly, I hauled myself up off the bed and went to answer the door. There stood a man I had never seen before. He looked to be in his sixties, around 5’6”, balding and with eyes that seemed a little too closely set together. My first thought was, “OK, what are you selling?” and it was at that precise moment that things got weird.
You would imagine that if someone came to your door, their first word would be “Hello”, or perhaps they might introduce themselves. Not this guy. His first words to me were aggressive in tone and consisted of, “Come with me, I want to show you something.”
Living as I do in Belgium, you must remember that this conversation took place in Flemish. As this is my second language, I kind of thought that maybe I had misheard, so I said (in Flemish), “Sorry, but what did you say?”
He repeated, just as aggressively, “Come with me, I want to show you something.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought you said the first time” I thought. I’m still wondering who the hell this guy is, as I say, “Who are you?”
“Ha, who am I?” he scoffed, sarcastically.
“I’m being serious,” I said, getting slightly scared and pissed off in equal measure, “Who are you? I’ve never seen you before.”
“Come with me!” was his reply.
By now I’m thinking that perhaps something is getting lost in translation. Maybe it’s not him. Maybe I’m misunderstanding something. So I ask, “Excuse me, but do you speak English?”
“I don’t have to speak English!” he said (in English), and then looking me up and down added, “How long have you lived here?”
By now I’m more annoyed than scared, so I said, “What the f**k is your problem?”
If I thought the conversation was weird now, it was about to get weirder, as he said, “My problem is there’s shit on my table!”
At this point, my husband came home from work. Before the guy had a chance to speak, I told my husband what had happened and how the conversation had gone. My husband looked at the guy very calmly and said “Who are you and why do you think it’s OK to speak to my wife like that?”
It turned out that the guy was called René and he was our neighbour. The fact that we had lived in our house for four years and never seen him, shows how sociable he is. As to his problem…well, it transpired that a cat had thrown up a fur ball on his patio table, he thought it was cat poo, and, more to the point, was convinced that it was one of my cats that was responsible. My husband explained to him that (A) we aren’t the only people in the street who have cats and (B) there are numerous stray cats in the area, one of which “is in your garden right now!”
Eventually, René’s wife came out of their house and seemed more than a little embarrassed at the conduct of her husband. She apologised profusely and led him away.
Fast forward a few days and after speaking to several of my other neighbours, I discovered that René is disliked by everyone in the street, primarily because he struts around and speaks to people as if he owns the damned place. So when, a few days later, he had the temerity to wave and smile at me, I looked him up and down, but refused to smile or otherwise acknowledge him.
After all, if you entertain a clown you become part of the circus!