Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

I remember him.  He wasn’t human.  Whatever he was, “he” lived in the house next door.  He was referred to as “the grandfather,” and supposedly was quite sick and didn’t like noise.

Noise like young boys playing baseball in our backyard.  As soon as the ball would whizzzzzz past his window, this little bony hand would materialize and we’d hear a “thump, thump, thump” against the glass, as if to say, I’m watching you, you little heathens.  At night, we’d play capture the flag in Jimmy’s yard, and certainly there would be squeals of laughter and the noise of summer fun.  Once again, another window, same hand.  “Thump, thump, thump.”

I just knew I would go to bed one night and hear a “thump, thump, thump” against my second floor bedroom window because I was breathing too loud.

Well, guess what!!!  I’m him.  I’m pretty sure I’m human, and I do venture outside, and I don’t consider my hands all that bony.  I could never, ever go “thump, thump, thump.”  But, I know I’ve become a nuisance to the neighbor boys.

They have dirt bikes.  Boys being boys and bikes being bikes, those bikes started revving up along their backyard “track” fairly soon after school and lasted until supper time.  Trouble is, after work, Brenda and I retreat to our screened back porch, where we talk about the day’s events, listen to the TV news, and call our grandchildren.  There it was – Rev.  Rev.  Rev.  Those bikes wouldn’t let up.  Thinking about Mr. Grouchy Thump Thump, I tried to be subtle.  I coughed loudly to get their attention.  They couldn’t hear me.  The bikes were too loud.  I turned up the music.  Couldn’t hear it.  My wife really didn’t want me to get involved, since I’ve been known to be excessive sometimes.  But, I charged out the back door, feeling violated because I couldn’t enjoy the sanctity of my own back porch.

One lad, whom I’ve watched grow up said, “Hi, Bob (I taught him that and not Mr. Owen).  How are you today?”  How polite was that!  He’s a pro.  Completely disarmed me.  I backed off a bit but did ask that they stop riding for a while since we couldn’t hear anything.  Do you know what those young men did?  They stopped!   We’ve since struck a deal.  They don’t  ride in the back yard after 6 p.m.  But, they probably call me Bob the Grouch.   Here they are – polite, well raised children who just want to ride their bikes in their own yard – and the old grouch next door wants to sit on his porch and relax.  Actually, that works for me.

A night or two later, Brenda and I decided to watch a movie outside on the porch.  It was after supper, and the neighborhood was quiet.  During one scene, I went in the kitchen to get a drink of water, and when I walked away from it a bit, it shocked me how loud we had the sound. I hadn’t realized it. Two old people hard of hearing, in the sanctity of their back porch, with the sound on the movie so loud they could have heard it in Tennessee.

When I went back outside, I told Brenda, “Perhaps we should watch the rest of the movie inside.”

“Why,” she asked, “are you getting chilly?”

I laughed.  “Not cold.  Old.”  I could just hear the neighbor boys going “thump, thump, thump” on their window to quiet us down.

Date of Blog Story: 
September 23, 2009

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