Last summer, I was in my backyard when the neighbor lady came out, and we started chatting over the fence.
It was not the best time for this, because I really, really had to fart, and neighbor lady is known to go on and on and on. (We used to have a beagle that would actually roll his eyes at her.)
So I’m smiling and nodding at her while simultaneously trying to ascertain if this impending fart would be a silent one or one that could knock a squirrel out of a tree.
It was a hot day, so the air conditioner was running, and the outside compressor is noisy, so I’m thinking that between its noise, a brisk breeze rustling through the trees, and the chattering of the birds, I’ve got some sonic cover.
So I let it rip.
Of course, that’s exactly when the AC kicked off, the wind died down, and the birds went mute.
“Did you hear a duck?” asks the neighbor lady, incredulously. There was excitement in her voice, because we don’t have ducks. We’re in the middle of a duckless city. “That sounded like a duck,” she says, as she’s looking around.
I should have said, “No, I didn’t hear anything at all.” Instead I said, “Huh. That’s weird.”
Now I can’t just stand there while she’s searching her yard like she’s hot on the trail of Bigfoot, so I have to start looking around my yard for a duck I know doesn’t exist, and there is no search more thorough than a fake search. The person at the office who accidentally shredded the Higgins file yesterday will be the person pulling the filing cabinets away from the wall today because “It has to be here somewhere.”
So I’m peering behind the AC unit, moving the ivy around with my foot, and looking up in the trees (and I don’t think ducks perch in trees, but the fake search knows no boundaries).
I then make the mistake of bending over to check behind the hydrangea bush.
“There it goes again!” she exclaimed as, just out of her line of sight, a squirrel tumbled from a tree.
I rolled my eyes.
“Well, I have to go inside now,” I say, “but let me know if you find it.”
“I’m going to check the yard on the other side of me,” she says. “I’ll be sure to let you know.”
As I enter my kitchen, I say to my wife, “We have to buy a duck for the backyard.” When she asks why, I explain to her what had just happened.
“Then you may want to pick one up for the bedroom, too,” she responds.
Note: A slightly different version of this tale appeared on my blogspot blog a few years ago, but if you can’t steal from yourself, who can you steal from?