The following is a story about how my parents recently led me astray. Since I am half a century years old, it is beyond second nature to me to not think twice when it comes to trusting my parents on most subjects. They love me, always have my best interest at heart, and have made mostly healthy decisions for themselves and me our entire lives, so why would I ever think they even had the potential to lead me astray? This past November, much to my surprise, I found that I was hilariously wrong.
During the week of Thanksgiving when my parents traveled westward across our state to visit with us, we had planned that we would plant a few small oak trees and a handful of Rose of Sharon in our big, open back yard before the ground froze. My mom brought the most pathetic looking seedlings from their yard that all fit in one five gallon bucket, but I don't complain because she is on a mission and I don't want to upset her months long plan. Now, as I look out our back kitchen window, I see what appear to be Frosty The Snowman's dead stick arms poking out of the ground in eight different spots. The memory of my parents planting them makes me laugh.
(Wait....... I have to watch Kate McKinnon present the Carol Burnett Award for Achievement in Television to Ellen Degeneres.... Awww! If you watched that and didn't smile and ooooh a little, you're missing out on something in life, but I won't be rude enough to point out to you what that might be, in part, because I don't know what it is, but mostly because I have my own funny story to tell.)
My mom wanted me to show her where in the backyard that I wanted the future greenery that will certainly begin to show itself come springtime. Four oak trees in one spot and four Rose of Sharon elsewhere. We gathered tools from the garage, woke up my dad from the easy chair, and they made a two-person planting team. I was preparing dinner, so I had a whole different priority to focus on. I'm in the kitchen for just a handful of minutes when all of a sudden, I hear this rough, muffled, drawn out grandpa sounding voice outside. It was so loud and foreign and it didn't stop, so I peeked out of the blinds to check on my parents. Well, they were still planting, but this homeless looking fella who had a face like Popeye with no teeth was sitting in one of my wrought iron chairs from my porch facing me, but watching my parents work. He had his arms crossed and was watching them with great interest and perhaps a little bit like a kid who got away with having his hand in the candy jar. As I watched him and heard him talking loudly to my mom, I figured I'd better go out and see what was going on.
I'll take this moment to explain to you all that the sight before me really wasn't all that surprising having grown up with my parents who have lived an exemplary life together serving others with Christian charity. They have picked up strangers on the side of the road (back before we knew better), welcomed the vagabonds in church back when I was a kid and teenager in the 80's, given money to strangers, etc. My dad being a former truck driver, although a gentleman himself, was no stranger to the oddities he encountered in other truck drivers and diners who frequented truck stops, the occasional prostitute, etc. I have seen my dad deal with hostile homeless people, one of which was throwing rocks at him. My dad has a way of weeding out the crazy from the needy even when they are one and the same. Because I know this, I assumed there was a very good reason for Popeye to be sitting in my backyard at the end of November. Laughing....
As soon as I got out there, I assessed that Popeye didn't have winter clothes on and he was quite cold. I approach him, and my mom steps over and introduces us. "Christopher, this is my daughter, Windy, who lives here." Should we be telling him my name and that I live here, Mom? crosses my mind, but, knowing my overprotective mother would never introduce me to danger and would shield me from even the good people of the FBI if needed, I ignore this thought. A big toothless grin breaks out across Christopher's face, he stands up to greet me with a loud, drawn out voice kind of like a yawn, "Hello, Windy! I'm sorrrrrrrrrry!" That is the one thing he kept saying, that he was sorry for being a bother. My mom explains, "His friends left him here. He's trying to get to (insert very large city 30 miles from here). So Dad and I are going to drive him there as soon as we're done planting." Okay, so my dad is in on this, too, got it. I ask Christopher if he is cold. My mom, "Yes, do you have something warmer for him to wear? He's been out here for days." Wow. I go and get one of my larger plaid fishing shirts and an in-between type thinly lined coat of Storm's that he wears in the Spring and the Fall, but I figured he wouldn't miss it and I asked his permission anyway.
I go back outside and Christopher greets me again with, "I'm sorrrrrrrrry, Windy." And since he has a phyiscal handicap in his arms and legs that is obvious, he asks me if I can help him put the shirt on and button his sleeves. I do so with no problem whatsoever, but in the back of my head, I thought, please don't get a boner, Popeye. I don't want to be physical, but I choose to because from one human being to another, I need to gladly do this for this poor man. It's just he and me now in close proximity. The parenting planters are still planting. He says to me, "My sissssssterrrrr is a biiiig faaaaat D.A., Windy. Dumb ass! " Okay, here we go....... I tell him not to say that loudly because it would offend my parents. He assured me that he would only say it to me. Laughing. Really? And then he adds, "My sister is a stupid slut." Okay....... I shush him. My mom yells over, "He's been out here for 4 days." Immediately I worry about his hunger and before I can even take more than a few steps back toward the house to go get some food, my dad steps in as he puts one arm around me like he is going to confide in me. "Windy, I want you to go into the house and fix this man a plate of food. He hasn't eaten in 4 days." Again I am thinking, my dad must be in on this whole drive this guy 30 miles away thing and in the meantime, let's clothe him, and feed him. I get it, Dad, the one who knows weirdos from the struggling, con artist from the true blue....... Off I go into the house to do as I am told. And happily so. Christopher is hilarious and quite adorable.
I go back in and prepare a couple of things we have had for dinner the night before ........ (tonight's dinner isn't ready yet as I am still cooking it.) First, I take a thick towel and drape it over the glass table on my porch. Next, I place a matching towel on the remaining wrought iron chair. I go back in the house and prepare a plate of home made egg rolls and bring it out to the table. Christopher comes to the porch and reaches out for me to help him up because he isn't quite strong enough to do it himself. I lead him to his table and present him his food. I tell him what is being served. Christopher goes, "No," and shakes his head vigorously back and forth as he makes a face. "I don't like these, Windy. I'm sorrrrrrrry, Windy. I don't like egg rolls." Okay........ so, I bring out different food for him and he eats a little bit of it, but says he doesn't want anymore. I'm a decent cook, so something is up here. I didn't say it but I was thinking are you sure you haven't eaten for 4 days? I ask him what kind of food he likes and his answer is, "Livvvvver and onions, Windy!!!" Well, I certainly don't have any of that lying around. He tells me that his mother used to make that for him, "Everrrrry day, Wiiiiiiindy!" So, I ask him if he would like chocolate chip cookie and a cup of coffee. Not only does he say yes, but he asks if he can have a little bit of miiiiilk in it. I bring back to him what he ordered, he takes a sip of his coffee, slaps his knee as he grins really big, "Forgive my language, Wiiiiindy, but that is a daaaaaaaamn fine cup of coffee." I'm glad the man is warm and happy. I go back into the house to check on our own dinner preparations and about a minute later I hear a loud, "NOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOO!" and it's Christopher's voice. Worried about my parents' safety and wondering what the heck is going on, I hurry through the back door.
I see Christopher about 50 yards out of my yard by now, running as best as he can, and I see my mom waddling as quickly as her little legs can carry her after him, "Christopher!!!!!! We'll take you to the city!" I cannot believe my 73 year old mother is chasing a homeless man. I notice a silver van has pulled up on the side of the road that our yard butts up against. A lady comes running out of the van and yells to me, "Call the police, please! He needs to come with me. He got out of the car and ran and I couldn't find him."
So I call the police and quickly explain the situation to the best that I currently understood it. I suck when it comes to directions and my parents are arguing if it's north or south at one another. Laughing! Meanwhile, Christopher is outta there like a bat out of hell and the lady chases him with her van trying to coax him into the van and he finally gets in. I relay this information to the emergency operator and she informs me loudly, "Ma'am! Don't let them leave!" What the heck am I supposed to do, grab onto the back of the bumper as they drive back by? So I approach the van and she stops instead of driving by me. She explains he lives with her but she has to go get her kid at the next bus stop, so she has to go. I tell her the police want her to stay. She tells me to tell them to meet her at the bus stop. I look in and see Christopher in the backseat and I ask him if he is okay. He hides in the hood of Storm's coat and says he's embarrassed. She drives off. The operator is still yelling for me not to let them leave and I give her the license plate number and state of the plates. Within another minute, the police pull up, I give them the quick rundown and point out the van that is a couple hundred yards down the road by now. I hang up the phone.
I then turn around and look at my parents in disbelief. I start laughing and I say, "Mom, you were chasing him down the road! All I saw was your big fat butt waddling after him like you were going to catch him!" She's dying laughing and she said she was also yelling to him, "Christopher, it's me, Becky! We'll drive you to the city!" And that he yelled back, "Go away, Becky!" OH MY GOSH. Hilarious. Until. I look over at my father. He isn't laughing at any of it. My mom goes back to work in the yard to finish up and my dad comes in with me. He huffs out, "I wasn't taking him to the city. No way. I'll drive him to the bus station and buy him a ticket to the city if he wants, but I wasn't driving to the city." And he was on a roll. "He's not sorry! He's sorry because he was trying to pull one over on us and being a pain in the butt!" I am laughing and tell my dad, "YOU told me to make him some food, I thought you were in on all of this." He says he knows his homeless people and this one was lying. Laughing....... "I told your mother I ain't taking him to the city. He wasn't out there 4 days. Four days??? He wouldn't even eat what you were feeding him...... He wasn't sorry for nothin'! Don't tell me....."
So that's my story about Christopher. Apparently he lives with the lady in the next subdivision over from us and does not live in the big city. He was missing for about half an hour, not 4 days, and he now has my fishing shirt and Storm's jacket. "Well," I say to my dad, "Thanks for planting the oak trees." My dad says, "Oak trees? Don't tell your mother, but those aren't oak trees. Every sapling she brought is a Rose of Sharon. I told her, but she wouldn't listen to me and we fought about it when she was digging them up, so don't say anything!"
Hardly recovering from the shock that my parents were suckered into Christopher's story and then they sucked me in, I am stunned at this newest fiasco. "Don't say anything? You just dug holes in my yard where I wanted four trees and four Rose of Sharon. You knew that NONE were trees, and you planted them anyway? And I can't tell this to Mom?!!!" My dad huffs, "She'll find out what they are in the spring!" I guess we all will. My prediction is that they will remain 8 dead sticks.