On the street I grew up on, there were oak trees the sunshine would flicker across, so gloriously in the summertime they would be scorched red when autumn came. One of these oaks resided in the sea-sized shade of some lady who lived across the road from us, a crone of trifling memory whose name escapes me. I will not attempt to chase it.
I don’t really remember her, but I do remember hearing stories about her. She was said to have loved dogs and hated people, especially, as my dad liked to remind us, children. But apparently, he forgot all about our reclusive neighbor’s intense dislike of singing and laughter and all things remotely pleasant the day me, my three sisters, and about ten friends were playing “Tickle Tickle Tee” with Dad on the trampoline.
“Tickle Tickle Tee” involved jumping aimlessly about like fireflies released from a jar. Dad would be butt-bouncing and crushing our hopes of balance the second his toes hit the ground, pushing us and tickling us with all his might. Dad was a strong, decibel-disconscious New Yorker whom my mother at once adored and resented.
She never showed up on the trampoline to play Tickle Tickle Tee with us. Her place was more in ordering the pizzas we’d be devouring in mass quantities at the end of the day.
Anyway, this obscure neighbor of ours showed up, her frizzy bottle-red hair visible through the tops of our cracked old picket fence. And she screeched words that I’ll never forget, words that define most of my dad’s life to this day:
“I’M CALLING THE CO-O-O-PS!!!!”