Naked Ladies

Well, YOU know the kind I’m talking about!

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY TIM FOLEY

There was a big commotion next door the other evening. That struck me as odd. Just minutes before, I’d had a pleasant enough conversation with my new neighbor in the checkout line at the grocery store. I’d met her and her husband a few days earlier when I went over with a fresh hummingbird cake. They’re a young couple from the city. He’d just become the new volleyball coach at the high school. I’m not sure of her job, but I’ve noticed her leaving the house early some mornings in a business suit carrying an overnight bag, so I guess it involves a fair amount of travel.

When I showed up on their doorstep and handed them the cake, they exchanged puzzled glances. Surely they knew there are no actual hummingbirds in a hummingbird cake!

Anyway, it was late afternoon when we were in line at the store, she in front of me holding two takeout dinners from the Chinese Express. She looked a little road weary in her heels and rumpled business suit. Trying to perk her up a bit, I said cheerily, “I noticed the naked ladies in your backyard last night.” “Excuse me?” she said. “Oh, I just so admire their beautiful long, bare legs and how they dance in those dainty, little pink skirts. I hope you don’t mind me peeking over the fence—I just couldn’t resist!”

“I noticed the naked ladies in your yard last night,” I said cheerily.

Jeannie, working the checkout, nodded in agreement with me as she scanned and bagged. My neighbor didn’t reply, but her expression darkened. I thought, “Oh, no! I hope she doesn’t take a spade to those lovely ladies!” Before I could say another word, she paid, grabbed her bag, and practically ran through the automatic sliding doors at the exit. Jeannie and I shook our heads,

both wondering what’d gotten her so agitated. “City folks!” we muttered. “No appreciation for natural beauty.”
A few minutes later, I was home unpacking my groceries when I heard harsh, angry words from next door. Clearly the new neighbors were having a heated argument. The husband’s voice waxed and waned, apparently trailing her from room to room: “Baby, stop and listen to me! I have no idea what you’re talking about! I swear there’ve been no girls here while you were gone!” This was followed by a sonic-boom door slam.

Since then, it’s been pretty quiet over there. In fact, it’s been really, really quiet, as in “extended silent treatment” quiet—if you get my drift. In the meantime, I’ve been able to enjoy the flirty belladonna lilies (or amaryllis or whatever) in their backyard to my heart’s content. Thank goodness she didn’t take a spade to them! She probably got distracted by their big fight that night.

I’m just glad I wasn’t a part of that! I so want to be a good neighbor and get along.

OK, OK, I admit it, this never happened. I made it all up. But, you admit it, when you see a flower called naked ladies, doesn’t your imagination start to…?

This article was published originally in 2020, in GreenPrints Issue #120.


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