Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Water Fight

I got into a water-fight with my neighbor, Big-Buckle-Mike, and I think he still might be harboring a grudge. Mike has a Fu Manchu mustache (a mere forty years behind the trend) and wears belt buckles large enough on which to fry a trout, hence the nickname, Big-Buckle-Mike.

The water-fight began by accident. It was a sweltering hot day and I was watering my bushes, and Mike was walking to his SUV (a Big SUV, of course, a special edition called the Outta-My-Way). A chipmunk ran across my foot, causing me to lose control of the hose and accidentally squirt Mike. I immediately apologized, but he said nothing, just walked back to his house and returned with a garden hose with a Big Nozzle attached and began squirting me. I, of course, had a small sensible nozzle, but was not to be bullied by Mike's late night TV super-sized contraption. So the fight was on, and at the end we were both soaked right through to our skivvies. Mike's buckle was wet and both sides of his Fu Manchu were dripping, so he threw down the hose and stormed back into his house.

Reflecting on this, I think there was a philosophical difference in our waters. My water was the playful, summer-fun, gotcha-water, the running through the sprinkler kind. I'm pretty sure Mike's water was the kind that was sprayed on protesters in the 1960's to keep them at bay. It was an angry water, filled with contempt and get outta-here crab apples.

I'd like to smooth things over but am not sure how to proceed. He once called me a tree-huggin' peacenik, and my thanking him for his keen powers of observation didn't exactly ameliorate the situation; in fact it escalated into a sour-faced-sneer from Mike whenever we happened to meet. Over time, the sneers gradually gave way to his casual, post-office-wanted-poster look.

It actually seemed like our relationship was improving when, not long ago, he opened up to me while explaining his methods for beating the slot machines in Las Vegas. I forget the exact procedure, but it was scientifically akin to keeping your fingers crossed when telling a lie. We probably won't ever be close friends, which was never more evident than when he refused to attend our Liza Minnelli yard party, but I'd like to at least keep things on a mannerly basis.

My plan is to begin the peace process by blaming the chipmunks for everything. I'll say something like, "Let's not let a chipmunk drive a wedge between us." Then I will make a point to compliment Mike and his family on their new tattoos. It must have been family night at the tattoo parlor, as Mike's wife, Margie, and both adult children are sporting new, very elaborate tattoos. I'm going to praise them for their wisdom, impeccable taste, and thoughtfulness for making their bodies easy to identify in case of a terrible accident. They claim the tattoos are tribal characters identifying them as warriors, but I'm pretty sure no one in the family speaks any kind of tribal anything, so for all they know their new ink could identify them as Parcheesi cheaters.

If this doesn't work, I'm going to bake cupcakes with a cigarette stuck in the top of each one, like a candle, and present them on a crepe paper-decorated platter. The entire family enjoys the stylish pastime of smoking, so this is more than a gratuitous treat. It's dessert and a cigarette rolled into one thoughtful gift.

Peace and harmony is not always easy to achieve, but I'm making a genuine effort.

And I've already made amends with the chipmunks for taking the blame for this fiasco by giving them a big handful of nuts. If Big-Buckle-Mike was a chipmunk, it would make things much less complicated, and then I could really like him and forget about this pretend-to-like-him charade.