The day we moved into our new house, we went through the drive-through at McDonalds for breakfast on our way from the hotel.
It was a McDonalds we’d never been to before, and it was confusing. Though it sat on a busy corner, facing three different streets, it was only accessible from one specific place, and since two of the streets were one-way only, we had to approach it several times before we finally entered the parking lot.
It was crazy busy, with lines of cars going every which direction (half of which probably circling to find the elusive exit), but eventually we found our way to the drive-through and got in line.
What we didn’t realize was that it was a drive-through with two lanes. Being good, polite Canadians, the cars were waiting in a single line until they reached the island, at which point they split off.
Then a white Beamer at least three cars behind us whipped around the line and into place behind the car currently ordering in the second lane.
I was livid. “What a dick!” I said. “That man is such a dick!”
It didn’t help that we had to sit where I could watch his smug face as he rolled down his window and ordered. The line bent just past the island, so I could still see him even two cars later — before we’d even ordered.
I have a finely tuned and powerful sense of injustice, so I kept repeating, “That man is just a dick! He’s a dick!”
Remind me, at least weekly, will you? That my children in the back seat are always listening, no matter how engrossed they seem to be in their machines.
I don’t often use crude language in front of them, so they were suitably impressed. And delighted with their new acquisition.
“What a dick!” my daughter repeated.
Fifteen. Thousand. Times.
That day alone.
For the next few days, any time someone did something inappropriate, my son would say, “He’s a dick, Mom!”
And a week later (a full and very busy week later), someone cut me off in traffic and I made some (appropriately non-crude or colorful) retort, and my daughter piped up, “Is he a dick, Mom?”
Believe me, I could not have regretted more my thoughtless interjection.
Or rather, I thought I couldn’t regret it more. I was wrong.
School started a couple of weeks after we moved in, and one day while I was home alone, I heard a noise and looked out the window to see a white Beamer drive up to the house two doors away. I hadn’t seen any sign of occupancy at that house before, but there it was: a white Beamer exactly like the one driven by that dick at McDonalds.
There are hundreds of white Beamers in the city, so what are the odds that one of our neighbors has one? I thought it was hilarious.
That night at dinner, I told my husband about the car. “Wouldn’t it be funny,” I said, “if that dick was our neighbor?!”
My precious, innocent, beautiful girl piped up right on cue. “He’s a dick!”
We all laughed (though my laugh was more than a little uncomfortable).
Yeah. You totally know where this is going.
A couple of days later, I happened to be outside when he drove up in his white Beamer and …
If I wrote this in my fiction, ya’ll would scream that it wasn’t believable. I mean, really, what are the odds???
Yeah. Our new neighbor … was … the dick.
And because I never learn, I mentioned it at dinner that night. Yes, I am an idiot.
“Our neighbor is the dick?” my son asked.
And my precious, untouched little cherub of a daughter chimed in, “He’s a dick, Mom!”
*painfully weighty sigh*
So awkward. Some day, we’re going to actually meet this man, and I could just see my kids sticking out their hands for a polite shake and saying, “Are you the dick?”
That could not happen, not in our lovely new neighborhood where we are surrounded by wonderful people like Catherine next door, Ellanna across the street, and Rick in the house next to Elanna. Something had to change.
Mars and I began a systematic retraining. Whenever we wanted to refer to the dick, we called him “Richard.”
And whenever I got cut off in traffic, I would say, “That man is such a Richard!”
Thank the merciful good Lord in heaven, it worked.
My children began calling him “Richard” instead of “the dick.” In fact, no one has breathed the word “dick” in our house for a couple of months now.
When we eventually meet him, if they slip and ask if he’s Richard, I can just turn innocently to them and say, “No, honey. Rick’s the other neighbor.”
Yes, I am very clever, thank you.
At least, when I’m not being an utter idiot.
Fast forward. A couple of weeks ago, I was having trouble with our internet. I tried restarting my computer first, of course, but that didn’t work.
As luck would have it, I had my computer upstairs on the far end of the house, nearest to our neighbor with the Beamer and as far as one can get from the kitchen, where I originally set up the Wi-Fi to log on automatically.
I clicked the drop-down menu to see if I could fix the Wi-Fi by choosing it manually and saw a list of four or five Wi-Fi signals, all of them locked.
The last signal on the list was named …
Go ahead. Guess. You’re never gonna believe it. I couldn’t write this in fiction.
Our neighbor’s wi-fi was named …