In less than a week, my best friend Casey is getting married. Her husband-to-be is a real-life Scotsman- though he spends a disappointing amount of time not wearing a kilt. What he lacks in stereotypical Scottish-ness, he makes up in being a good human being. Right from the beginning, I knew he was a good egg—and it wasn’t just because he cooked up a mean medium-rare, glazed steak, in a shameless attempt to get the best-friend-seal-of-approval. (I mean, obviously, that scored him a lot of bonus points). He genuinely makes Casey happy. In honor of their wedding, I will not share my embarrassing stories of Adam—but instead go back to one of my earliest memories of Casey. Now you may recall that Casey and I bonded for life over an “illicit bear exchange” down in New Zealand. However, few people know that there was an earlier bear precedent that cemented our general friendship.
Connecticut, July 2005
Back in high school, Casey had a little tradition of calling me when she left her house and above five minutes before she arrived at my house. I’m not sure when it started, or even why it started, but those two phone calls always let me know that she had safely made the twenty minute drive between our two houses.*This particular day was no different. Fifteen minutes after her initial departure, I got the call:
“Hels, I’m just about to hit your street. See you soon.”
Dutifully I stopped my project—burning Aheli’s Awesome Summah Mix, V2 featuring hit songs like Pon de Replay—and got ready. No sooner had I hit the eject button when I heard my doorbell ring.
Now there is a pretty standard procedure for ringing a doorbell. One presses the doorbell once, allows it to finish ringing, and then waits ten to fifteen seconds before pressing again. This allows the occupant to drop everything, rush to the door, and still have enough time to pretend that they’ve just strolled, casually, to the door. Casey’s blatant disregard this doorbell etiquette translated into a long, drawn-out assault on my ears.
“Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnngg” went my door bell “Ring Ring Ring Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnggg”
I took her incessant ringing as a challenge. The more she rang, the slower my pace down the stairs. With each step, I felt sure that I was helping Casey to learn the value of very crucial ten to fifteen second delay. Why I was truly selfless helping a friend learn such a staple of humanity! Feeling immensely proud of myself, I reached for the door. No sooner had the handle turned down when Casey flung open the door, screaming:
“BEEEEEEAAAAAAAARRRRRRRR. CHILDREN IN THE STREET” and took off like a mad hatter.
I read through her subtle bellow and followed her, barefoot, to her tiny four person silver Jetta. With great gusto, we took off from my driveway, picking up speed and a bit of air on the bumps as we flew off to rescue to the children.
Now I need to interrupt the story to give you a bit details on my neighborhood. At the time, we lived on at the end of a cul-de-sac, on a road separating two state forests. On one side was the small mountain – waterfall included—and on the other side was protected wetland. Each house, in true rural fashion, was at least 50 feet from the actual road. While most neighbors were extremely congenial, there was one menace to the calmness of the woods.
I will refer to him in this story as Mr. Pants Too Tight, or Mr. PTT for short.Now Mr. PTT was a very large man who spent an unnecessary amount of time in five-sizes too small 70s jogging outfits. Perhaps due to the lack of circulation in his nether-regions, Mr. PTT was always extremely angry. Months after moving to the neighborhood, he pulled my father over for not coming to a complete stop at the neighborhood stop sign. While my father was clearly in the wrong, it was also 4AM and he was jogging.
Anyways, back to the story. While Casey and I were speeding towards the children, who should appear, but Mr. PTT and Mrs. PTT. Angrily, he waved his arms at us, gesturing for us to slow down. Casey, being the kind human she is ignored my request to just drive by them, and stopped the car.
“There is a bear up ahead and there are kids playing near by!”
Mr. PTT pushed pass Mrs. PTT and leapt into the back seat. An incredible feat, considering he was at least five sizes larger than his jogging shorts. With two new passengers, taking up the whole back seat, we drove on in our rescue mission. We soon arrived upon the neighborhood intruder, who was inquisitively searching through some empty trashcans for some leftovers. I will say he had excellent taste as Mr. and Mrs. 205 had excellent culinary tastes and to this day I have never tasted a better meringue pie.
Across the street were three children, ranging from the terrible toddler phase to the “I just stopped believing in the tooth fairy,” a mere twenty feet from the bear. Casey rolled down her window and urged the kids to get away from the bear and into the car.
The children took one look and slowly backed away… from the silver clown car.
It was only then that I realized the utter irony of our society. Suddenly we went from brave rescuers on a valiant mission to Stranger Danger. I should never be surprised at the simplicity of children. I too once loved Paddington Bear with all my heart, however it would never occurred to me that they would elect to become Paddington’s mid-afternoon snack.
Stunned, Casey momentarily lost her voice—an impressive feat for a four-term camp counselor and renown disciplinarian of rogue children. Mr. PTT, on the other hand, had never met a situation he couldn’t yell at, made the three children and their adorable puppy climb into the back seat of the car. Leaving the bear to the leftovers, we first speed towards the children’s house, then to Mr. and Mrs. PTT, and finally headed back to my house. After calling the police to apprehend the bear-burglar, Casey turned to me and said “Well it took you long enough to answer that doorbell.”
To this day, I always answer the doorbell within a couple of rings.
* In hindsight, this may have been a bit dangerous- since calls were made while operating heavy machinery, but this is neither here nor there.