I learned something new about our sleepy little town recently. There's a lot more than just sleeping going on around here. Our neighbours across the way are getting ready to put their house up for sale which is very sad because they are the reason we moved on to this street. They moved up from the city a year before us and when we started looking for a house they told us the one across the street was for sale so we bought it. But they have decided to cash out before interest rates rocket skyward. So we and the neighbours behind them are faced with the prospect of a new family moving in and potentially cutting off the kids path to school, not to mention the fact that their deck gets the sun the longest in the evening and they always open their pool first. So Betty (not her real name, of course) and I have started putting out the word to a select group that we will be taking applications to become our new in-between neighbours. The selection process is rigorous and includes being able put up with kids, dogs and adults traipsing through the yard at all hours; having lots of cold beverages ready in the afternoon; and enjoying backyard showings of the Stanley Cup and other major television events.
I quite naively mentioned the house to a woman I knew from school who said she and her family were looking to move into town so that their kids weren't stuck on the bus for two hours morning and afternoon. She was very interested but when I told Betty she stared at me and then said, "Well, if they move in we're moving."
I was rather taken a back by this response and asked "Why?"
"Don't you know about Ethel and Merv?" she replied.
"No" I said innocently.
"Well," Betty said, looking around to see if anyone was listening, "About two years ago we were at a party when Ethel came up and introduced herself to me and asked if I would like to see her bedroom which they had just remodelled. Not really, I replied but thanks for asking."
"Well, you really should," Ethel continued. "It's very well-insulated."
"Great, I guess you'll be warm in the winter."
"Yes and it's very quiet, no one can hear us."
As the realization of what Betty was telling me dawned I shook my head, "You're kidding? She was inviting you to come up and see her etchings, so to speak?" I said.
"Etchings and much much more and she didn't want just me to come up, she wanted the men to join us." Betty went on.
"OMG, you're kidding?"
"Nope and she didn't stop even after I tried to politely say, What part of no don't you understand? Then later when I was trapped in the dressing room helping our daughters lace up their skates she tried again, going on about all the fun they have with different couples on picnics. Again, I said that we weren't interested in going on any adult picnics and ducked my head down to tie her daughter's bright pink laces."
Apparently this happened several times until Ethel finally got the message and gave up inviting Betty and her husband for picnics. Turns out they had also approached three other couples with the same alfresco dining invitation. I was mortified that I had almost invited her to move in across the street from us. But then I thought, "Hey, wait a minute. We went to Ethel and Merv's Halloween party last year and nobody made any moves on us. What are we? Chopped liver?"
Now I don't consider myself a prude and I always thought I loved a good picnic as much as the next girl but I didn't think that in our neighbourly application process we'd have to screen for swingers.