We had just moved into our new home in a South Florida country club neighborhood when my husband got called away on business. He was gone for months and only home for a few days at a time.
It was a large house and we had moved furniture into it from two other homes, one house in “South-er” Florida, the other in Massachusetts. If you know anything about new Florida homes, you’ll know that it was needless to ship our furniture from Massachusetts.
It was six pm, I was exhausted from unpacking and had called it a night. Having to pick my son up from his after-school activities, I backed out of my driveway and my new next door neighbor, Vivian, stopped me.
Great. Just Great!
I had on my Pajamas: purple flannel shorts with cute little owls and a solid colored non-matching t-shirt. I won’t mention what was or was not underneath them. I reluctantly rolled down my window.
Viv and I chatted for a few minutes about an upcoming luncheon and a golf event at “the club.” We finally said our goodbyes and she backed away from my car. Her arms quickly started flailing, bringing me to a stop. Her dog, Chanel, had crawled under my car. She said it was Chanel’s way of preventing me from going anywhere and that she had to get in the car to make it look like she was leaving for Chanel to come out. Apparently, this happens all the time. OK, so here we sit, the dog in control of when I can pick up my son.
Ten minutes later, Chanel came out from under my car and Viv jumped out and swooped her up. So, off I go.
Can you believe I ran out of gas? Yes, right in front of my neighbor’s house, in my new fancy neighborhood, in my pajamas. The first thing I did was text my son so he’d know I’d be late. Viv fetched Josette, a petite red-head- her “other-side next-door neighbor.” We were introduced and she let me know in her delightful French,
"Je n’ai pas de gaz pour vous.”
As we chatted, Sarah from across the street came out and introduced herself. Of course, she didn’t have any gas but I learned she was an ER doctor. “If you need anything medical-related you can call me. Call Josette if you need anything “hostess-y” or baking related, and Viv is our resident artist, she loves to refinish furniture. The neighbor over there, well, he’s a proctologist, so...”
“For the moment, I just need to pick up my son.”
I debated running to my house, to at least change my clothes, but I didn’t want to leave my car smack dab in the middle of the road. And then I saw her coming. Viv had gone down the street to rouse up yet another neighbor. And they were carrying a large, red five-gallon can of gas.
Viv excitedly introduced me to Bill and Darlene. As Bill filled my gas tank, Darlene explained why she had a 3x3 gauze pad taped to the side of her face, “Removal of basal cells.” Something I’ve come to learn a lot about while living in Florida.
I was grateful for the gas, for meeting all my neighbors, and for no one mentioning my pajamas (at least not that day.... I heard about them from women who weren’t anywhere nearby that night, for years to come.)
When I returned home, Darlene had left a bottle of wine on my door step with a note welcoming me to the neighborhood and, “to call her anytime.” I called her that night for a chat and a glass of wine and many, many nights after that.
Kyle Ann Robertson
Retired, mother of four, grandmother of two, dog lover, yoga attempter, avid writer and wine drinker!