Friday, June 29, 2007


I try to be a good neighbor, really I do. But, sometimes, things just get to a point when you can't stand it anymore, and something has got to be done. That's what happened with my neighbor, Hans...who really should be called 'Hands' for his ever-gropeing ways, when he is around a woman, any woman.

For an old geezer, Hans is pretty agile, especially when it came to the opposite sex. One has to be forever dodging both his hands and his innuendos. He's always turning the least little thing around to be of sexual conotations, and pawing and panting and actually drooling, when in the presence of anything female.

Of course, he's also one of the richest old geezers in the town as well, so perhaps that helps his chances along a bit. Not that it would help him during the actual act...I have it on good authority from Maggie (a poor single mother with refined tastes and aspirations), who had a go, thinking to get herself set up. Maggie's only comment, when asked how it went, was, "Meme pas penetrée!".

And Hans has a reputaion for having a hedgehog in his pocket, which is to say that each time he reaches into his pocket, he get poked by the hedgehog's spines, and pulls out his hand too fast to get any of the cash that's at the bottom. Maggie didn't last too long. None of them do, in fact...although there is always certain to be a petite, well dressed, well kept woman of a certain age hanging on Hans' arm at any social gathering of local ex-pats, it is an ever-changing woman. And one has to be adept at learning the new one's name, and and making smalltalk with her while not recalling any previous conquests or anecdotes of.

I'm not sure that Hans was happy to see me moving in as his new neighbor. Me, four little kids, goats, ponies, donkeys, and all the rest did change his quiet neighborhood somewhat. But it wasn't for the noise, as he's mostly deaf, and has his hearing aids turned off, anyway. It couldn't have been for the animals, although some of them did, from time to time, get into his garden...not that they made a mess, or destroyed any plants, mind you...and I did bring over eggs, goat's milk cheese, legs of lamb, and sides of bacon. Maybe it was the kids...Hans hates kids, he even specifies not to bring them to his parties or dinners...but even that seemed to be okay, and one of his ladies was being the piano teacher for the boys, until there were just too many complaints about doors being slamed, hair being pulled, screaming and tantrums...but the boys have another piano teacher now, and this new teacher doesn't do anything like that, and is quite calm, really.

It wasn't as if I were The Neighbor From Hell. I did try my best. But I did do something that might not have been exactly kosher. In my defense, however, I have to say that I was mightily provoked. It was at the time just before Hans had the fence put up between our two properties.... You see...I had a lot of chickens. Chickens are great for eggs and meat and a farm-raised organic chicken is always a useful bartering tool, for when the car breaks down or a tree falls on the road, or a leak needs fixing. And each chicken has an individual personality and character, so when the time comes to kill them it can be really difficult to choose which one is gong to go into the pot, especially if you've given them cute little names, and watched them grow up or hatched them yourself in the incubator. In fact, the best way to get over that problem is to buy or raise even more chickens, so that one more or less won't be missed.

And that's what I did. I accepted half a dozen more grown laying hens from a little old lady who goes every year up to Paris at Christmastime, in order to visit her daughter. She stays for six weeks, so there really isn't anybody willing to take care of her birds for all that time, and she had gotten into the habit of giving the birds away each winter and starting with fresh birds each spring. She didn't have the heart to kill them, but I did...and I traded her the hens for young birds every springtime, with eggs in between.

Chickens don't take too well to having new friends. In fact, chickens won't even let new friends sleep over or lay eggs in shared nests. Sometimes chickens will beat up on other chickens that have been introduced into their cluck-clique, and the newbies have to go elsewhere to find a space of their own.

And that's just what those new chickens did, too. They went straight over to Hans' garage and made themselves at home. I didn't notice. I was too busy with the rest of the gang. But I still was being a good neighbor, and brought a dozen eggs and some garden produce over to Hans each week, which he always accepted with a big smile, and a laugh. Nevermind, I thought to myself, some pople are stranger than others. Live and let live.

Until the day I noticed that the hens were over there. And, on closer inspection, noticed a nice nestbox, complete with one marked egg...marked 'hard boiled'. Grrr! The nerve of that guy! Why didn't he just tell me...he could've kept the hens and the eggs, I didn't mind...but to continue to accept eggs from me all the while, to boot! I had to think about some way to solve this.

As luck would have it, the Gendarmes happened to pass by on patrol and stopped to pass the time of day. I mentioned the nest and the eggs and asked for advice. They said just not to poison the eggs. Great. I had to think of something that would do the trick without too much humbug.

If you know about chickens, then you'll know that they do most of their pooping, about 75%, during the night, when they are asleep. And you'll know, too, that anybody can do anything with a sleeping chicken...they just hum gently and dream away, and stay sound asleep, it's impossible to wake them unless you happen to turn on the lights.

So, that night, the kids and I put thirty chickens into Hans' car. This was easy to do, as he had, still has even to this day, an open jeep-like car...somewhat like a French version of that old Volkswagon 'Thing'. We perched them all over..the steering wheel, the seats, the open edges (butts inward), even the gearshift. And then we went to bed. That old bugger wants chickens, I'll give him chickens!

Now, before you go to wondering why I did it this way, and didn't simply stop by and ask Hans to stop, or even just let it go and give him the hens and the have to understand that Hans is very old and very rich, and that he considers his life and the people in it a big game of chess. He enjoys his life and all the daily happenings in it, and it would have disappointed him to no end to simply have nothing come of this little incident. I simply helped him out. In fact, he's been known to repeat this little story, in the years that have since passed.

The next morning I made a point to be in the garden from daybreak. The chickens had come back home at dawn, leaving the car to go and look for worms and bugs in the small forest nearby. Hans came out of his house and got into his car and got as far as backing it up a few meters before jumping back out. I sat quietly in my garden and watched as he emptied the nestbox, broke it into little pieces, burned it, and then made an inspection of his garage, looking for any bits of feathers or hidden eggs. He then went back into his house, presumbly to call the Gendarmes.

Sure enough, the Gendarmes showed up a few minutes later. I was still sitting quietly in my garden, just waiting. After a few minutes of conversation with Hans, one of the Gendarmes peered into my garden, spotted me, and crooked his finger at me, "Come on over here, Susie". Well, so I did.

When I got to where everybody was, next to the very shat-upon, and in, car...the Gendarmes (trying, but not quite succeeding, to keep a straight face) asked me what was going on. I replied that it seemed the chickens were just being chickens, because, as chickens are wont to do, they tend to sleep where they lay. And as they had been doing their laying in Hans' garage... And then the Gendarme asked Hans what he had done with the nest and the eggs that had been there the day before! Years ago, that was, and I still laugh when I think of the look on Hans' face! In the end, the Gendarmes said that since it had been my chickens, it would be up to me to clean up after them. And so I did. I dumped thirty two buckets of hot soapy water into the car, and called it a day. And I had a full case of 360 eggs delivered to Hans' house the next day. Here you go, Hans, have some eggs!

1 comment:

PureCajunSunshine said...

I am SO glad see your new all your gems are in one place, instead of scattered all over cyberspace!

'tis hard to pick a favorite story, but "Hans" is darned good medicine for a bad day. You are a master of picturesque word imagery!

Your stories are real treats. Thanks for sharing them!