So I know I’ve mentioned our awesome neighbor Sergio a couple of times – super sweet Spanish accent, refills our dog’s water bowl while we’re at work...ring a bell? Well what I haven’t mentioned is the dude who sort of lives in Sergio’s backyard.
The yards on our block are roughly the size of a football field, so lots of people opt to put work sheds or cottages back there. We just use ours to play really official-feeling football games. We have painted end zones and everything. We dress Brutus up in a little striped referee outfit and Gary and I pick teams. My team is called Awesome, and Gary’s is called Slightly Less Awesome but More Likely to Win Because We Have Played Football Ever.
A few months ago during the fabled Canine Cover-Up of Oh-Ten, a friend of Sergio’s was visiting from Dallas. As they were helping Gary get the half ton dog house into the back of his truck, our friend Levi and Sergio’s friend got to talking and discovered they had some mutual friends from high school. During this conversation, Gary and I heard the name Russ, and instantly plastered it to Sergio’s friend’s face in our brains.
“But Emily,” you might be wondering, “didn’t Sergio’s friend introduce himself before agreeing to do heavy lifting for a couple of complete strangers?” Well, yes. I’m sure he did. I’m also sure that Gary and I both have a problem remembering people’s names the first time around. Here’s why: I have a little problem with social anxiety. I know I may seem effortlessly cool and socially non-retarded, but the truth is that’s all just a ruse to get people to read my blog and like me. In that order. So when I’m being introduced to someone, I’m usually focusing so hard on not mispronouncing my own name that I totally miss the other person’s name.
It goes a little something like this:
Stranger: Nice to meet you, my name’s –
(Meanwhile) Me: Extend hand for handshake. Be firm but gentle. For the love of Pete, do not short shake them. ‘What’s up, I’m Emily.’ No, you’re not a gangster in real life! That sounds disrespectful! ‘Hi, nice to meet you, my name’s Emily.’ NO, THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THEY JUST SAID! OH NO! IT’S MY TURN!
Way to go champ. Just nod your head and smile. Just keep up the nervous laughter until they turn to talk to someone else so you can go inside and stick your head in the oven.
I’ve never asked Gary what his problem is...maybe he’s just too busy being manly and looking like Mark Wahlberg to bother with things like remembering names.
Anyway, the point of this story is that we spoke to Levi later that night and discovered that Russ was actually the name of one of their mutual high school friends, not Sergio’s friend. Unfortunately for us, Levi didn’t manage to catch his name either, so for the past few months we’ve been referring to him as Not Russ. It wouldn’t be a big deal if he had just visited the one time, but he liked it here so much that he decided to buy a fifth wheel trailer and set it up in Sergio’s giant backyard and split his time between Dallas and here. So now for two weeks at a time, Not Russ is our neighbor, and we run into him a lot. We’ve managed to scrape by with a lot of ‘hey...man’s and ‘how ya doin’...buddy’s, but we’ve always known if we didn’t do something soon, we were going to end up with a very embarrassing situation on our hands.
My first thought was that we should take someone back there and introduce him by saying something like, “Hey, you guys haven’t met yet! This is my sister Sarah...” and then hoping that he would fill in the gap by telling Sarah his own name. Gary pointed out that this plan had the potential to end badly if Not Russ was even close to as socially awkward as the two of us are, so I decided to scrap it. It also occurred to me that with Sarah being as young and cute and single as she is, such an introduction might give Not Russ the wrong idea.
We feared this dilemma would plague us for the rest of our days, but last night we were miraculously granted pardon for our social crimes. Gary was talking to Sergio about some new tools he just got, and he mentioned that Sergio ever needed to borrow them, he was more than welcome.
Then, in a stroke of pure genius, he added, “Oh yeah, and I know you guys have been working on that fifth wheel, so if um...*snap* uh...*snap, snap*...”
“YEAH! John!!! Good ol’ Johnny boy! Not by the hair of my Johnny John John! If JOHN ever needs to borrow any tools, you just let him know he’s welcome to whatever we have.”
And that is the story of how the west was won.