When I was a kid, some of my favorite memories involved running through our old yellow sprinkler. It whirled around like a wobbly drunkard and kids could never predict its erratic pattern. I loved it so much that when Joe and I bought our first real house together, it was given to me by my mother. Of course being one of the last of her kids to buy an actual house, I missed out on the lawn mower, snow blower, shovels, patio furniture, and lawn equipment that had already been given away. But somehow, an old yellow sprinkler made up for it all.
Fast forward to our first summer in the house. It was a hot one and I couldn't find my beloved grass waterer anywhere. Then I noticed my neighbor's sprinkler. Eureka. Same faded yellow color, same rust pattern. Yet how did it get over there? Did my neighbors pinch my favorite sprinkler? Did Danny toss it over the fence? Would I ever be able to look at my neighbors without suspicion and distrust?
When I shared my thoughts with Joe, he of course told me I was nuts and to go find something real to worry about. Not a chance. This was my childhood we were talking about.
I hatched a plan to send Danny over to get it back. He was only 3 at the time, so I figured the cops wouldn't nab him. I'd plead ignorance. Danny willingly agreed to be my accomplice in misdemeanor theft. I would just have to wait patiently for the right moment when there was a limited audience to view our criminal activities.
Yet every time the antique sprinkler made an appearance on my neighbor's lawn, there were dozens of kids playing outside who could finger us. I continued to stew even when my husband showed up with several new sprinklers. Not only did he not understand the emblem of my youth, he paid full price and lost the receipt for the new sprinklers. Salt in the wounds if you ask me.
After months of barely acknowledging my next door neighbors, I finally got around to unpacking the last few boxes from our move. And wouldn't you know what was in the last package with other sentimental valuables like our wedding album and the kids' newborn hospital bracelets? Yellow sprinkler. I felt like the biggest loser on the planet.
Today I saw my sprinkler's twin again whirling away. I decided to snap a picture of the pair together. Notice the striking similarities. What were the odds of two couples living next door to each other having the exact same rusty yellow sprinkler from 1975? Astronomical.
I regret the time I spent thinking ill of my wonderful neighbors who are probably two of the kindest people you could meet. The husband even came over once when I arrived home one night with the kids and discovered the back door ajar. He went from room to room for me checking for the Boogie Man. The wife is wonderful to my boys and lends me eggs whenever I actually cook. I am so ashamed.
Of course, if anyone saw me turning off their water supply to snap pictures on their front lawn, I'm sure I'll have some explaining to do.
Aren't you glad I'm not your neighbor?