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Posted: October 1, 2017

The good neighbour and the old oars

By Bob Ede

Lisa and I like to explore the creeks during the early mornings of the weekends. On the way back home we stopped for coffee. In a shop next door is a place that grooms dogs. We looked at Willow’s claws and decided she could use a trim.

I looked inside and saw they were grooming a German shepherd. It would be a wait. I sipped my coffee and pulled Willow along.

The store below the dog grooming is an antique shop. I tend to avoid the place because it’s full of mostly junk, with everything over 10 years old being passed off as expensive ‘antiques’.

There outside was an old baby carriage. I moved in close to get a picture to send my daughter and joke we had bought it for her, knowing she would be concerned it would not meet today’s safety standards.

After I took the photo I noticed a pair of old oars standing up behind the carriage. I recognized them right off, from the squeaky old oarlocks, to the nick in the paddle and the flaking varnish.

They were the same old oars that were stolen from under my fishing boat a year before. Damn, I’d been ticked off. Who would steal somebody’s oars? I’d taken the boat out of my truck a few days earlier and left it in front of my house. When I went to store the boat the oars were gone.

Here I was looking at my long lost old oars. I checked the price tag – $145 – I couldn’t believe it!

The owner saw me but didn’t come out.

I went back to the truck and told Lisa. She was ready to go in there and demand the stolen oars back. I said no. They were long gone and as much as it peeved me off, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the owner who stole them. He just bought them from someone who had.

If they were cheaper I may have bought them back, but I knew the owner wouldn’t give an inch, so I didn’t even try. Surprisingly, Lisa was more peeved than I. That doesn’t happen often.

Later that afternoon, my good neighbour called me over for a beer. He’s a gardener like me. We exchanged information. His tomatoes are bigger than mine and continue to ripen in the warm September sun.

I told him the story about the old stolen oars. How they were stolen from my house right across the street from his. How the old oars squeaked. How much money the guy wanted for the old oars. I told him I didn’t get too bent out of shape, because I had a couple more old oars in the basement.

We moved on to another beer, and then another, he looked more and more disgusted, shaking his head and said, “What is this world coming to?”

I told him how much those old oars meant to me.

He was indignant, angry even; we were six beer in.

He said, ”You don’t mess with somebody’s whores!”

I said, “WHAT?”

He said, “You don’t screw around with somebody’s old whores.”

Every time I had said ‘old oars’ he heard ‘old whores.’

I asked him what he thought was going on across the street. He told me he wasn’t nosy. For all he knew, I could have had a couple of old whores stashed away!

I’m glad he thought so highly of me.

Our tomatoes kept ripening and we kept laughing. It was almost worth losing the old whores. . . I mean oars!

Lead image: ‘Quiet reflection’. Photo by Bob Ede

Bob Ede has been up a creek without a paddle before and he surely will be again. He can be reached at [email protected]

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