Hope Broomhill needed a lawn boy.
Hope Broomhill needed a lot of things; she was a Church Lady...not quite a widow, but getting there. Her fourth husband, Blade, was in the nursing home these days, suffering from dementia....and she was very lonely.
Hope was an interesting character. She demanded attention, and got a lot of it from my sister-in-law, who lived just down the street. Breck was the type to jump at the chance to give service to others. Her deceased mother was also that way; I'm sure that's where she learned it. She put a lot of time into seeing to Hope's never-ending needs. Inevitably at a family dinner, her phone would ring and she would try not to roll her eyes while saying, "It's Hope, " to the rest of us. She would then try to explain to Hope that it was not a convenient time for her to talk at the moment. Frequently we'd hear Breck saying, "Well, Hope, I've got to go...my family's all here." And then, "Okay, we'll see you later then, Hope," and later, "Listen, it's been nice chatting, could I call you back later?"
Most of these large hints were ignored by Hope, who simply wanted company and wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. Eventually Breck took to inviting her to the family parties, also....since she interrupted them so often, she might as well attend.
Husband and I made the wrong move of walking past her house once while she was out in the yard. It cost us a good forty-five minutes. Our fatal mistake was entering her home to 'see something'....what we'd later find was a trap of sorts. Hope stood in the hallway between us and the door and made it very technical for us to try to escape.
I get the impression that Hope was quite the looker in her day. She still stands with the posture of one who had it and knew it. A one-time Joy Bra saleslady, she related stories about fitting the most difficult of shapes...and living to tell. It doesn't ever matter if she's in mixed company; the bra adventures are told far and wide...even when there are youth about. It's comical yet unnerving, all at the same time.
Hope still tries to apply makeup like she did way back when....large amounts of lipstick on lips that are not longer pouty...these have turned rather thin, if not non-existent. But not to worry; they can be drawn in the way they were before. The only 'draw back' is that later on in the day, that orange-red lipcolor bled into the deep cracks of her lips, taking it nearly up to her nose and down to her chin.
"Just try to guess how old I am," Hope would say to anyone niaiive enough to bite, "Go on, just guess."
None of us were brave enough to try. We just waited until she couldn't stand it any longer.
"I'm eighty-six!" she'd announce proudly, "Don't look like it, do I?"
We would all shake our heads no. And she didn't, really. Good for her.
We went through the same thing every time we saw her. Guessing her age. Stories of her father being related to Pancho Villa. Her work as a Rosey the Riveter type. All of the Very Important People that she'd met. Same thing. Every time.
Not long ago she asked us to pass out the 'Neighborhood Newsletter' in her subdivision, which was adjacent to our's. My husband volunteered us. I wouldn't have done it otherwise. Usually, Hope said, she'd do it herself, but she was going to be out of town that day and it HAD to be passed out that weekend....(or something terrible was going to happen, I guess, like in the chain emails?)
So, we passed out the cheerful-looking flyers. Yellow in color; flowers here and there all around the wording. But as we walked along, Sis and I began to read that wording.
"HOA FEES DUE! WE WILL BE CONTACTING YOU IF YOU DO NOT COMPLY!"
"SPRING CLEANUP IN YOUR YARDS REQUIRED! GET RID OF THOSE UNSIGHTLY LEAVES! ALSO, KEEP UP ON THOSE WEEDS THAT ARE EVERYWHERE. BE A BETTER NEIGHBOR THAN YOU WERE LAST YEAR."
"THERE NEEDS TO BE A NEIGHBORHOOD DISCUSSION ABOUT THE HOSES BEING LEFT OUT IN THE YARDS. THIS IS SLOPPY BEHAVIOR."
---Things like this. I looked at Sis and Sis looked at me, and we realized that we were accomplices of Hope's...she was sending out hate letters. As the President of the Home Owner's Association...she was the equivalent to that show 'Bewitched'....their 'Mrs. Kravitz'...! And now WE were guilty by association! Thanks, Hope!
It became more apparent as we'd see neighbors in the yard and would hand them thier happy little letter.
"Oh, GREAT!" they'd moan, "Another one from the Nazi!"
Sentiments like this were common among the residents. We would openly apologize and say we were just roped into doing a favor for an old lady friend. I don't know that this softened the blow any. No one appreciates the messengers. Who could blame them.
And now Hope had her eye on my son Jordan to mow and care for her lawn.
"Run, Jordan, run!" was my comment to him. I advised him not to take the job. Or, if he did, not to feel obligated in any way, and to quit whenever he'd had enough.
But Jordan grinned with that characteristic slow smile and said he'd be fine. He thought she was a nice old lady. Nevertheless, I was worried about him. Nice old ladies have a way of crushing egos.
He signed on, and did his usual meticulous job. Hope's lawn looked glorious. However, many a time we'd have to rescue him from a four-hour-stint. When Jordan went out the door, I'd glance at my watch and begin to call him from the two-hour mark, on. He would need a rescuing, I'd imagined. Hope could talk a person's ear right off. I didn't want Jordan to be trapped.
"It's okay, Mom," he'd tell me when he finally would get home, "She's all right. I don't mind talking to her."
That put a lump in my throat for my son. He really is a nice kid.
Three or four different times we tried to cut his visits short with Hope, to be helpful. We waited an extra hour for him at one family party at Breck's, just down the street. He wouldn't be rescued, though...he didn't want to be rude to Hope.
The trouble started when he tried to switch days on her. He told her he could show up each Monday evening. But every Saturday around 7:45 a.m. Hope would call Jordan's phone and ask him if he would be 'showing up'. Jordan would then explain that he would be there on Monday, as agreed upon. Then Hope would hang up on him, without saying goodbye.
Monday would come, Jordan would mow Hope's lawn, stay for a multitude of hours, tell her he'd see her next Monday, and all would be well....until Saturday morning, when Hope would call, bright and early, asking Jordan if he still wanted a job or not. He would then tell her he would see her on Monday, as planned. She would again hang up on him.
This happened three weeks in a row. Jordan assumed that she was just getting old and forgetful; that she meant no harm. On the third Saturday she called very early in the morning, and cackled to Jordan, "Do you want to work or don't you?"
He was polite and thought he once again worked it out with her to come and help on Monday. But Sunday rolled around and there sat Hope on her traditional pew at church, wearing her usual little smirk with the orange-red lipstick embedded in it.
"I hired your replacement yesterday," she said to Jordan, while still smirking, "I didn't want to do it, but I had to. Sorry." She said, still wearing that impish little smile.
Jordan came around the pew to where I was sitting and told me that Hope Broomhill had just fired him. He was grinning from ear to ear.
Somehow I don't think he's too 'cut up' about it.....it was a very high maintainence job, after all.