Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be

Yesterday as I was sitting at my computer clickety-clacking away furiously, like a woodpecker in heat, I heard a rap on my door downstairs.

I have the absolute pleasure and luxury to work from home on Thursdays, which means my commute on those days consists of rolling out of bed and turning on the computer. This is infinitely preferrable to the road rage that comes from trying to navigate through the construction-riddled highways that signal autumn in Maine as much as do turning leaves.

It also means that I was sitting at my computer in too-big, wide-legged, gray sweatpants with a stain on one cheek, and T’s chocolate ice cream-stained PT sweatshirt (just ignore that last part, dear), with my hair in a ratty semblance of a ponytail-slash-bun. I was a sight for sore eyes.

Or a sight to make eyes sore.

One or the other.

When I heard the knock, I got up from my chair and thundered down the stairs, trying to avoid tangling myself the herd of stampeding animals and plummeting to my death.

Oh yeah, and I wasn’t wearing a bra.

The inner door was open to let in some light and through the glass of my outer front door I saw a small boy standing on the steps. He was adorable, with golden brown hair and dark skin and eyes, no more than seven or eight years old. I had never seen him before in my life.

Quite frankly I was surprised to see him standing there now, as he was alone. I live in the kind of neighborhood where people drive their kids two hundred yards to the end of the road to wait for the bus, even in nice weather. We have car-to-door Girl Scout cookie sales. Makes me miss the good old days of latch-keying it.

I hooked a finger in Owen’s collar and opened the door.

“Hi,” I said.

This is what the kid said to me:

“Do you have a fifteen milligrater socket we can borrow?”

Um. What?

No, “Hi, I’m Johnny Johnson from across the street.”

No, “My mom/dad/stepwhatever sent me over.”

Just, “Do you have a fifteen milligrater socket we can borrow?”

I looked up and saw that my across-the-street neighbors were in their driveway. They looked like they might be working on a car.

Now, I’m no mechanic (though I used to date one), but I’m pretty sure he meant “millimeter”. I don’t know of any system of measurement, English, metric or otherwise, that uses “graters” as a base unit.

(Incidentally, why does America use the English system of measurement, but England uses metric? I think we’ve been had.)

Also, he probably meant to add wrench on the end of that, but now I’m just getting nit-picky.

“Um, no, I don’t think so,” I said, trying to search my brain catalog for our tool inventory.

He just stared at me.

“A fifteen…what?” I prompted him again, to fill the awkward silence. And to make it look like I was giving the matter special consideration.

“A fifteen milligrater socket.”

There it was again! That grater thing.

“No, I’m sorry. I don’t.”

“Okay.” He turned around, jumped off the steps and ran across the yard.

No, “Okay, thanks anyway.”

No, “Okay. ‘Bye.”

Just, “Okay.”

I stood there for a second, contemplating.

They had probably wanted him to ask my neighbor. I live in a duplex and my landlords live in the other half of the house. The husband is an electrician and would be much more likely to have a fifteen milligrater socket than I would.

I felt bad for the poor kid.

But not bad enough to direct him to the other side of the house.

I didn’t like the way he looked at my ice cream stain.


7 responses to “Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be

  1. Oh my goodness!!!, you are too funny I giggled until everyone asked what I was laughing at…and I’m at work….KUDOS!! Hmm, milligrater socket ?!?!?!?

  2. Adorable story! Love your self-deprecating description: “ratty semblance of a ponytail-slash-bun.”

    I do enjoy your writing a lot.

  3. Wow, I’m surprised you answered the door. And your work from home outfit sounds a lot like mine when I worked in a ‘virtual’ office. My daily hygiene was questionable, often the first question OccDoc would ask when he got home was, “Did you shower today?” Nice to see you, too.

  4. The little kid sounds sketchy. That and considering the way he looked at your ice cream stain, you probably wouldn’t have gotten your fifteen milligrater socket back – if you had one. Sometimes things just work out for the best… =)

  5. Hehe! I loved the graters! The Metric system definitely doesn’t involve those yet! It’s funny how “in-your-face” kids seem to be these days. I feel ancient for thinking like that, but I remember wandering around as a kid, minding my Ps & Qs, and being extra-courteous when speaking to adults. I hope he got his 15 milligrater anyway….

  6. Hahahahaha!!! That reminds me of how some neighborhood kid came to my door recently, shoved a catalog at me and asked “do you want to buy something?” None of that introductory or explanation stuff either. Damn kids. LOL!!!

  7. I can’t stop giggling about this. Children are so wonderful, aren’t they? Some neighbors sent their children (whom we knew already) to borrow our drill. Of course, somehow on the way back to our house from theirs, they lost the bit. *sigh*

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