What a Ball Taught This Wife About Her Husband in 20 Seconds

Across the street lives a not-so-nice man. I’m pretty sure if the kids are ever in the road when he comes home, he’ll squash them like a squirrel with his truck and never look back. When my son was three, this grouchy man yelled at him for getting a cool stick out of his yard. My son still gives him the stink eye whenever he sees him, and we never so much as touch a blade of his grass now.

The other night, my husband, son, and I tossed a ball around on our driveway, ignoring Mr. Meany, working in his yard. Until our bouncy ball rolled into the street and toward Mr. Meany’s driveway. The three of us looked at one another in horror, our eyes bulging like waterlogged diapers. Silently I beckoned for the ball to stop, to come back, to roll six feet to the left and hit the curb. But the laws of physics cannot change for one errant playground ball. Speed was not in our favor. That blue rubber ball gained momentum and rolled up Mr. Meany’s driveway as he walked up it toward his garage.

Hang on to your balls, kids.

I looked to my husband, the man of the house, sure that he would handle our awkward situation. He took one look at the ball’s position and sprinted away snickering like a cat that tipped a garbage can. The punk. My son stood paralyzed with fear, looking from his fleeing father to me. I knew he wouldn’t retrieve the ball. He won’t even go to Mr. Meany’s house to trick-or-treat.

I gulped. I wanted to avoid a confrontation with Mr. Meany. When a stray toddler steps foot into his yard, he yells, “Get out of my yard!” Neighbors have told me of past run-ins when their kids’ ball landed in his yard and he scooped it up and said, “Mine.” For a small frame, he delivers a whopping blow: unfriendly and no second chances.

It seemed if we wanted our ball, it was up to me. I dashed across the street and hoped Mr. Meany wouldn’t yell at me. Why my husband nominated me for this job was beyond me. I yell back when provoked. But wait, the ball started rolling down the driveway! Mr. Meany looked down and watched it roll past him. I grabbed it off the end of his driveway and ran. No eye contact. No words exchanged. Quiet on both sides of the street. My kids didn’t need a vocabulary lesson anyway. And now I know I can count on my husband to run away from my every beck and call.

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27 Comments

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27 responses to “What a Ball Taught This Wife About Her Husband in 20 Seconds

  1. Whenever the situation calls for diplomacy or sticking one’s neck out, like you, I have to deal with the Mr. Meany’s in our lives. That’s because we are irresistible. At least that’s what I tell myself. It works for me!

  2. Funny!!! I can totally see my husband doing the same thing. Mr. Meany must be so unhappy.

  3. I know this guy! Except he’s a woman and he lives next door to me. We call her the mean lady. She is in possession of at least two of our soccer balls, a frisbee, and an impressive collection of wiffle balls. I wonder what she does with all of them.

  4. We have a neighbor like that, we call him Erland. We are putting our house on the market this summer and I’m wondering if I should disclose Erland. My husband and children left all of the Erland interactions up to me. I discovered the best weapon was kindness. Erland never knew what hit him!

  5. We have one those neighbors, he also likes to call the fire dept when I have my fire pit going in the summer, and he also likes to call the police on me for having other neighbors over for a couple of beers maybe hes jealous, he also called the police on me for letting off some fireworks which are legal here, he told the cops he was afraid a hot ash would land on the 2 55 gallon drums of gas he keeps in his backyard for his boat (that has never left his yard in the 10 years I’ve lived here) I haven’t had any problems with him since I called the DEM on him for storing 100+ gallons of gas in his backyard which is illegal and carries a stiff fine and jail time.
    I bite back when provoked :)
    Great post

  6. Hahaha – I can picture all your other neighbors peeking out from behind closed curtains watching, waiting with breaths held, to see if you recover the ball.

    • It would definitely be that kind of moment. It was like it happened in slow motion and a lot happened in those few seconds. He was out last night too and of course my kid wanted to play ball. I think he was just waiting for it to come in his yard.

  7. What a great post! Your husband’s reaction reminds me of my husband who, on our honeymoon, agreed we should go parasailing in the Bahamas. When it came time to actually GO, he looked at me and said, “Ladies first”! Really! I still tease him. I guess alot of us have neighbors we have to work gingerly around. I laughed at The Middle episode where the Hecks have to deal with their horrible neighbor family – so glad mine aren’t that bad.

    • Generally we don’t have to deal with him. We respect that he doesn’t want anyone to bother his yard and the kids are old enough to know that. It was just unfortunate that a bouncy ball landed in it, and that he happened to be right there.

      My husband said later that it was actually my ball, as in the ball came to me and I missed it and it rolled into Mr. Meany’s driveway. This did not help matters.

  8. Heather

    Love this…especially your hubs “respected” the rules and let you get “your ball.” You know…being a good sport and all!

    We had an old man neighbor like that growing up. He routinely tattled on neighbor kid who was up late with his bedroom light on! He could see the kid’s bedroom and fancied himself the neighborhood watchman. So much for privacy…great memory!

    • The funny thing is, my husband ran off in a fit of laughter. And I’m sure he laughed more when I had to run over and get it. Next time, it’s his turn! Can’t wait till the kids are teenagers. I hope they don’t toilet paper his yard!

  9. MuddledDad

    “…like a cat that tipped a garbage can…” More like a noble man who knows the right time to duck behind a car!

  10. Hmmm……I’d say hubby gets to do the dishes for the month and owes you a foot massage. We don’t have any meanies in our neighborhood because we’re all family, but I have seen other meanies in action. Now, go collect that foot massage. Sandy

  11. I’m so thankful to not have one of those neighbors. I would get NOTHING else done, because I would spend all my time looking for little ways to put my spritely, happy self all up in his business…every day. I love Mr. Meany’s. They present a challenge for me. And I make sure my kids are watching as I “practice” dealing with difficult people, because that’s the only way they’re going to learn to do it right. There are a LOT of Mr. Meany’s out there. Start ‘em young.

    Give your husband a good smack on the pants for me, will ya? And be sure to loudly remind him just who it is who wears them when you’re confidently going to get that ball next time, child in tow.

  12. I think that ball should have gone straight at your hubby’s head!!! It seems even the ball was afraid to stay in Mr. Meany’s driveway! Angie

  13. Good for you! My husband also likes to avoid confrontations – but he seems to enjoy reaping the results when I am able to achieve a positive outcome!

  14. I’m sure it wasn’t hilarious at the moment… =)

    I’d really like to know more about Mr Meany. There must’ve been something in his life that made him forget to smile.

  15. This reminds me of an episode of Recess. It’s amazing how terrifying adults can be to adults!

  16. I really enjoyed this, especially the “water-logged” diapers line. Our nearest neighbor is a mile away, so I can’t relate to mean neighbors, but I can relate to retreating husbands! :-)

  17. “Sprinted away snickering” had me rolling. Sadly I can imagine myself doing the same thing. Ahh the mischevious glee. :D

    • It was all in fun. We were both nearly in hysterics, and he knew he had me. What else could I do but get the ball when he ran? I’ve found that men often revert to their former boyhood selves.

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