My next door neighbor is a good man and a great gardener. Every time I look out my kitchen window, there he is working in his garden, cutting the grass, cleaning out his shed and helping out his next door neighbor, sometimes all at the same time. I am opposed to anything involving the great outdoors, especially in the spring, summer and fall when there are mosquitos, bees, ants and real men outside.

I have never had an interest in flowers. Yes, they are pretty but don't expect me to come across a dying flower and water it. There is always the possibility there is a bee hidden deep inside the crevices of the flower, ready to attack and sting me in the eye. I am not paranoid, just very
very careful.

My next door neighbor is the greatest gardener in the world. I know this for a fact because his gardens in the front and back of his little house are perfect. I have seen him watering his flowers even while it was raining. He spends at least two hours a day in his small gardens making all of his  flowers look perfect. My wife handles our garden, which even my wife admits looks nowhere near as good as his.

On to the main story...

Our garage is in pretty bad shape. The roof has needed replacing for the past five years. The paint has been peeling off for the past eight years. It is one hell of a sore sight. I finally decided to get my virgin scraper out of the mothballs and scrape some of the old paint off. I also decided to take my hammer out of my Big Bird tool box. I did not really need the hammer but I figured it would impress all of the other neighbors.

Suddenly I had visions of actually scraping off all the old paint and giving the garage a fresh coat of paint. I knew I could do it, although it might take me six months. TODAY WAS THE DAY I WOULD BECOME A REAL MAN. Amazingly my next door neighbor was out for the day with his wife, so I could take my time and do the proper job I knew I was capable of.

As I started to scrape, I noticed that the little pieces of paint were falling into my next door neighbors garden, which was right beside my garage.  Thanks to the rather strong wind his beautiful and perfect garden was getting sprinkled with bits of white scrap paint. This was not good. I thought it over in my head on what to do until I came up with a brilliant idea. I would bring out the old door that was in the garage and lean it up sideways beside my garage. Now the paint scrapings would hit the door and land in my driveway instead of his immaculate garden. Am I a genius or what? I vacuumed up the tiny bits of scrap paint in his garden very carefully and avoided sucking up his flowers. So far, so good.

After about ten minutes of scraping I felt something rather strange. I was beginning to sweat. I did not like this rather odd sensation. Also, all the local bees could smell me and I could see them coming straight for me off in the distance.  They were lined up in perfect order and I knew what they were communicating to each other. "It's Graves. It's a miracle! The bugger is outside! Let's get 'em, boys. I'll take out his left eye and you can go for his butt!" I knew the only way to lessen an attack of killer bees was to drop everything but my pants and get the hell back into the safety of my house and nuzzle up to my remote control.

This is where the idiot part comes in...

About an hour later I glanced out my kitchen window to marvel at the three or four scrape marks I had made on the garage. Suddenly my eyes bulged out of my head and I could feel my heart drop down into my left shoe. It seems I had forgotten to put something away. The nice big heavy door that I had used to prevent little bits of scrap paint from going into his immaculate garden was now laying perfectly across his once erect flowers, slowly but surely suffocating the little roses or whatever the hell they were. The first thing that popped into my head was "Thank God my wife is at work right now!" The second thing that popped into my head was "Thank God my wife is at work right now!". It was at this time I swore to myself that I would not tell my wife what happened and I most certainly would not tell my neighbor. Sometimes dishonesty is the best policy, if you want to remain alive.

I ran out and lifted up the heavy door. The flowers looked in pretty bad shape but at least they did not have any paint scrapings on them. For a split second I was going to give each individual flower mouth to stem resuscitation but I knew that would not work. I grabbed one of the limp flowers and shook it. "I'm sorry! Please don't die on me!" and shook the hell out of it and gave it a good slap.

My neighbor could be coming home any minute now, so I had to act fast. I knew I would have to hide all of the evidence of me being outside. I quickly vacuumed up all of the paint scrap in the driveway and threw the bastard of a door into the garage. I tried to straighten out all of his forty or fifty flowers the best I could. I finally stepped back to see how his garden looked and to be totally honest, the garden didn't look bad, if it had just been in a major earthquake, that is...

Later in the evening my neighbor came home. He pulled into the driveway and I was hoping and praying he would not notice his garden had just been to hell and back. As soon as he stepped out of his truck he walked directly over to his beloved garden and started to give it the tender loving care it had so badly been lacking for the past eight hours. He straightened out all of the flowers the best he could and he erected cute little stakes for them. Around this time my wife came home from work. She had mentioned to me that she was going to water his flowers in the back earlier but she said "They looked pretty dead so I did not want to touch them and end up getting blamed for killing them or something". Later in the evening my wife and I were sitting in the backyard and my neighbor was still working on his garden and he mumbled to us "It must have been awfully hot here today, all my flowers collapsed".

I would like to end this column by saying a few words to my good neighbor.

Sir, I am sorry for what happened to your garden. It was an accident. I hope you will forgive me. I also hope you never read this apology and find out what I did to your precious garden.

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