Friday morning, I woke with a jolt. I'd let the dog out for an early bathroom break, and remembered only after hearing her bark at the front of the house that I'd left the backyard gate unlatched.
I jumped out of bed and scrambled downstairs, not bothering to throw on a robe. I yanked the front door open a modest three or four inches to yell for the dog. One of our five cats – all of whom have been confined to the house since the move – glimpsed freedom through the open door and bolted.
"Dammit, Maggie!" I yelled, yanking the door open another couple inches to make a futile grab for her.
That's when I saw the man on my porch.
"Um, hi," he said.
"Hello," I replied, making a useless attempt to stand upright and hide behind the door.
"Does this belong to you?" he asked.
I half expected him to hold up something lacy or battery-powered and was prepared to answer affirmatively without even looking. Then I realized he was pointing at my dog, who sat panting on the porch beside him.
She looked like she was laughing.
"Y-yes," I stammered. "Bindi, come inside!"
Even Bindi could see she was unlikely to fit through the door with me holding it open a mere two or three inches. She seized the opportunity to dance off down the driveway in pursuit of the cat.
Oblivious to my distress – or perhaps delighting in it – the man on my porch stuck out his hand. "I'm Jamie," he said. "My wife and I have lived across the street for about three years. It's a great neighborhood."
"It sure is," I agreed, peering around him for a glimpse at my wayward pets while trying to keep my naked self hidden behind the door. Figuring it wouldn't hurt to draw my new neighbor's attention back to the task at hand, I yelled for my dog.
"Bindi! Come back here, girl!"
"I'll grab her," offered my Good Samaritan neighbor, trotting off down the driveway. He returned seconds later holding my dog by the collar. "Here you go."
"Er, thanks." I squeaked the door open a few more inches, vainly using my hair to cover the upper half of my torso. "Come on, Bin."
The dog scooted inside, wagging her tail and prancing with delight at meeting someone new. I grabbed her by the collar.
"So it was nice to meet you," my new neighbor chattered. "It's a quiet street, and everyone is really friendly."
"Great!" I replied, thinking I could do with a little less friendliness at the moment. "Thank you so much for your help. It was great meeting you, um–"
"Jamie," he supplied. "And my wife is–"
"Thanks again!" I called, and shut the door.
I showered and got dressed and had a lovely morning of walking the dog and working on the new manuscript. Around lunchtime, I went outside to check the mail. As luck would have it, that's when the Good Samaritan neighbor returned home for his lunch break. Spotting me in my driveway, he stared blankly for a moment. Several minutes ticked by, and he remained in his truck.
At last, he sidled out and waved, not meeting my eyes.
"Thanks again for returning Bindi this morning," I yelled across the street. "I really appreciate it."
He halted mid-step, finally turning to look at me. "Bindi? Oh, I thought you were saying Mindi."
"Nope, it's Bindi."
"Huh," he said, taking a few steps up my driveway and scuffing his shoe on the ground. "Look, sorry if I startled you this morning standing on your porch so early."
"No problem," I replied. "Sorry if I startled you this morning by answering my door naked."
He blinked at me. "Is that why you didn't open the door?"
"For the record, I usually do answer the door fully clothed," I supplied. "In case you or your lovely wife ever stop by."
We chatted a few more minutes about pets and neighborhood watch programs (the latter taking on a new meaning in light of our initial encounter). At last, my neighbor turned to go.
"It was nice seeing – er, meeting you," he said.
When interviewers ask why I write comedy, my pat answer is that I'm a magnet for absurdity and it just makes sense to capitalize on that.
Now you know.