April 14, 2021 | View PDF
Our neighbor enjoys all his toys in king size. He owns one of the largest side-by-sides (after passing the smaller one he owned off to his wife), he traded off his pint-sized tractor for a more powerful upgrade, and he enjoys puttering around in a shop as large as his house. I mention these few examples to illustrate just what I am talking about. He will purchase an item, and generally end up replacing it with something that is just a bit bigger and that features more bells and whistles than his original, smaller model.
This penchant for bigger and better apparently spilled over to his preference in mailboxes. He sunk several posts, hung a gate, and perched a mailbox on top of one of the posts. This mailbox is large enough to comfortably house a family of skunks with room left over for an assortment of spiders and other pests.
One of the more hilarious facts about all this is that we do not have mail delivery here on the mountain. Virginia City and surrounding area offer no home mail delivery whatsoever; we all have post boxes at the local post office and collect our own mail every day.
Naturally we needled our neighbor incessantly when he first erected that palace of a mailbox several years ago. We wanted to know who or what he thought might make use of that monster of a container. He remarked that UPS could leave packages in it when he and his wife were gone for the day and had a delivery coming.
The many problems with that little idea include the facts that our neighbor, following his usual habits, usually purchases something too large to fit even in his gargantuan mailbox, or winter has arrived with snow and ice and no UPS driver in his or her right mind would drive up our hill to deliver a package of any size. Rather they leave it at the post office for us to collect ourselves.
The neighbor also pointed out that we could write him weekly checks and deposit them in the mailbox. That way he would have a reason to check it once or twice a week and it would make him a happy man. I guess we aren’t overly interested in making him a happy man, as we have declined to indulge his wishes on that score.
The jokes about the mailbox tapered off somewhat until last summer season. During the hot lazy days of summer last year, the mailbox once again became the receptacle (no pun intended) for many comments. Every time one set of neighbors did something for the other set, the standard joke became the bill, how much it ought to be, how quickly it should be paid, and that of course the bill and/or the payment would be left in the mailbox. When our neighbors helped us place our tombstone rock for our 911 address, he informed us that we would get a large bill to compensate him for his time and effort, and that he would leave the bill in the mailbox for us to collect. We assured him that was fine, we of course would possibly, maybe, perhaps bother to check for the bill in the next decade or so, and in return would leave payment in the mailbox in a similarly timely fashion.
The bantering continued. Any time one couple helped the other neighbor load or unload something, or loaned out an item, or helped clear brush on the other’s property, or performed any sort of picayune task, we always informed the other that yes indeed, there would be a bill awaiting them in the mailbox, and that reimbursement should be prompt.
In other words, the check’s in the mailbox.
Last fall, my husband and I were at the neighbors enjoying adult beverages. After relaxing and visiting for a while, we decided we had best mosey on home and get something done. I got up, placed my wine glass in the sink, but in doing so, it unfortunately slipped out of my hand and shattered to shards. Easy enough to clean up, as the mess landed in the sink, except our neighbor informed me that that particular wine glass belonged to his grandmother (it didn’t, I had given them that glass earlier in the year), and he remembered drinking milk from that wine glass as a child while eating cookies (drinking milk from a wine glass? What sort of grandmother did he have, anyway?), and that the glass had been specially imported from Italy and was a priceless family heirloom, worth at least $300.
I told him I’d replace the wine glass. He told me he preferred the cash. I told him I’d put a check in the mailbox.
Actually, I ought to, dated the twelfth of Never, of course, as to my knowledge he has not peeked inside that monstrosity for at least a year. I wonder how long it would take him to find a surprise that I placed there for his amusement?