To Whom It May Concern:
(Which is not you, apparently, my could-have-been-dear, new next-door neighbors.) Some advice for you: When someone knocks on your door carrying the best baked goods on the planet, don’t pretend you aren’t home. When your dogs bark and peer through the window at a friendly woman carrying no weapon but a plate of caramel brownies with nuts, attractively nestled in black and white cupcake wrappers on a white plate with “Welcome Home” written all around the edges, you OPEN THE DOOR. You do not quietly tell the dogs to hush– especially when you aren’t as quiet as you think. Hello! I’m standing right here, and I hear you. Just outside your door.
The postman may always ring twice, new neighbor, but I will not.
Actually, I take that back. I have rung thrice. Last week, when I baked caramel brownies with nuts JUST TO WELCOME YOU to the neighborhood, I peeked through my window to make sure your car was there and then carefully packaged the sweet treats, ready to walk them over to your new home while they were still warm. Melted caramel and chocolate and pecans layered between chocolate crusty perfection — “like Disney World in your mouth,” one of my students once said. Still warm. But in the minutes it took me to package them, you drove off.
When we heard your car return, my husband and I gathered the plate and walked to the house just to make you feel welcome and introduce ourselves. (We weren’t stalking you, honestly. We just know how good it felt to us to be welcomed by our neighbors — more than 20 years ago.) Your car was parked, the dogs barked (cute, cute dogs, by the way) and peered at us invitingly through the window, but you did not answer our ring. We rang again, considering it was likely futile because surely you heard the dogs barking, if not the doorbell. We were right. Futile. You did not answer the ring.
So, we thought, still giving you the benefit of the doubt, my husband doesn’t like me to answer the door when he isn’t home. Maybe you abide by those same sensible rules. We decided to wait until two cars were in the driveway. And I froze the brownies to await that occasion.
Which was today. I removed the brownies early this morning to thaw but waited until nearly lunch (this despite the fact that brownies make great breakfast food) before heading over to your house. You had two cars in the drive . The doorbell brought the two barking dogs, who again viewed me through the window beside the door — and then looked toward you (wherever you were hiding) as you called to quiet them.
I could hear you.
I took the brownies home, shot a photo of the plate of brownies that will grace my hips instead of your table, and wrote a blog post.
“You must be really mad if you’re writing a blog about this,” my son observed.
I’m not, really. I kind of understand not opening the door to strangers in this day and age. And yet the Bible says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (NASB).
I’m not feeling particularly angelic, so my new neighbors don’t need to regret entertaining me. But I do feel a bit disappointed.
Welcome to the neighborhood.