Sometimes we go looking for trouble. Sometimes trouble comes looking for us. And sometimes we deliberately bring trouble into our homes ...
Quite by accident, while dining out, I overheard a careful conversation between a husband and a wife. And since I have this column to fill weekly, I covertly leaned closer to accurately capture the essence, as well as each word, of what they whispered.
"I'm at my wits end," the woman said. "Trouble is on the loose everyday and sits in the doorway, where I get my feet tangled in it."
Scooting my chair nearer to hear better, it scraped across the floor, and they both looked at me. I mouthed "sorry," and feigned looking for my fork under the table.
When things settled down, the man replied to his wife, sympathetically, "I know, I know. I nearly ran into Trouble backing out of the driveway yesterday. I wonder if the neighbors are having any trouble."
"Probably, more than we think," said his companion. "Mr. Dempsey, two doors down, told me he had to ward Trouble off with a broom while rolling down his garage door. And Trouble managed to squeeze in anyway."
By now I was truly intrigued. The whole story resonated with a Stephen King quality - some intangible entity nicknamed Trouble terrorizes the townsfolk in an otherwise cloistered and innocent community. Before I knew it I murmured, a little louder than I should have, "Ch-ching, jackpot."
The couple turned and looked at me, startled that we nearly knocked noses. Without them noticing, I had crept not only my chair, but my entire table so close to theirs that the two were virtually seamless. I avoided eye contact, however, and fumbled in my purse for a notepad.
"Anyway," said the wife, speaking now in a low mumble, while eyeing me writing furiously, "last Saturday, Trouble jolted out of the ditch, knocked Abby on her face and left muddy tracks across her back. We barely made it to the house before Trouble returned. Trouble, it turns out, was chasing Mischief."
"Is Mischief okay?" asked her ally.
"And today Trouble dragged Andrew down the street," she continued, without pause, "causing a gash in his leg . . . Honey, Trouble is unpredictable. I really think we must do something."
Unable to contain myself any longer, and picturing a neighborhood lynch mob carrying torches through the night, determined to rid their town of Trouble, I spoke up in my most congenial voice. "It sounds like trouble follows you wherever you go."
Naturally, they stared at me, a stranger, sitting in their personal space and now barging into their intimate exchange. But the lady of the house finally said, "Trouble has a crimp in its tail where I slammed it in the door."
"Wow," I responded, nodding and taking notes, "sounds like you've had a lot of close calls with Trouble. What do you plan to do?"
Inspiration lit up the eyes of my female counterpart. "Hey," she asked, in a confidential, yet menacing, tenor, "do you want Trouble?"
"Yeah," her husband agreed. "You look like you could use a little Trouble. And how about Mischief, too," he added, glancing stealthily at his wife for approval.
Scared and stammering, "N-n-n-n-o-o-o-o," I clumsily stood and attempted, with difficulty, to drag my table and chair away.
"What's the matter," they taunted, "you're not a dog person?"
Momentarily, the waitress arrived, "Will this be on one ticket or two?"
"One," I exclaimed and grabbed it, hoping to bribe my way out of Trouble.