Friday, January 05, 2007


Wonder what I've been doing today? Let me tell you about my day.

It was dark, the kind of dark that gave me no idea what time of night it was. Could have been 3 am, could have been 6 am. My dog and I both had to go to the bathroom.

Once I got downstairs, a voice called my mother’s name. I thought it was my dad with his croaky voice, since he’s had a very bad cold this week. I answered that it was me, and when I left the bathroom to take the dog outside, I realized that the person sitting in my Dad’s easy chair was not my dad.

Melvin had been a draft dodger during the Viet Nam war. In his travels in Ontario, he found out about these Mennonites who don’t believe in going to war and fighting and killing people for any cause. A large group of Mennonite leaders were gathering for a conference at that time to discuss the war and alternatives to fighting, and my grandfather was one of them. Melvin somehow reached my grandpa, talked his ear off, and managed to impress him enough for Grandpa to take him under his wing.

That’s the thing with my family. We’re not just good Mennonites, we’re the kind of Christians that Jesus would be proud of because we take in all the stray dogs and lepers and possessed people.

For decades, every couple of years, Melvin has gotten in whatever run down car he’s driving, taken a perilous journey up from the United States, showed up at the home of one of my Grandpa’s adult children, and plopped himself down for a chat.

Melvin does not stop talking. Unless he takes a fit of narcolepsy and falls asleep, or gets distracted by the TV, which in our house was never on at all times, or if the person being talked at walks away, he is talking.

The man is like a motion sensor light. If a physical body moves into his range, the switch is tripped and he starts talking. He seems to have a list of topics ready to go as soon as the switch goes, and he’s off, talk talk talk. If the person being talked at walks away his mouth stops and his face goes blank. Just waiting for the talked at to come back.

So this morning at whatthehelloclock, I’m standing in the middle of my parent’s living room, blinking at this strange man who is sitting in my Dad’s rocking chair. This does not compute. He has just materialized. No warning, no phone call, no discussion, just...he’s there. All wrinkled and rumpled and sitting there in the dark. I said that I had to take my dog to the bathroom and he wants to know all about my dog and what his name is and that he saw the long leash outside and that’s great becauuse then I don’t have to walk him and I’m shuffling across the room in my slippers for the door. I don’t want to talk. Not to anybody, not at darkoclock in the morning, and not to him.

I watched for the dog out the window, brought him back in, and muttered something about morning before heading back upstairs, totally confused and quite a bit weirded out.

I got into bed and poked my husband in the shoulder.

“I’m not sure if it’s a figment of my imagination, but I’m pretty sure there’s a crazy man from Chicago in my Dad’s chair.”

“Did you talk to him?”

“Tried not to.”

“Did he talk to you?”


“Well then it wasn’t your imagination.”

I wasn’t so sure. My dreams and figments often do talk to me. But as I lay there in the dark I got more and more freaked out.

There were rumours that Melvin was on his way up here way back at the beginning of December, but he didn’t show up. My mother told me just today that Melvin has showed up at my aunt’s house, totally unannounced, then promptly disappeared, resulting in my aunt reporting him missing and middle of the night phone calls and everything. Not a word from Melvin, until all of a sudden he shows up in the dark early this morning.

I tried to sleep but the questions rolled in my head. Would my mother have a heart attack when she left her room and found him sitting there like a giant frog? Would the kids wake up and bounce down the steps and wonder wide eyed who the hell this greasy person was? Should I call the cops? And why the hell wasn’t that door locked? Who went to bed last? Who left that door unlocked???

And furthermore, what kind of person shows up in the dark at the home of somebody he hasn’t seen in about eight years and then walks in and gets comfy, waiting like a lump until the people in the house wake up?

Answer: Melvin.

After finally falling back asleep, I woke up late; it was almost 9 am. After checking the kid’s room I freaked out that they’d been cornered by a Melvin conversation. I’m pretty sure he’s basically harmless, but I’ve always felt uneasy around him. I threw my clothes on and raced downstairs. There they all were, my folks and kids, quietly eating their cereal while Melvin told them everything he knew about the Kellogg’s Corporation and how in the United States they sell Finding Nemo cereal which is basically just Cheerios but in a different package. I could have told him that Kellogg’s doesn’t make Cheerios and that he’s completely full of crap but I didn’t want to make any reason for his voice to continue droning.

He has completely ruined the Midwest American accent for me. Forever.

When told that Mom had to work today, and that the kids and I had to go into town for a few hours to get some barn supplies, and that my Aunt couldn’t entertain him today, he seemed surprised and put out. Then he announced that he really needed a bath.

I glanced sideways at my mother. I admired the restraint she practiced to keep from visibly shuddering with revulsion.

She and I rounded up the kids and high tailed it outta there as quick as we could. I had a chest pain so bad I wanted to eat six Ativan tablets but I didn’t want to fall asleep. I couldn’t even swear in front of my kids. I kept talking to Jesus. As in, Sweet Jesus, why is that man here, and Jesus please tell me why he thinks it’s okay to walk into the house like that?

We’re back from town now, she’s at work, Dad’s out in his shop, and we have no idea where Melvin is.

Or when he’ll amble back here with his booming voice and expressionless eyes, expecting a meal and a place to sleep.

So by now we’re all asking why we put up with this. Part of the reason is because we are cursed with niceness. Me not so much anymore...after my breakdown and continuing recovery I am less and less tolerant of everything and I don’t like people as much as I used to.

Part of it is pity. He has nobody.

Part of it is compassion. We have this thing where we feel like we need to be good to people who need some goodness.

Part of it is guilt.

Part of it is obligation. My grandparents tolerated regular visits from this guy. They were God’s people, I’m telling you, prisoner visiting, hospital visiting, praying with you and for you kind of people. They would take in the scum of the earth that nobody else would touch, and care about those weirdos and losers just simply because they could. And believed that Jesus wanted it that way.

Well I kinda wish Jesus would get in Melvin’s beat up decrepit car with him and direct him to a nice place where he can talk to nice men in white coats. Not that there’s anything wrong with places like that. Some of my best friends have visited places like that and I maybe should have too a couple of times. I just kinda wish Jesus would take care of Melvin right now so my mom wouldn’t have to. Melvin could use some Jesus attention. Seriously.

I wonder this evening if my grandparents would be ashamed of me for having so little patience with this annoying soul grinding irritating boring grimy slimy person. I’m sorry Grandma but you were a better person than I am. I wish I had your capacity to care. I’m sorry Grandpa that I hate being in the same room with Melvin.

And hey, Jesus, I’m sorry...I just am. Sorry for being sorry. But honestly Jesus I just feel like you would have at least given us some notice first.

In any case, Jesus said that by helping the least of these we honour him. There’s a used towel draped over the edge of the tub. Melvin seems to have had a bath while we were out. So there you go Jesus, now you can add my mother to your list.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not against weird people. I myself am slightly weird. I love eccentric, off kilter, fragile, and even unhinged. But blankly, droningly, selfishly weird, I can’t deal with.

So, about twelve hours after Melvin sat there in the dark like a frog faced buddha, I have supper in mom’s oven and the chest pain has dulled to a little ache halfway down my ribcage. We’ve got a movie ready to pop in the machine in case he comes back expecting entertainment. We’ve told the kids to not start a conversation with him. Mom is going to tell him that he has to go to someone else’s house tomorrow. The other Aunts have all been notified and are probably right now on the phone working out how to juggle Melvin until he decides to go home.

All of this is true. And no, I don’t think I’ll ever feel like writing a novel about it.


Heidi the Hick said...

My dog is a better person than me too.

He's having a right good time playing with our guest.


Heidi the Hick said...

He's playing the piano too. Kill me now.

dilling said...

creepy...I would have closed the blinds and curtains, turned off the lights and locked the door...what movie will you be watching? I know you don't think much of King Kong, but it a long, long one....

Angel said...

DON'T DESPAIR! That sounds like the kind of shit that would happen to me!

Life, or Something Like It said...

My God. OMG. Seriously, Heidi, you and yours are so much better than I am. Seriously. I have kicked my own mother out of the house on more than one occassion. You know it.
I was thinking that Melvin was another guy, but you said that he is basically harmless. Maybe. He's still creepy as hell.
You know, they have men in white coats and showers at the hospital. Just saying.

Heidi the Hick said...

Dilling, honey, I couldn't shut down the lights because he was already in the house. In the house. Walked into the house. Now he's talking about the health care system in the US vs Canada. And how babies being born in Detroit are unhealthy and my cousin's babies are healthy because they were born in Ontario.

My dad is taking the onslaught of words like a solid hero of a man.

CARS shut him up for awhile...

Angel...it's happened before...we thought maybe he wouldn't be back...we can survive, we can survive...

Biddie, OMG is right, my mother, yes my good mother Sally the good person, has been muttering the dreaded F word under her breath. That and lots of praying, oh my GOD Jesus.

Melvin is not who you at first thought he is, Biddie- if he was I would have freaked so bad I'd have woken up the whole house. Well that wouldn't happen because that other person has serious limitations and restrictions. But this guy is becoming a problem.

That hospital is sounding like a nice place. If Melvin doesn't go, my mom and I might.

Heidi the Hick said...


Apparently when you report someone missing, if that person turns up you need to call the cops back and let them know. So, in about a half hour, there will be police here to have a nice little chat with Melvin. They'll get to hear all about the American health care system. How long it takes to die in an Ontario haaspital as opposed to a Canadian haaspital

they're here gotta go.

Heidi the Hick said...

Okay, 11:15 pm. The two nice police officers (who I add were young handsome and friendly yet business like) got all the information and phone numbers of all the Aunties who are juggling Melvin this weekend god help us sweet Jesus we're such good christians. Melvin reluctantly and slightly belligerently gave up his info, bellowing the whole time about how my aunt had no right to declare him missing in Chicago because he's estranged from his family and then the cop says that if she reports him to Toronto police then THEY contact Chicago and clearly this guy is off the rails. Not in a fun crazy way.

Jethro's at work. I wish he was here. The kids aren't sleeping in their room; they're in with me and the dog. They came out here for a fun holiday and instead got a hard lesson in compassion, creepiness, good heartedness, and in my case, two facedness, because I say all these things and I do feel sorry for this sad sack but I want him the heck out of my mom's house.

So I'm really tired and feel like I've been hiding from something all day. Running. Hiding. And shuddering a lot.

Like even the cops. They knew. They knew this guy's not playing with a full sandwich. A few bricks short of a picnic. knowwhat I'mm saying????

Heidi the Hick said...

Also my parents only have frickin dial up out here.

Heidi the Hick said...

Although my dog really is a good soul. When Melvin curled up on the couch and pretended to be asleep- what better way to avoid dealing with impending law enforcement? -- my dog curled up with him. My dog is a good soul.

I told Melvin that when he gets home (Please sweet Jesus soon!) that he should volunteer to go to the Humane Society and pet dogs and take them for walks. Then I felt kinda bad for the Humane Society for unleashing Melvin on them. But maybe a lost soul like him can feel better with some unconditional friendly dog souls to interact with.

He can tell them aall about Paalitics and the Chicaago haaspital system, these daags will listen to aall of it.

I'm going to deadbolt my bedroom door now. G'nite.

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh wait. One more thing.


Don't care much for drama.

When I git mah own prawpity...Nah GIT OFF!

No drama. One of these every 20 years is too much.

He has known us for 35 years and still can't pronounce our family's surname. grrrrrrr.


ya hear me now?


Tod said...

Crikey, finding a man in a chair in the dark is how a lot of horror movies start. I guess the reality is more drawn out and just kind of talks you to death. I hope you have managed to get rid of him by now.

On the funny side:
[Then I felt kinda bad for the Humane Society for unleashing Melvin on them.]

Thanks for the mental image of Melvin taking ten barking dogs for a walk and having a chat with them all at the same time!

her indoors said...

well if you didnt do drama out there before you sure do now! dont think i would have oped with that one at all, pity the cops didnt take him away!

Stepping Over the Junk said...

Oh my...we must all have a relative who makes us feel this way, but he seems like a unique one!! You're justified to have all those feelings, for sure. I am totally laughing that he was just sitting there all night (ahem, LOCK THE DOORS NEXT TIME!) and the conversation about the cereal is killing me!!

captain corky said...

When I was a yougin sleeping over at my grand parent's house, my great grandfather used to come into the living room and would just sit down in his chair at like 3 o'clock in the morning. It scared the crap out of me one time.

Melvin sounds like a real freak... But just incase I get drafted can you please e-mail me your address, and please stock your cabinets with Frosted Flakes or Corn Flakes. I promise not to talk too much.

PS. I added you to my Roll Call.

Life, or Something Like It said...

So what else can the police do? Maybe he needs to be looked at by someone in the mental health field. Yo uhave an an that does that kinds thing, right? (She almost caught me once!) He should wander over to her place.
I know that Sally DOES NOT do drama. I know that it's awful, and yes, I will probably go to hell, but the thought of Sally swearing under her breath makes me smile.
Your day was still worse than mine.

Life, or Something Like It said...

My gawd, how feverish am I ? I meant to say that you have an aunt in that field. AN AUNT. Sheesh.

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh my god, sweet jesus, see look at me I'm still praying.

As for my aunt who works in Mental health (Yeah Biddie, I actually did figure out what you were trying to say...what does that say about our telepathy...) Melvin doesn't really seem to go visit them much and we don't know why.

Also Biddie you should ask Sally some time about Melvin only call him Don and see what she says. My mom uttering curse words. Yeah.

Heidi the Hick said...


He's gone but sadly I don't expect forever.

This morning at breakfast he said that Chicago doesn't have any Polish or German food stores anymore because all you can buy in Chicago is refried beans. Melvin hates refried beans.

Did I mention I am not making any of this up?

So he says that if you go south from Illinois you'll be in Louisville Kentucky and then you can't understand a word. Not a word. And none of those southern people will be elected because nobody can understand their accent.

Ok just let that sink in for a moment.


So I said, "Bill Clinton has an accent and he ran for president."

Both my parents looked like they were trying to swallow their grins.

Melvin promptly went on the tell us how in Canada everybody speaks English except in Quebec, and how he can see why they're so stubborn about keeping their language because it's a dying language and by the year 3000 nobody on this planet will be speaking French.

I really hope you're sitting down when you're reading this.

I started snapping my fingers and pointing. "Na na hhna in the maritimes they speak french! Eastern Canada! They speak French!"

Melvin: OH! Really! Oh! I didn't know that.

Me: And Gaelic. French, English and Gaelic.

Dad: What exactly is Gaelic?

Me: Irish and Scottish native language

Melvin: It's the most ridiculous sounding language in the world (proceeds to stand up and imitate Gaelic. My mother is pink faced and appears to be swallowing her tongue.)

The unsaid rule is don't argue with this guy because, well, it's futile, but I'm not as nice as I used to be and besides, look at the comedy I've mined at his expense! I might go to hell for making fun of him over the internet but I really need the laugh today. I'm serious. I need the laugh.

So eventually today he'll make it over to my other Aunt's house and they might take him to visit the other family hanger on that isn't allowed in the same building as my kids and if there's one bright spot today it's this:

My aunt told me that Grandma has a hard time with Melvin too. She got tired of the nonstop jabber and the slothiness and the way he expected to be waited on.

Melvin's a lost soul, and sometimes people like him need a little hospitality and care. Sometimes it's really hard to give.

I love my Aunt but I hope Melvin stays at her house tonight cuz we've had enough. My kids are feeling totally ripped off that he was here to put the damper on the last days of their Christmas holidays. And they're kinda ripped off that I made them stay in bed upstairs when the cops came.

I"m so glad he didn't come to the feed mill with us this morning. Gawwwwwd.

My parents don't even have any booze in their house. Geez. Ok see ya I'm gonna go have some ativan. and a deep breath.

dilling said...

holy moly, I need some ativan, too...i am totally creeped out here...i just went and locked MY door.

Life, or Something Like It said...

Holy crap, Heidi. Give him Steve's address if he's ever out east.
Sally swearing.

WANTED: Daily Drama Fix said...

hmm. I would be quite creeped out by the whole thing. Really really creeped out.

Heidi the Hick said...


6pm. We get a call from him, lost in my aunt's town (about a half hour drive from here) and he wants my dad to call my aunt and get off the phone so he can call her and get directions to her house.

He left here at about 1pm.

where the hell has he been for 5 hours? My aunt's town isn't that big. you'd find your way in 5 hours.

The lights are off, the door's locked, I feel like a prisoner in my mom's house, the house I grew up in, and I don't like it. I want him to go home.

The good news is the horses are in a ddry clean barn and we're going to watch You Me & Dupree about an unwelcome but funny and charming houseguest.

I'd rather wake up to find Owen Wilson in my Dad's easy chair any day.

Just saying.


Danke Shane said...

Locking my damn doors from now on.

cara winsor hehir said...

wow. wild.
we have a melvin. her name is sandra. we don't let her in the house anymore.
she yells at us. tells us were rotten. we tell her to go away and then we go through the call the cops to report her, and then call the white coats to come take her home...
yip, i feel your pain...

Life, or Something Like It said...

Guess what? I got 5/10 on my grade 8 math! yay! Mind you, I guessed at every one. Crap, I didn't even understand what they wanted! I was told there would be no math!

Heidi the Hick said...

gah! Math! At least yo were brave enough to take it and you're smarter than me!!

Well it's 10:30 and my hair's washed and Sunday clothes ready to go and no unwelcome visitor.

We're all coming down from a huge frazzle fest. Man. Even my dad looked stressed. That doesn't happen easily.

It's been difficult but we gotta let it go now. Dad figures we've irritated him enough by getting the cops involved that he won't bug us anymore.

I hope he has a safe trip back to his home, starts volunteering at the dog pound, and goes back on his meds. Or gets new ones.

I myself am now looking for a place on a dead end dirt road with lots of trees around it or possbily even a repellant force shield around it.


dragonfly183 said...

you know. i have a friend thats kind of like that. Well she isn't really a friend, she is someone that i wish would go away and never return. i'm just to nice to tell her that. At least melvin doesn't drink most of your liquer and steal any prescritpion drugs he can find like my crazy lady does.

Heidi the Hick said...

Nah, just eats and talks and sleeps on the couch with his shoes on.

My mom told him he had to sleep somewhere else tonight. All of my dad's sisters have been on the phone with us and each other.

Kids, we can be nice to people and hope for the best for them but sometimes we gotta tell them to just please go now.

nighty night

Smartypants said...

This is sad. Your family has more patience than me.

Now, make sure your doors are locked, ok? = )

Happy New Year, sweetheart!

Balloon Pirate said...

There is a line between being charitable being taken advantage of. Yeah, I ended that sentence in a preposition. Deal with it. Hell, I'll say it again:
There is a line between being charitable and being taken advantage of.

And this guy crossed it sometime in the Reagan Administration.

Rules can be set. Boundaries can be put up.

"No" can be said.

good luck.


Notsocranky Yankee said...

Wow, what an ordeal! I would've mentioned to the cops (when Melvin was listening) that he came into your parents' house uninvited, in the middle of the night. Tell Melvin you will have him arrested if he breaks in again -- what would have happened if one of your kids had been up to let the dog out?

I bet he wasn't as aggravating when your grandfather took him in. I'm sure it takes more patience to deal with him now.

I like the motion-senser description. I can just picture it. I would have to walk in and out of the room just to make him start and stop tallking. I guess that's not very nice huh?

Heidi the Hick said...

Yeah...I think the patience has worn through, folks.

It's Sunday, far as I know he's on his way home, and he got a polite firm talk from my mom about boudaries and phone calls and invitations (or lack thereof)

I may have sufficiently pissed him off that he won't be back any time soon.

I am so thankful that it was me that got up and found him, even if it gave me a monster anxiety attack that has lasted for, oh, three days now.

When my peaceful mellow ol man gets frazzled you know it's bed. Old Melvin there doesn't get social cues very well, obviously, but my Dad was very blunt with him.

But hey, there is one upside to this. I spent lots of time in the barn getting away from it all and working off the chest pain. You should see the barn walls. Cobweb free. Barn hasn't been that clean in...well...it's just pretty darn clean now.

My mom is doing much better too now, since telling him where it's at and sending him on his way.

I checked the door lock about twenty times last night....

coffeypot said...

I can feel your pain. Over the years we, too, have had our share of taking in stray animals, lepers and strange people (mostly teenagers). I hate the lepers, though. They never take their missing parts with them when the leave. Fingers and toes, tips of noses, or an ear everywhere.

But no matter if you a Mennonite, atheist, Christian or Jew, if you help make someone’s life a little better – well - you are out of a lot of money and patience. Next time use a water hose first.

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh my gosh, you guys are all so great. Thanks for commiserating, or sympathizing, or telling me to smarten and and tell him off, or whatever!!

So now that it's over- yep, back to somewhat normal around here- my mom and dad and I are kind of stunned but dealing. My sister got away with Melvin- free this weekend!!!!

Heres' where I'm at: my grandparents were good people who found a way to care for those who weren't cared about by anyone else. Don't saint them- they found it hard too.

My parents live in the house that used to be the grandparent's house. They've kept up the tradition of loving the not so loveables. That includes other people's prodigal kids and even a boyfriend I had that ended up homeless but I won't get into that now. Basically, It's not easy but it can be very worth it. Sometimes we make a difference, sometimes we get burned...

...then you get one of these who is just so unloveable.

Well it's easy to love only the nice people. Where's the challenge there?

It's been reeeeeall difficult. He's on his way home with our prayers that he gets there safely....


Yeah that's right. We're praying that he doesn't come back.

Dad assures me I won't go to hell because I've been blogging about Melvin and imitating his Chicaago aaccent and I don't really care cuz I feel like I was in hell already this weekend.

Dad also says that Jesus would handled Melvin by asking all kinds of questions.

Then we wondered if Jesus could have gotten a word in edgewise.

Well It's my last night at the farm for awhile. Horses tucked up in the barn, kids in their bedroom, mom and dad watching Desperate Housewives like all good retired farmers do, with a pug on Mom's feet...

Thanks for sharing my misery!!!! Mom found this all very amusing.

Now remember if I find any of you in my living room in the middle of the night I swear I will go all non-pacifist anti mennonite on your hinnerschter and plug it fulla lead, git offa my prawwwwpityyyyyy!!!!

hugs, people. Peace. I gotta go see what's going on at Wisteria lane. Suckers. I bet they never get crazy people in their living rooms. Jeeeeezzzzzzuuuzzzzaaah!

LeRoy Dissing said...

Melvin sounds like a gem with probably a major personality disorder. Some of your commentors are absolutely correct in that the only way to deal with someone like this is to set boundaries...and a good one is the BORDER. He should make like Taco Bell...and make a run for the border.

I hope you won't hold Melvin against all midwesterners. I am from Wisconsin and I know you will never see me in your living room in the dark....and if you ever did, you have my permission to shoot me. I can't believe anyone would do that and not expect to get shot - either accidentally or on purpose. You were very kind Hiedi to him. Hopefully not too kind so that he thinks he can come back sometime soon. Let's hope the rest of 2007 is Melvin-free for you and your family!

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh leroy, despite my comment about ruining the accent, I have met other Midwesterners who are lovely people. In fact, every American person I've met has been a really great person.

He does have problems, we know it, but you can't help somebody who doesn't want to be helped.

Yeah, I don't think he'll be back soon. I don't think he'll come within a day's drive of Toronto after this week. I hope he stays on his meds and volunteers at the dog shelter and stays close to home.


Regardless of it all, your entire family, yourself included - SAINTS!! All of you! I think I would have lost it completely and melted into the furniture. Your Melvin reminds me of most of the homeless and insane veterans I have met taking my dad to the VA hospitals here. It is very difficult to keep composure and be kind. I hate to see folks in that kind of insane brain, and try to be nice and offer a few smokes or somethin, but inside I am completely creeped out and a little scared like a little kid. You done good. Even if it took a few more ativan to tolerate, and I am glad for you that he went home!!! :)

The Adult in Question said...

I'm sorry, but the whole time I have been reading this I have been laughing. Really hard and I'm in the middle of class and the teacher is lecturing. Here I am laughing.