Just over the hill from us lives our neighbor, Cletus, a gentleman in his early 50s. Cletus lives with his mother, brother, and sister, and makes his living doing odd jobs and yard work for folks in our town. Cletus is a very friendly guy who talks to everyone he encounters. It is not uncommon to experience confusion and uncertainty when speaking with Cletus...as a matter of fact, it would be more alarming if you didn't experience confusion and uncertainty during a conversation with him.
Cletus has a very difficult time remembering my name even though we have lived next door to him for 10 years now. So, every time he sees me, we have the following chat:
Cletus: Hi neighbor!
Me: Hi Cletus. How are you doing today?
Cletus: I can't ever remember your name, so I just call you neighbor.
Me: Oh, well, my name is Marci.
Cletus: Marci. Got it.
Me: Have a good day.
Cletus: You too. You look pretty today.
Me: Thank you. See you later.
Other, less predictable conversations with Cletus are a frequent occurrence as he does yard work for our other next door neighbor. Hence this gem about two years ago on a summer afternoon:
Cletus: Hi neighbor!
Me: Hi Cletus.
Cletus: Hey, it's my birthday.
Me: Oh, yeah? Well, happy birthday.
Cletus: Yep, I'm the big 5-0-0 today.
Me: Wow. Well, happy birthday, Moses.
And yet another head-scratching exchange in the backyard while he was raking leaves:
Cletus: Hi neighbor. We had to take my brother to the mergency room last night.
Me: Oh my! What happened?
Cletus: Well, they said he has stepicitis.
Cletus: Stepicitis. Real bad pain in his belly.
Cletus: Nope, stepicitis.
Cletus: No. Stepicitis. You know, when you have too much food in your stomach but you haven't eaten for a while.
Me: (extremely confused) Oh. Well, I hope he feels better soon.
My husband and son had an interesting talk with Cletus one evening while my son was playing outside:
Son: Hey, Cletus, what's your favorite bug?
Cletus to my husband: Did he ask me what my favorite color was?
Husband to Cletus: No, he asked you what your favorite bug is.
Cletus: Oh, it's blue.
Husband: Mine too!
If you feel confused or didn't understand these conversations, you are not alone. Even though we have had time to re-think and process these verbal exchanges, my husband and I are still shaking our heads, chuckling, and sighing. But, we always end by smiling and saying, "Good ol' Cletus."
* - the name has been changed to protect the innocent hillbilly.