Some good first impression attempts just miss the mark

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” —Old saying

A questionable first impression as a neighbor that has always, you might say, “bugged me,” came to mind last week in a conversation. The topic was tales of good first impression attempts that went badly.

Right out of college and starting a new job, life was making a good impression on me when I bought my first house. Located on a quiet extension of Dogwood Street in Mount Pleasant, Texas, just around the corner from where I grew up, my closest neighbors were across the street.

Mr. and Mrs. Hoggatt were the nicest people anyone could ever want for neighbors. The retired couple with a “yard of the month” home set a high standard for me to follow as the newest neighborhood participant in the water, fertilize, mow and trim game.

While finishing my gourmet TV dinner one evening in my still sparsely furnished “castle,” the phone rang. “Hello, this is Mrs. Hoggatt across the street. We would like to come over and welcome you to the neighborhood if it’s convenient.”

“Sure,” I said. “Come on over.” I had met the Hoggatts once during high school and looked forward to making a good impression on them as their new neighbor. Hastily gathering up leftover aluminum TV dinner plates from previous meals, I carefully filed them under my used couch with copies of car magazines that had been lying here and there.

While dusting off one of the two pieces of furniture in one of my two furnished rooms, I got a glimpse of the tiny moth that flew out of the lampshade and fluttered around my head. I paid no attention as I swatted at him, but he gained my undivided attention once he winged his way into my ear.

I had no concept before that moment that one little moth, once inside your head, could create the acoustical resonance of the Texas A&M Aggie marching band.

First futile attempts to extract the critter with a cotton swab succeeded only in driving him deeper. “Float him out,” was my next plan of attack. My head was still in the sink with warm water running freely in my ear when I heard it.

“Ding-dong!”

“Was that the doorbell,” I wondered raising my drenched head from the sink? “The Hoggatts.” Hastily arranging wet hair with a towel did little to alter the effect of being soaked to the waist.

“Hello, please come in,” I said, stepping back from the door. I wondered what sort of picture I must have presented, but one look at their faces erased any doubt.

“I have furniture in this room,” I said directing them to the rear of the house where my “one couch and lamp den” was set up.

“Well, hasn’t it been hot lately,” Mr. Hoggatt offered as a conversational starter? “Yes, it has,” I responded, shaking my head to one side like a swimmer emerging from the pool, an action that served only to revive the soggy moth and provoke him to resume his thrashing around.

“And, you just graduated from East Texas State University,” Mrs. Hoggatt stated. “Yes, ma’am. That’s correct,” I said, “And I have a bug in my ear.”

“I beg your pardon,” they said simultaneously. “A moth … and he’s having a heyday in there,” I confessed.

Rising and moving toward the door, Mr. Hoggatt said, “We’ll get together another time. But, it’s been nice visiting with you.”

A trip to the ER quickly remedied the moth melee. What took a while longer was my second attempt at a more favorable first impression. Let’s just say there were some bugs that had to be worked out first.

 —Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas, Light and Champion and the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune newspapers.

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