Some past weekend, to keep the players anonymous I won’t say which or where or use real names, my husband and I were over at the Smiths (original, I know), for dinner. Joining us were the Jones who lived across the street from the Smiths. As dinner progressed and several bottles of wine were consumed, the Smiths and Jones began complaining about the tree/bush (we’ll call it a tree-bush) that the neighbors, the Kings, had planted right smack in the middle of their front yard. Now the Smiths, Jones, and Kings live in a planned development, and the planting of the tree-bush was in direct violation of the rules of that planned development, yet the community board had failed to take action. As the Kings were now absentee owners, the last renters had moved out, and everyone on the block wanted the tree removed, well into our fourth bottle of wine, Mr. Jones (egged on by Mr. Smith) decided to take action and left the house. Ten minutes later he returned in a “gardening shirt” with a handsaw that I’m fairly certain couldn’t manage to cut through a two by four. It being clear that he intended to tackle the tree-bush himself, my husband and I felt it necessary to half-heartedly protest the plan, thinking it had to be in violation of the community rules if not downright illegal (in Seattle you can’t cut a tree in your own yard without a permit). But let’s face it, we didn’t want to miss out on the fun, so when our protests landed on deaf ears we decided we could safely view the spectacle.
The six of us trekked across the street, wine glasses in hand. Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Jones and I decided to watch the show from the safety of the front porch, my husband got a bit more up close to the proceedings. Mr. Jones set his wine glass on his car with a flourish and headed toward the tree-bush with a swagger, saw in hand. After several minutes of hacking away at the tree-bush with the handsaw, it became rapidly apparent that Mr. Jones had never cut down a tree, much less a tree-bush in his life. My husband from the sidelines, always one to give advise, made useful comments like “a chainsaw would work better” and “I think you’re at the wrong angle.” Mr. Smith just told him to cut faster before someone saw them. The ladies and I watched from the porch, Mrs. Smith yelling out “Car” and causing us all to duck behind the low wall of the porch every time a car made a move on the adjacent street (no cars ever came down the street we were on).
When an incomplete but mostly all the way through cut had been made, Mr. Jones swung on the tree-bush to finish the job. The tree-bush fell to the ground with a crack leaving nothing but a split stump. Of course, then there was that little issue of what to do with the tree-bush. Throw it in the creek, Mrs. Smith encouraged. Throw it in the backyard and chop it up early in the morning and put it in yard-waste Mrs. Jones advised. As the debate raged, Mrs. Jones suddenly yelled out “The Branches are coming!” and she and Mrs. Smith made a rush for the front door, while Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith ran for the back door. My husband and I both momentarily paused wondering how the branches of the tree-brush could form a threat that required fleeing. We bolted for the doors closest to us when we discovered that the “Branches” were the neighbors out walking their dogs.
Minutes after our narrow escape from discovery by the “Branches,” the saw had been hidden, and Mrs. Smith, never one to sit still, decided to head back over to her house to fetch dessert. As she came out of the house to cross the street, the Branches greeted her with a friendly hello and “I see that tree-bush is finally gone. Thank God.”
I’m told the stump was made to look more presentable in the wee hours of the morning and the tree-bush was disposed of – not in the creek. It strikes me, however, that as we grow older and dubiously wiser, the list of things not to do while drinking expands. So, in addition to the age old wisdom of not drunk dialing and the more recent advise against drunk texting, it now appears we have to add drunk pruning into the mix.