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Big Fat Freddy Is Always Ready
Everyone should have a neighbor like Freddy! He's the go to guy for help fixing a clogged drain. He and his wife Nan throw the best BBQs on the block. He will be out driving his snowplow way before the city crews get started, on deep snow mornings. He cuts his grass in the afternoon when everyone is up, (instead of like the neighbor on the other side, who seems to prefer to do his at the crack of dawn), and boy can Freddy dance!
We got to know Freddy when we moved into our home eight years ago. Before the rented moving truck was half way unloaded, Freddy was in our driveway introducing himself and telling us if we needed anything just to give him a shout. He stayed just long enough to be friendly and thoughtful, and not long enough to annoy tired people who were trying to finish up a hard and monotonous job.
That's another thing about Freddy, he has perfect timing. Once I left my car's headlights on when I went to the mall, so when I came out three hours later, I had a dead battery. Well before I could whip out my cell phone, up drives Freddy. He rolled down his window to say "Hi neighbor", and I asked, "Do you have jumper cables Freddy"? Naturally he did!
When we go on vacation, Freddy gets the mail for us, and waters the roses. He volunteers at his church to drive the bus that picks up kids and old folks. Freddy is just an all around good guy. But man! Can Freddy dance!
I don't know how much Freddy weighs, but he would make at least two of my husband, who is no small slip of a man himself. Freddy is round. He has the typical double chin, the hearty laugh, the sparkle in his eye. And Freddy has twinkle toes like no other! Fred Astair has nothing on our Freddy!
The first time I ever saw Freddy dance we bumped into him and Nan at the annual street dance after the rodeo. It was a warm evening, and they waved from across the crowd. We waved back. Then a few minuets later, there was Freddy and Nan doing a quick two step like they were floating on air! I was amazed. Freddy was as graceful as a swan. His timing as he lead Nan in circles to the music was picture perfect!
Next, the band played a waltz. Now I like to waltz. I have always considered it a very elegant dance. Well Freddy wrote the book on that one too! He twirled Nan round and round and round, with each step more beautiful than the one before. It was grace and style in motion!
Later we noticed Freddy in the line dance, right out front. Again he never missed a beat. He had every move! And the smile on his face told the whole world he was having a blast!
The next time I saw Freddy dance he was doing the moonwalk of all things! It was at a benefit where a DJ provided the music. I have to say, Freddy was every bit as agile and limber as Micheal Jackson on his best day!
Now it may sound funny hearing about a big fat guy being a dancing machine. But there is nothing funny about Freddy dancing! That boy can boogie!
One afternoon while Nan and I had a glass of tea on the front porch, I asked her how Freddy got to be such a great dancer. "Don't you dare tell Freddy I told you this, but..." She told me the whole story.
Right after she and Freddy got back from their honeymoon, (they had been high school, then college sweethearts), he was in a terrible car accident. A drunk driver ran a red light in a pick up. He hit Freddy's car broadside, at a high speed. Freddy's car was crushed. Getting him out had taken the rescue workers a very long time. His legs had been crushed as bad as the car. He had internal injuries as well, and it had been touch and go for over a week.
When the doctors told Freddy he might never walk again, Nan said he cried like a baby. He had been on the football team in high school. He ran track. He was a star athlete in his district. He loved the water and skied, swam, and fished. "You just couldn't kept him still", Nan told me.
She said he layed in the hospital bed staring at the wall for two days after the news. He wouldn't talk to her or his folks. He was like a goast.
On the third day, while still looking at the wall, Freddy apologized to Nan. He said he was sorry for not dancing with her at all the homecoming dances, and at prom. He apologized for his half hearted attempt at their wedding reception. And he promised he would make it up to her. She began to cry and told him not to worry about that sort of thing.
She said when Freddy turned his head and looked at her, he was smiling. He said, "Baby, I promise. You and I will dance."
It turns out Freddy has more hardware in both his legs than the Handy Man store! He has steal plates, bolts, an artificial knee, and pins in his hip. He was in traction for months, had repeated surgeries, was bedridden for almost a year, and spent painful month, after painful month doing physical rehab.
Nan said he kept a Walkman with him all the time, and started just tapping his feet at first. She said he started watching ballroom dancing, and musicals on TV. He bought the movie Dirty Dancing and almost wore it out. "Anything he could get his hands on related to dancing, he grabbed", she told me with a laugh.
"Oh he got fat while he was recovering" she said. "And he worried about that. But I told him there was just more to love". We both giggled. "He took me dancing as soon as the doctors gave him the go ahead to try. And while we were on the floor for the first time, he fell down. But he got up as if nothing had happened, and we finished the song. So... we have been dancing ever since! And don't you dare let on that I told you. He doesn't like anyone to brag on him". I gave her my word.
After that afternoon, I looked at Freddy in a whole new light. Oh I loved Freddy before. He was just the sweetest, kindest, most neighborly person you could ever want to meet. He coined the phrase "Big fat Freddy is always ready", himself! But after I learned what he had been through, I found a deep and abiding respect for his determination. Knowing he had grabbed the bull by the horns and willed himself to do what he was told was near impossible.
Freddy didn't become bitter or let himself be defeated. No, Freddy danced!