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New years and new neighbors

Bunted on January 2, 2022.

With the new year came a new neighbor: Six houses down, across the street, a little to the left. As I awoke groggily—still hung over from partying like it was 1999—I peered out my window and spied a moving van. My heart leapt into my throat; I squeed with gusto and glee: I would soon have a new new neighbor to befriend! And with 2021 wound up and COVID-19 dying down to a dull gurgle, perhaps finally I would stop dying every week.

The van had stopped moving. Was it dead? Yet I knew it had been moving, so that was good enough for me—it was indeed a moving van. And that meant a new neighbor! Realizing I had no time to lose, I scurried frantically around my palatial abode, gathering party supplies and other celebratory materials—a veritable tornado of festivalorism. I found all my party balloons, party hats, party horns, party balloon-hats, party favors, and party flavors. I was all out of leis and deely-bobbers alas, but I didn’t let that get me down. I grabbed a handful of old bottle caps instead. I pulled a bundt cake out of my freezer and stenciled “Welcome neighbor!” across the packaging in my most elegantly puerile scribble. Continuing my effervacious scrivenings, I made a welcome banner of a similar nature using the sharpest of Sharpies that I owned, and then I made a welcome mat, a welcome hat, and even a welcome wall gong. Not yet knowing the man’s name, I contemplated ponderously for a moment—and then simply made something up. I was sure that he would be so overjoyed that his new neighbor was welcoming him so thoroughly to Bouillabaisse Boulevard that he wouldn’t object to my ex nihilo appellation for him.

Amassing everything in one giant heap in my tyrannosaurus-like arms, I scampered wobbily toward my frontmost front door. “Gugelhupf!” I swore mightily as I realized that the bundt cake was still frozen solid. I dropped everything and flew back into my kitchen, cake in hand. Being the ever-clever Grand Pnårpissimo, I had just the solution. Three minutes later, still atwitter with gusto and glee and only a bit singed around the edges, I rushed out my front door and down my driveway, all my welcoming party supplies in hand or on head. Down the street I tore like a flash: My new new neighbor’s abode my destination.

doG willing, I was grimly determined to throw my new-new neighbor the biggest, bestest, and most surreally confusing party he’d ever seen. I was known far and wide (around my tiny little town) for both throwing and crashing the bestest of parties. I had a reputation to uphold, and my new2 neighbor was just the man I needed to be on the receiving end of such reputation-upholding!

“Welcome to the neighborhood, Gnaddeus Underdong McDoggerel Kleinbutt!” I blew mightily on my party horn, throwing my arms wide in a gesture of Pnårply welcome. I had intercepted him as he emerged from his front door, some meaningless task or errand likely on his mind. But now was the time for a party! The items I carried clattered to the ground in a most jarring manner. A couple movers stopped and gave me curious looks. Gnaddeus didn’t quite seem to know what to make of my gleeful welcomry either. He just stopped and stared at this bizarre, goat-shaped man standing on his front steps, grinning idiot-like. I blew on my party horn again, three times.

I then unfurled the welcome banner I had made, unrolling it across his lawn with the utmost ceremonious pomposity. Had I sufficient foreknowledge of this new neighbor’s arrival, he instead would have found my welcomry mowed right into his lawn. But on such short notice, a banner made out of old trash bags taped and sharpied together would suffice.

Gnaddeus was still standing there, making that all-too-common fish-gulping gesture with his human-like mouth. I bent down and rifled through the pile of gifts I had brought with me, now scattered all over his steps. Somewhere in the pile was the new horse doofer I wanted him to open first. Unfortunately all the boxes were identical, and wrapped in the same slippery film of horse mucus, so I became immediately confuzzled as to which box contained the new doofer.

“Um, I—” Gnaddeus tried to respond, but he was clearly overwhelmed at my display. The movers got back to moving.

“How are you liking it so far in the neighborhood, Gnaddeus? Can I call you Nad?”

“My name isn—”

“Okay, Nad! I’m Phillip Norbert Årp, but people call me Pnårp. So—”

“My name isn—!”

“I get it, Nad. I do.” I said earnestly. I didn’t get it. I never got things. But that didn’t stop me from bulling forward like a bull moose in a Mongolia shop. The movers continued moving things around on Gnaddeus’ lawn. I had a litany of questions, each more bizarre than the last. I started with the most innocuous one on my mental list: “So, tell me: Where did you move from, Nad?”

“…” Nad answered. His wide-mouthed ellipsis put me in mind of a certain Drunken Donuts clerk from many years ago, but he wasn’t as pretty as Borbra. Hopefully he wouldn’t be as tentacle-beastly as she had been, either!

“I’ve never heard of ‘…,’ I responded, twisting my goat-like face into a mocking version of his when I mimicked his ellipsis. “Is that down in ‘???’ or out west near ‘!!!’?” I gurned out the name of each of those locales. I wondered if perhaps it was closer to “¿¿??”, but not wearing my sombrero at the moment I didn’t want to attempt to pantomime the name of that southwestern city. I adjusted my party fez and waited for Naddy to say something. Thoughts of Borbra’s sandals played across my synapses and ganglia.

Nad blinked and shook his head. “Look, Phillip,” he began slowly, like he was talking to a baseball bat—or even the baseball itself. “I appreciate the… welcome you’re trying to give me here. I do. But my name isn’—”

He got the apostrophe out this time, but again I interrupted him before he could contradict the Grand Pnårpissimo.

“So, Nad! How’d you like to go grab a coffee down at the Cthulomat? They have the best tentacle roast there, and—”

“First, my name is not—”

“Oh, I understand. You’re new to the neighborhood and have never seen this many geese nor goats before! Well, let me tell you something about those geese (and goats), Naddy-o. If you—”

“Listen, sir—you—whoever you are. My name is not Gn—”

“Of course not! I know you’re not Nurgdurbett-Ur-Dogbuttocks! He’s a machine elf! And you’re not a machine elf, of course not! You don’t even wear a tiny little, purple—”

“My name is not Gna—”

“Oh, ho ho! I know that, too! Of course you’re not Nar-Bibbly the Moon Rock! He’s busy nuzzet-buffeting and chasing rat brains! You’re not Borb—or Borbra for that matter. You don’t even look like her—not nearly enough tentacles! Borbra runs the Cthulomat down on U-238 Street. Now, let’s go sit down somewhere more comfortable and get to know each other—all these geese are making me nervous. You don’t want to see Pnårp nervous, now do you?”

I watched out of one eye as the geese kept moving about ol’ Gnaddeus’ lawn, carrying boxes back and forth from the moving van. These geese had hands. The gnomes were riding them. Little gnomes with little purple wigs like Nurgdurbett-Ur-Dogbuttocks wore. Little gnomes carrying even more boxes, boxes within boxes, within—

“I honestly don’t care what y—” He sounded like he was getting really worked up now. I realized I had to do something before steam started coming out of his ears or his head exploded. (Or mine!)

I finally decided to ask the big question that was on my mind: “So tell me the truth, Nad: Is ‘Gnaddeus Underdong McDoggerel Kleinbutt’ really your real name?” It really was a preposterous name. “Because it really is a preposterous name.”

“Well, no it isn’t! That’s what I’ve been tryi—”

I cut him off again. “Hahaha! What a silly name! Your parents must’ve really hated you! Why didn’t they just name you Charles Babbage? Or Charles Ingram? Or Charles Manson?”

His face clouded. “I—”

“I mean, who the hecklegroober names their kid ‘Gnaddeus’ or ‘Underdong’?” I asked between fits of chuckles, giggles, snickers, and even stifled guffaws. “And ‘Kleinbutt’? I mean, seriously—” I broke down into a paroxysm of shameless chortling again. One of the box-movers put down the box (which he was moving) and watched.

“That’s not—!”

“Were you born cross-eyed or somethin’? Buck-toothed? Hare-lipped? Monkey-nosed?” I was on a roll now and I hadn’t even brought a bag of French baguettes with me on this particular neighbor-welcoming campaign. “Was it the ol’ fetal alco—”

Get out!! he roared.

I got out.