Tuesday night, Sophia showed me a Homeowners’ Association letter to her parents advising that their statue of the Virgin Mary on the front porch requires approval from the Architectural Design Committee. I didn’t much appreciate her tone when she doled out my marching orders: “Take care of this, Richard! If you can fix things for my mother, maybe my family will let you through their front door again.”
After grudgingly marking Mary’s current location with an “X” on the in-laws’ property survey and typing appropriate header information on an application form, I decided to show my wife who’s boss by completing the form as a mock approval application submitted by my father-in-law. I took great pleasure in imagining Sophia rolling her eyes when she read the fake document. This is what I wrote:
Transplanted lunatics from New Jersey (with suspected Mafia ties) seek HOA approval to display obnoxious religious statuary in a manner guaranteed to offend neighbors and passersby alike. A survey of the applicants’ property is attached. The survey has been marked as follows: a) one “X” to indicate the front porch area where the gaudy, three-foot-tall image of the Virgin Mary currently rests; and b) a second “X” to denote the proposed backyard site for your burial in the event this application is denied.
Yesterday morning, I left the marked survey and “completed” application on the kitchen table for Sophia’s review. Then I went for a run. By the time I returned, Sophia had already driven to work and the documents were nowhere to be seen.
I waited all day for a call from the Mrs. berating me for my “childish prank.” But she never phoned, and she didn’t yell at me when she came home last night. To the contrary, she thanked me for taking care of her parents’ issue. My ensuing bewildered questioning revealed that Sophia hadn’t bothered to read my application package. Instead, on her way to work, she’d simply dropped off the papers at the Association Manager’s office. Why? Because, as she put it: “You’re a great lawyer, Richard; if you write something, I know it’ll get the job done.”
There’s a moral here somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I can figure it out. Naturally, I expected an immediate rejection of the application followed by my lifetime ban from the Gambino household (both of which admittedly offered their advantages). What I did not anticipate was the Association Manager’s telephone call to Sophia’s father this afternoon, telling Vito: “Your hilarious application for the Virgin Mary statue has been approved. All the Board members think you’re the funniest person in the development!”
What’s the upshot? Vito, who may in fact possess the tiniest sense of humor in our subdivision — if not the entire State of Georgia — remains somewhat baffled … while I, the anonymous funnyman, am once more welcomed at the Gambino residence.