- by Michael!

It's not my mom's fault.

If anybody is to blame in an ultimate, cosmic sense, it is whoever decided that giving every street in my parents' neighborhood practically identical names was a good idea:

"I can't remember which street. Monte Something. Can't be hard to find."
It's a lovely neighborhood, full of houses that almost seem hobbit-like in their earthy homeliness. The streets are shaded with trees. And, when the wind is just right, you can hear the jack-brakes of the trucks as they hurtle down the interstate less than a mile away.

OK, that last one isn't so great, but all in all Monte D'Oro is a wonderful neighborhood. (Visitor's Note: you will hear this pronounced as both 'montay doro' and 'montay deeoro.' Either is acceptable.)

However, as you can see, out of the six streets in the neighborhood, only one - Monte Verde Cir. - does not have a sibling in nomenclature: three variants of Monte D'Oro, and two of Monte D'Este, and it's a wonder that anybody ever manages to find any of these houses.

Oh, and the house numbers all start and end roughly the same - so getting the mail on any given day is, at best, a crap-shoot. Any magazine, newspaper, or catalog to which you subscribe stands a solid chance of being first delivered to someone else's house and retrieved by an errand-running 5-year-old, a grandfather walking his cat (yes, he is real), or anybody in between.

And more than once, people performing various acts of home improvement for pay have ended up in the wrong locale, only to be informed that they have the wrong street. Occasionally they'll actually argue with the homeowner, which is hilarious, but for the most part it's not an issue.

However, this one time about twelve years ago...

My mother was teaching when she heard a tapping noise coming from outside. At first she dismissed it as a woodpecker - quite common thereabouts - but it was far too rhythmic a noise, and too consistent, so she went outside to see what was going on. And of course, there on the roof were two Latin American gentlemen, who smiled at her and called out a good-natured 'Hola' before they began rapping on the roof once more.

"Excuse me," she called up to them, returning the smile, "but... what are you doing?"

One of them came down and told her that they had a work order grinned sheepishly and shrugged in that way that says, "Sorry, I do not speak the language that you are currently using in your attempt to communicate with me." He did produce some paperwork from his vehicle that included directions to my parents' house, but my mother figured out the problem quickly: they'd gone to the wrong street type.

"Oh, I see, they wrote it down wrong. You need to go to -" and she corrected the street type on the man's sheet of paper.

He thanked her with a look of profound confusion, called to his companion, and away they went.

And then, half an hour later...


"Do you hear that?" she asked her student. The student nodded.


"What on earth..."


She went outside again and - of course - there they were, back on the roof.

My mother stood in the driveway and yelled up at them, hands on her hips, "What are you doing?!?" They smiled down at her again, this time with unease bordering on fright. "I told you before - this is the WRONG HOUSE. Now GOOOOOO AWAAAAAAY!" and the last bit was a bit of a yell and now the two men were dragged across that border of fright and well on their way to the capital and they taptaptaptaptaptapped just a bit more and scampered down the ladder and smiled in frozen abject terror and peeled rubber on the way out of the neighborhood, spurred along by the soldering-iron glare that my mother was leveling against them.

She went back inside, biting back her irritation and trying not to show her remaining students just how distraught she was. That afternoon she called Dad at school to tell him about the incident - by then she was no longer agitated, but it was still a mystery to her.

That is, until Dad heard that they were working on the roof and said, "Golly, that was fast!"

(Note: yes, my father does actually use the word 'Golly' in everyday conversation.)

He'd called a company that morning about repairing some damage he'd noticed on his way out the driveway. Mom hadn't seen it, so she didn't know there was a need for roof repair, and Dad hadn't felt like he needed to tell her about it since no home repair service gets out to your house the same day that you call!

Well... maybe just the one.

Mortified, my mother called the company and apologized profusely to the supervisor of the men, and promised to bake cookies for them if they swung back around the house. (To the best of my knowledge, they did not.)

The moral is, if you're ever looking for a house in that neighborhood, make sure that you have the right street type. And bring some roofing supplies just in case. There might be some cookies in it for you.