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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

A Frog Strangler

Being dumb can be costly. I know this from my own experience. I’m sharing it with you so maybe you can be smarter. Although - I think that it can, at times, be difficult not to slip into less smart. Like when you’re tired and your brain is trying to hold many things.

On Friday afternoon, shortly after 4 PM, we were still waiting for the final number for our closing number. On a whim, I decided to call our bank in Massachusetts (that’s how well the acclimation to Forest had gone) to make sure I could initiate a wire transfer for the real estate close on Monday if I contacted the bank Saturday.

“Sure. All wire transfers do need to be initiated in person at the branch.”

Andrea later says she could sense the sonic boom of my brain spasm from the other room.

The woman at the bank puts me on hold. I stumble to Andrea, who’s on a work call with her employee, and sputter an F bomb laden sentence. I stumble away. I’m on and off hold and then I shriek at Andrea to hang up and help me out. I need another phone to dial - hers. I need another brain - also hers. Mine feels as if it’s clicking off. Andrea dials and I say, “Hang up! Try this!” When other ideas slide through.

We speed to a bank, that will soon became our bank, and they notarize the documents we need in order to have the wire transfer happen on Monday. We had gotten the closing figure from our contact. As Andrea is filling out the form, an email rolls through from the closing attorney’s office. The number we had gotten from our closing contact is over $3k less than the number in the email.

“Andrea….” I tap the figure. Andrea sighs and takes a deep, even steadying breath.

“Cindy. Can you please print the form for us? Again?” Andrea asks.

Cindy produces a 2nd copy and Andrea behind again. I google FedEx locations and we head there after bidding Cindy farewell.

Grace at the FedEx store tries to save us money. We call the bank again, “Heidi! It’s me! Maggie Smith - the crazy wire lady!” I breath in relief hearing her now familiar voice.

“Oh hey!” Heidi days and I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that “crazy wire lady” seems to land with her. I learn the “wire operations center” is closed on Saturday. We ask Grace to get it there first thing Monday. She hesitates and tells us it will cost $77 to ship the handful of papers to Marlborough Massachusetts for a 9 AM Monday delivery.

“What about 10 AM?” Grace asks hopefully. Our closing is at noon so we don’t have the luxury of a slightly cheaper FedEx delivery option. $77 it is.

We head to our Forest house Saturday and drive across our back lawn to load something heavy into the back of the truck. We get stuck. Andrea tells me to lie down in the back of the truck bed to add weight to it. I comply. The tires spin - sending red mud into the air. It rains down on me. I can feel it landing in my hair. I shriek. I get out of the truck - tires spinning, red mud flinging. I’m covered. I stumble to the drivers side and Andrea laughs.

Our neighbor arrives and tries to help but eventually advices we need a tow with a winch. We call AAA only to learn that our membership has expired and also they don’t cover your tow if you need it because your a dumb ass. The woman is a bitch to Andrea. The last thing you need when you have done something stupid is someone pointing out that you’ve been stupid. We fucking know we’re idiots. In the background I say, “Hang up on her!” Ain’t nobody got time for this shit. We call a local place and they arrive in an hour while I’m either at the dump or at Goodwill.

Driving back from one of the two (or maybe both), the check engine light comes on in my car. I can’t believe it and reroute to the auto supply store where I buy a quart of oil and put it into my car and hope for the best. It seems to do the trick.

I pull back into our house and our neighbor’s kid is at our door because I had begged her to help us for pay.

“Hey! Sorry - Andrea’s in the back. She didn’t hear you. We had to get out truck towed. It’s stuck.”

“How did that happen?” The kid asks.

“Oh. Well. We drove it on the grass…well, and it got stuck in the dirt. Don’t do what we do.” I offer as a cautionary tale. “I hear it rained a lot here.”

I tell the tow truck driver he’s our knight in shining armor. He laughs as if I’m joking. From our deck above, I video tape Andrea being towed out.

“His name is Neal.” Andrea says.


Andrea had asked Neal if our situation was the dumbest he’d seen that day and Neal politely replied that it was still early.

“I ducking love the south.” Andrea texts me while Neal works to free the truck. Andrea later explains that Neal didn’t say anything like “how the hell did you do that.”

Neal’s truck has 115 feet of winching cable. He needs 110 to get the truck out.

Our neighbor had referred to the rain as a “frog strangler” - a term I admit to looking up online.

“Andy Griffith was the first person I heard say it - he’s my hero! I have never googled it, but I may have to to see what comes up.” Our neighbor offers. I will miss living next to a man who’s hero is Andy Griffith and who runs to help two dummies who drove into mud.

The neighbor kid is a big help. I sell our composter to her mom who says, “We we’re pointing out to her that she doesn’t help at home and she said we don’t pay her.” That kid is going places.

As we begin to wrap the day up at the house, my body aches. I start saying, “I can’t do this. I can’t do it anymore.” Luckily, just one of us is falling apart and Andrea coaxes me through the last of what needs to get done.

We get to the rental house that night. I smell. My clothing is stained with red mud. I pull all my clothing off and stumble into the shower. I ice my arm and think, “How am I going to muscle through the rest of this?” I sleep about 11 hours and feel better so we unload our cars at the U-Haul storage place near our new home.

We drive through the neighborhood and my soul devours the diversity. An older woman gardens a center median. I spot another old woman with a dog. A black woman pushes a stroller. Houses have signs supporting Black Lives Matter and Pride. One sign reads, “Black Lives Matter. God says so.” I feel comforted that this soon to be neighbor has the same God that I have.

We scoot into a restaurant that will be a short walk from our new home. We park on the street and make the short walk to the restaurant. There’s a blue, plastic bin that looks like one of those little libraries. It turns out it’s a “Blockbuster Video” box, “Take a video, leave a video.” It says. I open it and peer in. There are VHS tapes.

We sit in a booth. Andrea hoists her mimosa in the air, “A toast!” She says. “You want to give a toast or should I?” She gives a toast and I start crying in the booth. I’m not a crier so I store all the feelings up and release them in a torrent. A frog strangler of emotions.

“Are you sad?” Andrea asks - perplexed.

“No.” I sniffle. “I’m starting to believe we will pull this off. That this will happen. We will move. We will get through this…”. I mean the move and the year of the pandemic. All of it.

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