Here at Golden Garden, or Golden Fallen Arches as I have called it, we have several places where we can hang out. People tend to sit in the same spot every time, and heaven help you if you sit in the spot preferred by certain people. I will be discreet and not mention Belva’s name. Most sit clustered around the TV. Daytime television is not my cup of tepid tea.

In the corner there is a bushy plant that seems to grow so fast that its shoots and branching tentacles could take over the room. It seems friendly. Maybe it will hug me. There is a comfy chair sort of behind it and that is the spot preferred by Jon Dewlap, a little gent with shaggy white hair. He is usually by himself but, I have noticed, enjoys a good laugh and the more often the better.

One day I was passing through the Hampshire Room and there, half-hidden by foliage, was Jon tapping away on his cell phone. I wandered over. He set his phone down and said, “Welcome to the hidden lair of Harry the Hermit.” “Nonsense,” I countered, “Your name is Jon and this is hardly a hidden lair. You are in the pride of Golden Gardens, the Hampshire Room, hiding behind a shrub.”

“Was the room named for the state or for the pig?” he asked. “Personally,” he said as he leaned closer and talked softly, “I think of it as the Swine Room. Not just because of the esteemed breed of pig but also because of the people who hang out here and who are distinguished by their lack of breeding. One of them,” he slyly pointed at Belva, “I wouldn’t be seen with at a frog festival.”

“I would rather hear you talk about Jon.”

“I consider myself properly rebuked,” he said, “unless you are hitting on me.” We both laughed although it was nervous laughter. There is a lot of hanky-panky around here, mostly just talk, but that’s enough to make me leery. Make sure you see the “y” on that word!

“So, tell me. Is Jon short for Jonathan?”

“Nope! Just plain J-o-n. It was my grandma’s decision. They asked my mother about my name but I was keeping her busy at the moment so Granny jumped in and told the nurse what to write down. Granny thought John looked funny so she kicked the h out of it.” I could feel him watching me laugh and that got my attention so I thought it best to be moseying on. I said so.

“Wait just a dadgummed minute,” he said in a lame John Wayne impression. “You haven’t answered my question. Was this room named for the state or for the pig? Or neither?”

I didn’t know if I could trust him. Was this a straight-up question, or was he setting me up for a bad joke or embarrassment? Then I remembered the antique photo of a couple from long, long before Golden Gardens was here so the answer would be “neither.” But all I said was “I’ll think about it.” Since, part of me is a snoop, I sauntered off, determined to clarify this matter.

And, since part of me is lonely, I’ll keep him thinking, too.

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