A few weeks ago I met a neighbor working on his yard. He had a chain-linked fence, where I could see a flourishing garden behind his house.

“Hi there,” I said, “Nice garden back there.”

“Oh thanks!” he said, “I don’t do as much as I used to, but you have to keep on working and doing stuff when you are my age.”

As we chatted, he began to ask me some fun and challenging questions, where he said, “You know kids will figure these out quickly, but adults… well they get stuck on them."

“Alright then, bring them on,” I said.

His questions were fun. I felt like I was on that old tv show, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader. I was apparently not smarter than a fifth grader, but that was okay, he was engaging me in a fun and creative way.

After a slew of questions I did not know the answer to, he suddenly looked at my conspiratorially. “Do you want to see my mongoose?”


At this point, I had no idea if he was serious or not. So, I genuinely asked, “Wait really?”

“Oh yes, I keep him back in the shed. Did you know that they are illegal? You aren’t going to turn me in are you, if I show you him, that is?”

He led me around the corner, and continued on in a rather convincing fashion about his pet mongoose and all the years of he had hid it from the law. “They are illegal you know,” he said matter of factly, while he handed me an ancient news paper clipping. He went to his shed and pulled out a cage. “They are also nocturnal,” he mused, “So I built a dark part for the cage for him to sleep in.”

Sure enough half of the cage was blocked off, and a little tail was sticking out of a hole. I gazed down at the tail transfixed. “I am going to tap the cage to try and wake him up, let me know if you see him move.” I watched intently at the tail as he tapped, and then…

The cage flew open and a stuffed animal flew into my face!

Uproarious laughter ensued…
I had been duped. He got me. I actually believed he had a pet mongoose.

I was able to good chuckle along with him afterwards when he told me about how he had been tricking kids and adults alike for the past twenty years with it.

Different people connect with neighbors in different way. Humor and games can be a great gift to offer our neighbors. I would not necessarily recommend tricking your neighbors with a stuffed mongoose, but I appreciate my neighbors humor. It is a gift because it is his unique way of helping neighbors connect with each other.

In the future, I’ll be sure to connect him with someone else new in the neighborhood, so he can have a good laugh.