The sun was just beginning to peek through the top of our red maple tree when my wife, Brenda, and I noticed a large moving van two houses down from our home.
An elderly gentleman stepped from the truck and slid a key into the front door of his new home.
Our newest neighbor, who we will call ‘Frank’, was a man vastly different from those who arrived before him to our sedate, laid-back neighborhood. Frank was an eccentric man, free-spirited, and, as we soon found out, quite lonely. A man with time on his hands, he had two unlikely passions in life —beets and Internet dating.
He said he had taken up beet eating for nutritional purposes. His passion with Internet dating was longer standing and had taken him all over the country to meet like-minded women.
Frank was a fellow who loved to discuss the attributes of his Internet dating experiences — anytime and every time — he engaged an unsuspecting neighbor in conversation. Thrice married, but now single, some might call him ‘unlucky in love’. He told us that his new dentist had “fired” him as a patient, and that the local YMCA banned him, on both occasions, for inappropriate behavior.
Before long, Frank began a practice of walking down the sidewalk in shorts, white underwear top, no shoes, offering whatever he had cooked for dinner (usually beets) to the neighbors, which to say the least, was unorthodox and frightened them.
His reputation traveled fast, so most families in the neighborhood refused to associate with him.
Several months passed, and as they say, love was in the air.
Frank dropped by to inform us he was arranging a trip to meet a woman from South Carolina he had met on the Internet. In the weeks leading-up to the planned rendezvous, we could see his anticipation was growing.
We had concerns for Frank and his behavior.
We heard nothing from him until the following weekend. While working in our front yard, he came by and sat down to talk. In true approach-avoidance fashion, we asked how his trip to South Carolina had gone, as we continued to work.
His next words surprised us.
“She was a charming woman, full of fun and spirit. We had a superb dinner. I, of course, had beets,” Frank began.
“Then, the lady said she didn’t like beets,” Frank said. “I was flabbergasted. Wasn’t that a ridiculous thing to say?” he asked. “I told the woman I felt like I’d just lost my mojo!”
Saying nothing, Brenda and I quietly looked at each other.
Frank continued on with his story. “She said she wasn’t sure what mojo meant, and she was going back to her room. She then said she would be leaving early the next morning to return home, and for me not to contact her again,” he added.
Frank said the unhappy ending had shaken him. Back in his room, it was some time before he was able to settle down enough to fall sleep.
“All was going well until about 1 o’clock in the morning,” Frank said. He had awakened and arose to go to the bathroom.
“Without warning, I passed what I believed to be blood,” Frank said. “The discharge alarmed me as it would anyone.”
Fearing he might have been hemorrhaging, he said he quickly called the front desk, who sent the night clerk up to his room. As soon as the clerk entered the room, she screamed.
Frank said, “Then I screamed!”
With those words, Brenda and I put down our tools and stopped our yard work to listen to the unfolding story.
“With no time to waste, instead of waiting for an ambulance, the night clerk rushed me to the local emergency room where the doctor ran a battery of tests,” Frank said.
After over 30 minutes, gripped with fear and dreading the worst, Frank said the emergency room doctor returned and pulled-up a chair next to his gurney. As the doctor closed the drapes around Frank’s bed, he blurted out, “Doctor, why am I passing all this blood?”
Composed, the doctor took a long look at his patient. He then asked, “Frank, have you by chance been eating beets?”
“Why, yes, doctor. I had a lovely meal of beets earlier this evening,” Frank anxiously replied. “Why?”
The doctor didn’t mince words. “Son, the tests show that’s not blood. That’s beet juice!”
And with that, while not eradicated, Frank’s obsession with beets was tempered.
He soon left our town, leaving behind nothing but the delicate aroma of his personality.