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Things That Go Bump in the Day or Where For Art Thou, Mrs. Romeo?

Happy Halloween, everyone!

To tell you the truth, the whole Halloween thing is kind of lost on me. I've never been much for dressing up and going trick-or-treating. I've always had a great fondness for very good chocolate, the kind you won't find given out when going door to door, freezing your tush off (in my neck of the woods at least) and wearing a costume designed by your mother to get back at you for the pain of childbirth. Yeah, I got over the whole Halloween thing young. I believe it was in the first grade when my mother dressed me up as the toothless fairy, but I digress. Just because I'm not a huge fan of Halloween does not mean I don't believe in things that go bump in the night...or in my case, broad daylight.

My grandparents lived next door to Mrs. Romeo in Brooklyn for forever and Mrs. Romeo and my grandmother were best friends. My mother and Mrs. Romeo’s daughter, Janet, were born six months apart and grew up together. They too were best friends. They were each other’s maids of honor, and they’ve always been like sisters. So, I guess it’s not surprising that Janet’s daughter Leslie and I are cousins of the heart if not blood.

When Mrs. Romeo moved to Florida, my grandparents followed, and then the rest of Minna Street in Brooklyn tagged along—even the mail man and the UPS guy (no joke). I’d known Mrs. Romeo all my life, and after she died, Mrs. Romeo would visit Janet and Leslie’s house and cause trouble. For instance, Mrs. Romeo’s tax papers disappeared until the day before her death tax return was due. The metal box reappeared just where everyone knew Aunt Janet had left it. Mrs. Romeo was also known to swipe the lazy Susan, which was kept on the top shelf of the pantry for our frequent Scrabble games. Mrs. Romeo never did anything horrible (although I have to say, swiping the tax papers was close) and we’d often laugh about her antics. Since my aunt and cousin are the most organized women in the world, this was a great way for Mrs. Romeo to drive them crazy.

One year I received a bunch of Mass cards from one of the Catholic charities my grandmother was fond of that I support in her memory. One was a Christmas card that you could send, remembering the recipient’s loved one in a Mass every day for a year. I thought since Mrs. Romeo hadn’t already found her way to the big Italian kitchen in the sky, she might just need a little extra push, and maybe having people pray for her every day would help. I remember sitting at my kitchen table and addressing my holiday cards right after I put my three kids down for a nap. I had my address book right where I always kept it, on top of the microwave and under the telephone, beside the basket of napkins.

I had made cheese quesadillas for lunch before the kids went down for their naps. I always made quesadillas in a frying pan, so I hadn’t used my toaster oven all day. Imagine my surprise when, about an hour after the kids were tucked into their beds, while I was sitting at the table, addressing my holiday cards, the toaster oven dinged to tell me my toast was ready. Hmm…I got up from the table and checked. Sure enough, the darn thing was hot. “Mrs. Romeo,” I said, “I’m really just trying to help.” I swear I smelled her perfume. I smiled thinking it was nice of her to visit. I wasn’t afraid because, after all, Mrs. Romeo always loved me. I finished addressing my Christmas and Hanukkah cards, put my address book back next to the basket of napkins, and ran them out to the mailbox. Now mind you, this was the one year I got my cards out early, I think it was even before Thanksgiving.

Later that day I needed to make a phone call, I don’t remember to whom, but I went to get my address book, and it was missing. So was the basket I kept my napkins in. I looked behind the microwave, thinking maybe they fell. Nope. I searched the kitchen, the family room, and the entire house to no avail—they were gone. Mrs. Romeo had struck again.

I was living in Idaho at the time, and everyone I knew was on the east coast. While I had many phone numbers memorized, I didn’t have everyone’s numbers in my tiny little brain. Can you imagine being unable to call your friends and family through the entire holiday season?

Shortly after Christmas, my phone book and napkins reappeared in the right spot. The basket was perched on top of the new napkin holder I’d purchased—just as if they’d never been gone. I haven’t heard from Mrs. Romeo since, {Robin says as she looks over her shoulder} but everyone got a laugh when I finally was able to call and tell them all what happened.

Anyone have a Mrs. Romeo in their lives?


  1. Great story Robin! I don't have a Mrs. Romeo, but she sounds like a lot of fun.

  2. Robin, with four brothers, I didn't need a Mrs. Romeo. The night brother Tom hid under my bed to grab my ankles at light out, I would have preferred a Mrs. Romeo!

    And maybe titling a book, "Romeo, Romeo," put you forever in the lady's good graces...?

  3. Wonderful post for Halloween. I betcha Mrs. Romeo is out on vacation but she'll get tired of roaming and will come on back to the folks she knows.

  4. This was so much fun, Robin. What a story, but then you have the best stories. I swear you should write an autobiography.

  5. Very memorable, Robin! I wish we had a Mrs. Romeo in our world. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. @ Tracey - My family is always a mater what they're doing, or in which plane their in.

    @ Grace - LOL I can imagine! As for Romeo, Romeo--I do hope she liked it.

    @ Carolyn - which is why I now keep my address book on my computer and have it backed up in numerous places. {grin}

    @ Anita - If I did write an autobiography, no one would believe it. It is a very strange life I lead--one that shows no sign of calming down.

    @ Anne Elizabeth - I'll have to call my family and see if Mrs. Romeo has made an appearance lately. Sharing the story with you was, as always, my pleasure.

  7. Hi Robin,
    No, No Romeo that lives here, but wow, how interesting a life you have with her presence in tow. Take care and Happy Halloween!

  8. We have a ghost that visits our house. Thankfully after having a talk with him, he's ceased turning on the stereo at 3 o'clock in the morning.

  9. That's pretty creepy, Robin. At least she's a friendly ghost.

  10. Lol, is this why your first hero was named Romeo?

  11. Robin, you are a great storyteller whether you are telling fiction or nonfiction. You made me wish I had had a Mrs. Romeo in my past.

  12. @ Diane - Happy Halloween to you too!

    @ Brooklyn Ann - That's good. My sister once had a ghost that liked taking all the toilet paper off the roll. Too funny.

    @ Shana - Mrs. Romeo was definitely a mischievous ghost but friendly.

    @ Aurian - Yes and no, it was a good Italian name, and I also liked that he was, as we used to say in the neighborhood, a real Romeo. I do remember asking my Aunt Janet if she minded me using the name. She got a kick out of it.

    @ Amelia - Coming from you, my dear, that's a huge compliment. Thank you. I do feel very blessed to have an incredible extended family. I never have to look very far to get a laugh.

  13. Great post, Robin. No Mrs. Romeos here, but I wouldn't mind a Romeo of my own! Haha. Have a great Halloween.


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