When my kids were little we used to rent a cabin every summer south of Napanee on Hay Bay. It was Dr. Burns’s fishing village. The cabins were small, old and cheap. The grounds were beautiful. A boat launch, and great swimming.  For most of the day, it was the perfect bucolic setting.

We were in the middle of three cabins that stood in a row.  To our left was an older couple, regulars from Pennsylvania. At night, they watched the same show on different TV’s in separate rooms and yelled back and forth to each other. I don’t recall his name but her name was Lottie and she was what could be kindly referred to as a battle axe, which I tried to understand her because every time she moved you could hear the sound of a creaking door. It seemed she was returning to dust in front of us. Even when she was being nice she sounded like she should be driving by on a bicycle saying “I”ll get you my little pretty.” Needless to say, she scared the bejesus out of not just the kids but for me as well.

To the right of us was another family also from Pennsylvania, who were friends with the battleaxe and had a dog called Lottie. I don’t know which Lottie arrived first. It was equally irritating! One of that yappy mouthpiece that barked every time a leaf blew by. Or you walked by to get to the bay.

Yes, there was Lottie the person and Lottie the dog.

It seemed to me that someone was always yelling at one Lottie or the other and we never knew which one.

My kids were five and six at the time and found it hysterical that someone had the same name as a dog.

One night the nice family to the right ( Lottie the dog’s owner) invited us to supper for Lottie’s birthday. Apparently, she was turning 84 and had been depressed and the nice couple they thought some company might cheer her up.

We were to come at five.

Even though money was tight and I really couldn’t stand the woman I went to town to get flowers to soften her up.

When we got there at five p.m on the dot they were already sitting at the table, eating.

” Oh sorry, I thought you said five. ”

Lottie the person said, “Well where we come from you don’t arrive right on the dot.’

So we awkwardly sat down and ate the feast. The dog Lottie’s owners were Amish and they put on a spread with never-ending bowls of steaming plates of meat and potatoes and baked beans.

At the end of the meal, there was no cake but they sang Happy Birthday and I handed Lottie the woman her bouquet.

She was shocked and yelled,

“What’s this for? You sucking up?”

“Well, it’s your birthday. You deserve something nice.”

“Well hells bells it’s not my birthday, it’s the dog’s.”

On cue, Lottie the dog sat up from near the fire and began to bark until Lottie the person hollered.

“Oh go, lay down you damn fleabag.” The dog laid down and turned his face toward the fire.

Everyone at the table laughed till our sides hurt.

Still confused, I said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought someone said you were turning 84.” At that point, all the laughter stopped. Lottie the woman’s head swivelled toward me. In the distance, I swear I heard banjos playing, the theme song from Deliverance.

“Good God, 84? Really? Do I look 84?” Is that a rhetorical question? Before I could answer she said, “I am only 71.”

She was the oldest 71-year old I ever had seen.

“The other Lottie is 84, not me. We figure this will be her last summer. so we wanted to make her happy”

I want to say right here no one could make either one of them happy.

My kids didn’t understand that dog year was different than people years and asked Lottie the person, “Were you born first or was Lottie the person?”

Lottie the person snarked, “You better train those kids better.” Basically the rest of the dinner we opened our mouths to change feet.

When we got home the kids were still going on about it and laughing they almost peed themselves. When I said, it was time for bed, they said, “Oh go lay down you damn fleabag.”

We were in hysterics. It got so bad we had to go into our bedroom and shut all the windows. And then put pillows in our mouths so we could laugh to our heart’s content.

For it was summer and sounds echos across the water and we didn’t want to wake up either of the Lotties, for they seemed to oppose any form of joy.

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