Since his son was my closest school buddy, I goaded my parents to arrive early at the house warming party. I loved the immaculate backyard lawn and played with my friend there while the adults chatted inside. But I soon tired of the confined space, as our home had no fence of the kind. I wanted to venture out; it took all my cousin’s persuasive power to keep me inside. He had been warned not to step out of the fence, as traffic on the road beyond posed a hazard.
The last was an unfortunate trigger for my nagging thought from earlier. I turned to my uncle and said I loved his lawn, but it did not have the view our house had. In fact, I added, it had no view at all because of the unsightly high fence.
All conversation stopped. My uncle, who had looked pleased with the trend of discussion so far, suddenly had a crestfallen look. My parents were deeply embarrassed by my gaffe.
They told me a month later, however, that my uncle had had the fence taken down.