Through his kitchen window, the Soupster saw Madeline coming his way and stiffened. He wasn’t sure how he stood these days with his cross-the-street neighbor, but he knew Madeline didn’t usually steer his way for anything but business. He went out the door to meet her.
Madeline was one tough cookie. Madeline had a Rottweiler, but that big dog was just like a beard on a bear — window dressing. She had long ago found her own “inner” Rottweiler. Still, in her weird “bad neighbor” way, Madeline tried to be nice to the Soupster.
“I want to try out a theory on you,” she said after a perfunctory greeting. “It’s about hating people.”
“I don’t think there’s very much people-hating going on in Our Town,” said the Soupster. “How would we live peacefully with each other on The Rock if there were?”
“Well, that’s what I’ve been thinking about,” Madeline said. “ How much hatred there really is in Our Town. The answer? Four distinct kinds!
“The first kind of hatred is the kind you’re talking about, Soupster. It’s when there’s somebody at work or school or in your family who you really can’t stand. But you have to be there and they have to be there, so you make the best of it.”
“What’s another kind?” asked the Soupster.
“The kind where one person so can’t stand the other, they can’t even look at the other person,” Madeline said. “But you seldom see or have anything to do with them. That’s the simplest kind .”
The Soupster knew several people who seemed to always be unhappily distracted when he walked by. He realized now what was going on when they didn’t notice him. Thanks for straightening me out, Madeline, he thought.
“And the last two kinds of hatred?” the Soupster asked his neighbor.
“Now, it gets complicated,” Madeline said with an outright grin. “When you used to like someone a lot. And then, over the years, you’ve learned to like them less and less. But you still have to uphold the relationship as though you still like each other.”
“Is that us?” the Soupster asked meekly.
“No, we’re the opposite, the Fourth Kind,” said Madeline. “My first impression of you was so totally foul, it’s been rising steadily ever since.”
“That sounds… er, good,” said a confused Soupster.
“So don’t blow it!” Maddie barked.
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