Okay, let me preface this by saying that I’m a pretty new homeowner but I take it seriously. I believe that how you keep the outside of your home is indicative of the inside and that it’s my responsibility to keep my yard presentable, tidy and safe. This increases the odds that my neighbors won’t hate me and that maybe – just maybe – it will help property values. Becoming friends with neighbors would be a real bonus.
My city has pretty strict rules about yard and pool maintenance, trash and overgrown foliage. One neighbor is well, less observant of these rules at best. He tells his daughter that he likes to “keep the pool really shallow” so that it’s safer. Really? That means the pump can’t work and the water become stagnant and that a nightly mosquito party is right next door. I’m polite and don’t let my daughter swim over there. I’ve also invested in large bottles of Calamine as we’re covered in bites.
That giant fichus in his yard that drops 75% of it’ leaves in my pool? I cut it down the portion hanging over my fence and he doesn’t understand why I don’t pay the gardener to go into his yard and remove it “while he’s here and all.” I kindly offered the gardeners name and number and tell him (for the fifth time) that I’m only paying for the trim over my yard.
Now, when I met this neighbor, he said “Don’t sink money into your house, you need to buy a boat and live a little.” He also brought me a treasure from his dumpster diving expeditions - a tiny boys bike (Spiderman, if you’re interested) with busted tires because he thought “you may like a bike.” Really? My 6-1/2 year old daughter plays with your child regularly. She’s easily 10” too tall for that bike and clearly not the Spiderman type. I smiled and thanked him. After all, he is my neighbor.
Recently, he has hung large and long pieces of something over two outside windows. These are hanging outside the house. I'm hesitant to mention that perhaps window coverings work best inside as they clearly know this based on the blanket they have covering the window of their front door. My fix-it guy (another great neighbor) just shakes his head and says, "asshole."
Now, when I moved in, I learned that the land outside my back fence and before the sidewalk is my responsibility. Inconvenient? Yes. Annoying? You bet. Taken care of? Absolutely. A little bit of weed killer (environmental or otherwise) and it’s done. And so we come to this morning.
Behind my neighbor's fence, someone placed a nice bench. I noticed it the other day. It sits in an iota of shade - one of those old wood and metal deals that sit outside shops in a downtown area. Since it looked like it had seen some better days, I figured my good neighbor had
dived a local dumpster, contributed the beauty. Then I get the call from him asking if I put it there. Uh, no. He tells me that “Some retard was sitting on it.” (Don't get me started on his use of that word) And now brace yourself, he thinks that the bench is a security breach as someone could hear what he and his family are talking about in their yard. I was tempted to tell him that wearing tin foil hats will prevent anyone from hearing him.
You know, I didn’t expect to become buddies with all my neighbors, I did expect to become friendly with some and hopefully cordial and decent with the rest. I did assume there would be one neighbor who knew everyone and their personal history (yep, he’s here, he’s hilarious and we’re friendly), the young “just starting out couple” (yep, they are here, too – very sweet and getting married this summer), the recluse (yep, very nice but should be nominated for “Hoarders”) and lots of nice folks who have made us feel very welcome. We’ve shared drinks on more than one occasion, our kids play together, we've gone out to dinner and friendships have grown. A simple walk around the block with the dog can take an hour as we visit with new friends along the way.
But…every neighborhood has “one.” One who, uh, stands out and not for the right reasons. One who we're friendly with because we're neighbors - we shake our heads, call each other chuckling about the latest "can you believe..." The one you laugh about over drinks and neighborhood BBQ. Unfortunately, this "one" is right next to me.
I'm stocking up on tinfoil.