Monday, May 23, 2005

Neighbors...bane or blessing?

We’ve never had the best of luck with neighbors. I guess that’s because, by definition, neighbors are actual people. And we all know actual people are much more troublesome than imaginary ones.

Our very first neighbors were the Cooking People. We never saw them. Ever. But we knew they existed because they cooked some of the nastiest smelling ethnic food you can imagine. What ethnicity we were never quite able to figure out. Our closest guess was “stinky.” Good thing we only lived there for a few months.

Our Florida neighbors stole a debit card from our mail and tried to charge over $300 worth of items at Wal-Mart. Good thing we were poor and there was only about $50 in the account.

Our first Austin neighbors were Get Up Early Guy and Drunk Guy. Get Up Early Guy leaped out of the bed at 5am on top of my head. Every single day. Drunk Guy and his friends knocked their beer cans (usually half full) off their third floor balcony into our first floor patio. We had to watch the dog to make sure he didn’t become inebriated from the leftover puddles.

Then we bought a house. We thought, “Great! We’ll have neighborhood neighbors now!” You know, the kind you say hello to when you’re out in the yard or walking the dog. The kind you have block parties with twice a year. Well, we got Smoking Lady. At first, we thought she was deaf because she would never speak to us or acknowledge our presence in any way. Even a direct “Hello” got nothing. Then, she made the critical mistake of talking on the phone out in the front yard. Busted! We knew that she was just being hateful. Understand now, that she was an avid flower gardener and her front yard was immaculate. And did I mention that she was a chain smoker? Quite ironic to see Smoking Lady out planting a tree while tapping the ashes into the hole she was digging or weeding her beds being sure not to set them on fire. Oh, and apparently she didn’t have trash cans, because all of her cigarette butts ended up in our yard. She also thought it was fun to use her cigarettes to set off fireworks on July 4th and New Year’s. Nevermind that it was illegal and it was in our driveway. Husband would never let me call our friendly neighborhood policeman…something about not making her mad at us so she wouldn’t set our house on fire with one of her cigs. Granted, we did have a few great neighbors in that neighborhood, but Smoking Lady is way more fun to talk about.

Then comes the rent house in our current town with Trash Burning Guy and Annoying Little Kids. Trash Burning Guy was a complete pyro – every weekend it seems he had a 50 gallon barrel in the back yard burning various branches and who knows what else. Body parts, probably. Since we were less than a block away from a fire station, I called them one night. We’d been choking on his smoke all afternoon and the house was full of a gray haze. It was dark and all you could see was a silhouette of his beer belly against the violent flames coming out of the top of his chemical barrel. A fireman, dressed in full fire gear comes to the door. “Are you burning something?” he says. Duh! I’m the one who called you guys! I replied, “No, but my neighbor is. Wanna see?” He promptly went next door and told Trash Burning Guy that he was clearly in violation of Code 3, paragraph 18, line something-or-other and he must cease and desist his various item burning ways. Boy, that was a great day! We thought surely we’d have peace after that. But were we wrong. On the other side, a family moved in with Annoying Little Kids. They ran up and down the fence (chain link fence, mind you) teasing the dogs, sticking their fingers through the fence at them. Not that I would have minded if Argus got aggravated and chomped one of them off, but we would’ve had a nice little lawsuit to deal with. Thankfully, we bought a house and moved.

Now we’re in neighbor limbo. We currently have great neighbors. Quiet, nice, unassuming people who take care of their yards, wave when you’re outside, and bring your mail over when the mailman delivers it to the wrong address. What’s the problem, you ask? The house directly behind us is currently vacant and for sale. I was told by the listing agent that it closes on Wednesday. With our luck, it will be chain-smoking, party-throwing, item-burning people with annoying little kids who taunt the dogs through the fence. Next time you hear from me, I may be in legal litigation because my dog bit off a kid’s finger and we tried to dump it into some Wendy’s chili to get more money to buy another house and move to another neighborhood with more real people as neighbors. Pin It

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