Sunday, August 14, 2005

Won’t you ignore my neighbor?

Sometimes, when I’m not too busy wondering whether or not Pat Sajak wears a toupee, I wonder about my neighbors. Specifically, I wonder if they notice me dumping dirty ferret litter over on their side of the fence in the middle of the night. If they do notice, not only would I be embarrassed that they know I sneak around the backyard at night with a bucket of animal waste, but I’d be sad that my ninja suit was a total waste of money.

I wouldn’t know if they notice or not; I know very little about my neighbors, other than what they look like when they’re waving. I don’t even know what some of their kids’ names are, but we all know each others’ waves very well. You could bring all of my neighbors outside, put empty potato sacks over their heads, and I’d be able easily identify each of them just by their waves, and also by which house they’re standing in front of.

While my wife Kara and I were away on vacation recently, a couple of our neighbors down the street pulled together to have a yard sale. It worked out fine that we weren’t there to join them for the big sale; we still need a couple decades to amass enough rusted-out snow blowers and folding chairs that don’t fold to properly participate in something like that.

Some people think that you have to get to yard sales early to get the good stuff. I’ve found, and my neighbors just confirmed, that the best deals actually come two days later, when the leftovers are set beside the trash can. As I write this, I’m sitting on a stray chair that Kara and I saved from being euthanized. You really can get some not totally destroyed furniture that way. But still, I’m sorry that we weren’t there when everyone was out in their yards; it would have been nice to have the opportunity to get to know them a little better, even the ones whose bumper stickers I don’t agree with.

I have a long history of not knowing much about my neighbors. About seven years ago, I was moving into my first apartment, looking at the long line of doorknobs poking into the hallway, and thinking, “This will be fun to get to know all of these people.” I don’t know to this day whether anybody actually lived behind any of those doorknobs; the only indication I ever got that other life forms existed in that building was the vague aroma of Ramen noodles that drifted down the hall.

In the several apartments I’ve lived in since then, the only time I ever really heard from any of my neighbors was when they were coming and going from their cars, or when they were on the other side of the wall partaking in adult activities, such as lawn bowling, playing bingo or watching On Golden Pond with the volume cranked up.

Living in a house and having neighbors brings about a whole new set of issues that I’ve never had to deal with before. I worry that when I’m mowing the lawn near our property line, if I accidentally mow a little strip of their property, they’ll think I’m trying to annex their yard to mine. Also, if I don’t mow close enough to the property line, will they think I’m trying to gradually trick them into mowing my lawn? I don’t really know them well enough to judge these things.

It seems like I knew my neighbors so much better when I was a kid. When we were visiting my parents recently, Mom referenced the people a couple of houses down.

“You mean the Fischers?” I asked.

Mom replied, “Son, the Fischers haven’t lived there in twenty years. And stop picking your nose.”


  1. Mmmmmm... nose goblins.

    Wait a sec, you have a ninja suit?! You're now officially my hero for the week. The pay's pretty lousy, but the prestige will last a lifetime. Boy, I'll bet when you put that thing on, you feel invisible and invincible all at the same time. Do you have ninja throwing stars too? And nunchucks, like Michelangelo? He was always my favorite turtle. Leonardo was just too much of a drag. And Raphael was kind of a jerk. Donatello was really smart and cool and stuff, but he only had a stick. Come on! A freakin' STICK.

    Who stole my ritalin, anyway?

    Hey, wanna go ride bikes?

  2. Hey just found your blog thru Randi, your very funny! Thanks for sharing....

  3. Haha! I've never known any of my neighbors ... yet lately, it seems, wherever I move to, my neighbors always have

    A.) loud and obnoxious kids who sound like they're blowing up the house

    B.) domestic disputes involving a lot of swearing, shouting, hitting, crying and bodyslamming

    C.) barbeques at odd times ... like 1 am.

    D.) an overwhelming use of garlic in all their meals

    Lucky you, you just get the ones with yardsales and funny waves. Wanna trade?

  4. i like to try and stay to not into the whole block party thing or having your neighbors over for tea....i am sure that will all change when i have kids, then i will want to know them and their will give mine something to do other than bug me....

  5. We know most of ours by site or because of our kids. We are closest with those immediately across the street and directly next door.

    However, the most gossip about all the other neighbors come from the men. Thats right, these guys know everything that is happening and have nicknamed every hapless soul. Every time we have one of our drunken Sunday night adventures they veer towards the gossip and I am continually lost. This causing much amusement from them and have dubbed it "The Jen".

  6. I know my neighbors by sight, but remember the names of only a few. On the other hand, I remember the names of all the cats and dogs in the neighborhood, and I make up names for the animals I haven't been formally introduced to. I must not like people. I do like yard sales, though . . .

  7. Excellent Mike! Dr. Leo Marvin taught me that taking baby steps is the best way to cope with new and uncomfortable experiences.

    You know the Fischers, too? Small world.

    Keep 'em comin'

  8. I'm the worst with neighbours - can never remember which man goes with which woman and what house to shove screaming and/or bleeding kids into.

    Hubby, on the other hand knows what everybody drives and what shifts they work!

  9. You should live in the ghetto like me, then you get to know your neighbors when you're all battling a theft problem. Funny, as soon as things stopped being stolen, we stopped socializing.

  10. These comments are some tough competition -- thanks for dropping your kids off in my pool, y'all.

  11. I can't get over the fact that both you and Jim know the Fischers. Course, I spell it Fishers... and i'm still torn up over Nate... but I digress.
    I have so much to say about this post. Excellent writing and twisted humor as always.

    I don't seem to have the patience to run my own yard sale. I simply put my old couch and fridge in my driveway with a sign that read "Free to Good Home". 10 minutes later... GONE!!!

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