Friday, November 13, 2009

Won't You Be My Neighbor?.......

I kind of miss the days when neighbors were also good friends and relied on one another for lots of things. They borrowed tools, watched each others' kids, borrowed sugar or flour from one another, shared a garden, had block parties and community yard sales, kept an eye on neighbors' houses when they were gone out of town.

Hubby has lived in this house for 36 or 37 years -- I can't pin him down to an actual year. Those kinds of things aren't important to men, I guess. I can reel off significant dates from most years of my life. But I digress.

The neighbors across the street have lived in their house just as long. Yet we don't have a whole lot to do with them. We know them, know their dogs' names, know their children, but beyond a friendly wave now and then, we don't have too much interaction.

Hubby may have a subconscious reason for not getting close to his neighbors. The house across the street and diagonal to us has the same design as ours, and Hubby was very good friends with the guy who lived there. Not a week goes by that he doesn't have some sort of "Mikey" story. Mike was diagnosed with cancer long before I met Hubby, and he didn't live very long after his diagnosis. He and Hubby had worked together, were drinking buddies, and WERE the kinds of neighbors who helped each other. After Mike died, Hubby hasn't been very interested in getting very friendly with anyone else. The guy who bought Mike's house is nice enough, and he's handy working on cars, so he has helped Hubby put brake shoes on a car or two, in addition to other minor car repairs. Friendly isn't the same as being friends, though. His wife did call us one time to tell us our chimney was on fire, and we have chatted in the yard about our dogs. Hubby didn't even know their last name for a long time, though.

Because our neighborhood is so old, many of the houses have either turned into rental property or they've changed hands a number of times. The house to the left of ours belongs to a VERY nice man who rents it out (carefully) and tries hard to maintain the quiet that we appreciate on our little dead-end street. [The subdivision was built before cul-de-sacs became popular, so we just have a dead-end.]

There have been some characters in the rental house next door. There was the guy who asked if he could rent our pool for a family reunion. Hubby told him he would have to ask me, and either he figured out that meant "no," or he was afraid to, because he never mentioned it to me. I just couldn't picture it ... A beautiful Sunday afternoon, me sitting inside my own house while a bunch of strangers splash around in my pool. As it was, I went swimming the day of their little get-together, and I felt GUILTY in my OWN POOL because it was about a billion degrees outside and I was the only one in my pool. We put up a privacy fence right after that.

The next tenant was a single girl, and we never heard a peep out of her. She got some baby ducks one spring. They were cute, but as baby ducks will do, they grew up. And they could not resist our swimming pool. And our dogs could not resist the ducks. One day when I was out of town, the girl came and rang the doorbell. When Hubby answered the door, she asked, "Can I have my duck back?" Grizz had the dead duck in his mouth, and she wanted to bury it. I felt terrible, but she didn't blame us. She didn't even blame Grizz.

Another couple lived there only for a short time because he did work that had him moving from place to place on a regular basis. When he lived here, he was working on a water tower in one of our county's small towns. They also had a motorhome, and one day it almost caught on fire. The mail carrier threw out a cigarette that ignited the grass in the front yard. Hubby took the water hose over there and put out the fire before it could engulf the motorhome. The woman who lived there brought over a cake the next day, so grateful that Hubby had saved their "home". She had no way of knowing that he'd just been diagnosed with diabetes, so we gave the cake away to someone.

One time we couldn't determine who actually lived next door. There was a whole passel of them, and the cars changed on a daily basis. They were loud and threw parties that were sometimes still going on when Hubby got up to go to work. I only called the sheriff's office on them once, and Hubby wasn't crazy about me doing it that time. I don't know if he was more interested in being neighborly or in not having his tires slashed. That bunch of folks wound up being evicted right before Christmas. All of their belongings were out in the yard, including the Christmas tree. Still decorated. It makes you feel all icky inside to come home and see your neighbors' possessions thrown on the ground. The deputy who executed the eviction said, "As many people as there were asleep in that house when we went in, you'd have thought some of them could get up and go to work so they could pay the rent."

The next guy tried to be a closer buddy than we wanted him to. He was friendly, but I couldn't stand him. He came out one day and told another neighbor, "This is my forty-eighth beer today!" And I don't think he was exaggerating. He was obnoxious as hell even when he WASN'T drinking. One weekend Sweet Girl came home for Father's Day, and we invited Weesa and her boyfriend over for a get-together by the pool. We heard the gate open, and we looked up to see obnoxious neighbor himself coming in with the girl-of-the-week and a cooler of beer. He had just invited himself to our gathering. I came inside. Weesa and her daughter came inside. Weesa's boyfriend came inside. Hubby came in to see where we all were. Sweet Girl was the only one with the guts to go out there and say, "This is a family gathering, and you need to leave." That neighbor disappeared when his family showed up to take him off to rehab somewhere, possibly Alabama.

There was a sweet couple who lived there for the past couple of years. She was a beginning teacher, and I never did find out exactly what he did. Other than talk. They were from Buffalo, and he could talk faster and use more words to say less than anyone I have ever known. They were very quiet, and although we spoke to them whenever we were outside, they still weren't the kind of neighbors we felt like we could say to, "We're going to be out of town. How about feeding Libby and the cats while we're gone." They were able to buy a house right at the beginning of the recession, and their mortgage payment was going to be less than their rent. Couldn't blame them for that.

There are new neighbors there now, but we never see them. A woman and a young girl, and there may be a teenage Goth-looking boy, but I'm not sure. They are never home. The house is dark most evenings and all weekend long. I have no idea of the woman's name, but the young girl's name might be Carly. Or Darcy. She's about eight years old, and she came over to introduce herself to me right after they moved in. But when she asked if she could go swimming in our pool and I had to tell her "no," she hasn't ventured over here much anymore. Gus goes over and barks at her every now and then. He's not very neighborly either.

I'm not sure when this trend began, when neighbors started being distant from one another. I guess it would help matters if I would let people come swim in our pool.

Like that's gonna happen.....


Maggie said...

You certainly had some characters there!

BTW, now I want to live next door and not swim in the pool... :)

Bragger said...

Maggie, you will be the exception to the pool rule. I let my friends come swim - just not random weirdos. And strange small children. You and I, however, can sip margaritas and talk about men. Ha!