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November 19, 2007 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Won’t you be my neighbor?

I wish that we lived in a neighborhood with actual sidewalks, and front porches; and old people sitting on said front porches, and people standing out on the front lawn with a hose, spraying the kids that keep zipping through their yard.  Basically, I wish for something out of a 1950’s television show…or at least something that resembled the neighborhood I grew up in. 

We really did have sidewalks, and as kids, we drew all over those sidewalks with chalk and sticks and rocks.  We pulled the vegetables from our neighbor’s garden, and the neighbors would yell “I’m telling your parents!” but they never really did.  We strung a string-can telephone down the entire alley behind the house, and used it as a form of communication during the frequent Boys Against Girls neighborhood water balloon wars.  We picked the poisonous berries from the bushes in our yards (the kind of berries that birds sometimes eat and fly into windows, drunk) and squished them everywhere including on the sidewalk in front of our neighbor’s house.  The neighbors would pffft with disgust, and get the hose out again, and spray off all of our hard work.  This happened all summer long.  We got tossed out of our houses sometime in the morning and we didn’t come back until the sun was going down, and even then we didn’t want to go back inside, but we had to, and we took baths and the water was pretty much mud when we finished with the bath. 

The only neighbor the local kids feared was ‘Old Man Swisher’ who lived four houses down and never came out.  We could hear the ferocious dogs barking when we dared to pass by the house on the way to the park, or when we walked to the end of the block to spy on the funeral home’s coffin deliveries.  Swisher was rumored to have a basement full of kids’ skeletons, because when kids went in his yard, he grabbed them and they never made it home.  Because Swisher hated kids.  So we kids stayed away from Swisher.  Those were the rules.  Know which neighbors you can irritate, and also know the degree of irritation they will tolerate before calling your Mom.  We knew this as children.

If only grown-up neighbors behaved as such. 

The second day in our new house we were greeted by a nice older couple.  Older couple carried baked goods, once known to Americans as the national goodwill gesture for new neighbors.  Unfortunately, these baked goods were merely a distraction device…a plate of brownies baked only to guarantee their safe entry into our abode.  They made small talk, invited us over for dinner, and left their phone numbers.  They seemed like really nice people and we were happy with our choice of neighborhood. 

Recently it has come to light that the brownie-bearers were here only to determine whether or not we had connected to the county sewer line.  (Long, ugly story)  

These neighbors weren’t nice, friendly folk after all.  They are old, cantankerous HOA-police, nosy retirees with nothing left to do but prepare for death and spy on everyone else while they wait.  We’ve met some other neighbors who have had similar run-ins with them, or their evil henchmen.  Can you believe they have evil henchmen?  They report on the state of people’s roofs, yards, walls, stucco, and gravel color.  They write letters to the land developer asking to count flowers purchased for the common areas, thankfully they courtesy copy everyone in the neighborhood so we can enjoy the fun:

Neighbor’s letter to the developer:    “Your amenity bill charged me $1.22 this month for landscaping, I see that it says you have purchased 314 flowers for the neighborhood.  I don’t see any flowers planted.”

Developer’s response:  “The flowers are not going to be planted until May when the ground is ready.  Since it’s only February, we’re going to keep the plants in a heated greenhouse.  I assure you that we have purchased the 314 plants and you are welcome to come count them if you like.”

Neighbor:  “I would like to count the plants please.  Can you tell me where the greenhouse is?”

These are not the kind of people that need to fret about $1.22 in charges.  But fight on, neighbors!  The more you bother the land developers, the less you are bothering the other homeowners! 

I’m doing everything I can to resist posting them here.  I’d do it, but I think that would put me in the same category that they reside in: jerks.  I’ll tell you what, though: next time they come sniffing around with a plate of brownies, I am totally spraying them with the hose.     

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6 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. maleesha / Feb 23 2008 7:20 am

    Glad to hear it. Kids have such a silly view of the world. Thanks for posting!

  2. maggie / Feb 22 2008 10:09 pm

    Yes, we live in a similiar neighborhood, I think we all do. But, as far as old man Swisher he was one of a kind. His bark was worse than his bite and he actually really enjoyed kids. Old man swisher was my grandpa, I can see were the stories of grouchy old man swisher came from.

  3. cherikooka / Nov 21 2007 9:28 am

    Holy crap! That’s just wrong. You know, there are always houses in Spring Valley for sale 🙂

  4. pikespeakdenise / Nov 21 2007 6:52 am

    I am so checking out the rotten neighbor site next.

    Do go for the hose next time!

  5. frontporchforum / Nov 20 2007 7:43 pm
  6. wpm1955 / Nov 19 2007 2:57 pm

    Wow! Unbelievable neighbors. And I thought our neighbors were bad!

    Madame Monet
    Writing, Painting, Music, and Wine
    winewriter.wordpress.com

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