Friday, August 29

Good fences (and noise attenuating headsets) make good neighbors

Similar to Tolstoy's thought that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, I believe every bad neighbor is bad in his or her own way.

Whereas in Chicago a bad neighbor might be the jerk who holds his good parking spot in the dead of winter with an amalgam of lawn chairs, garbage cans, and makeshift signs, here in North Carolina we have to worry about things like cars parked in yards, battered lawn chairs standing in for real outdoor furniture, garbage cans being left out to roll around along the curb until the day before the next pickup, and makeshift lawn ornaments (aka tire flower pots).

In all fairness, most houses aren't like that. But every neighborhood has a few bumpkins to deal withyou know, the a-wipes who have pets but keep them chained up outside. We do not keep Cody chained up outside, although sometimes I wish we could. He can be, how do I put this delicately, HIGH MAINTENANCE.

To the point that we actually went for it with one of those ridiculous "magnetic screen door" curtain fiascoes that worked for all of NEVER because he wants to go in and out of the house so much and the magnets only keep the screen against the door frame if you happen never to touch them.

And I'd appreciate you refraining from speeches about how we're the masters, we should decide when he goes in and out. He has perfected the art of using minimal energy to draw out his high-pitched whining sessions for seemingly endless periods. Until you have lived though it, you cannot comment. It's either jump up and down off the couch like a jackrabbit to let him out, or slowly and painfully go insane.

The best part is, Cody is what makes us bad neighbors. Because we'd rather subject them to his ridiculousness than suffer through it ourselves.

There's a large number of wild cats around (another drawback of countryish life), which inevitably drive him into a frenzy. Although some of them are irritatingly forward. One that we call The Imposter (because it looks identical to our girls) actually stood at our back sliding door one night. I went to the door to let the cat in, and Cody made a beeline and chased it through the yard and into the woods. I was about to scold him when Sophie and Zoe came meandering out from their various sleeping spots, asking what the heck was going on and what was all the commotion.

It wouldn't even be so bad if he maintained a steady but somewhat endearing beagle-esque howl, but he doesn't. What starts as a charming hoo-oo-oo of a hound turns into a full-throated dog scream. I wish there were some way for me to record him doing the dog scream and post it for you all to hear, but frankly I don't want to be seen out-of-doors when he's doing it. I'm too afraid we'll be confronted by some disgruntled citizen asking if I realize that my dog's screams echo through the neighborhood, and then I'd have no way of denying that I know it happens.

This is very similar to the time a neighbor left a ride-on lawnmower in the exact geometric center of his backyard for upwards of 14 months, marring our view of the beautiful hill leading down into a valley. We never saw him until he finally moved the dang thing, and now he's Mr. Friendly Pants.

I'd love to hear your bad neighbor stories, if only to make myself feel better about our relatively trivial badness.


Anonymous said...

My bad neighbor story consists of a shady, ummm I can't say this nicely, Mexican-Jew, who happened to be peddling diamonds or some other form of illegal activity out of his house...positioned right next to mine. Many large men broke in one night, all with guns and stole $20,000, 6 flat screen TVs, many Mac computers and 'diamonds'. Thank god no one fired any guns. Our Centex home did not come with the bullet-proof package. Needless to say, the next day they were no longer our neighbors.

Anonymous said...

My parents seem to attract neighbors who mow their entire lawn then proceed to blow all of their loose-grass and scraps into my parents drive-way. They also have neighbors across the street who refuse to mow or weedeat around my parents mailbox which just happens to sit in their yard due to this thing we call the U.S. Postal Service.

I personally like my neighbors who refuse to get a trash can, so they throw their untied trash out at the curb a few days in advance of trash collection. Needless to say they feed the homeless cats in the neighborhood and they probably don't even realize it. I'm sure I could go on and on, but this is your blog isn't it? =)

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