I used to have great neighbors. The kind of neighbors that instinctively knew when to stop and chat and when to let you hurry into the house, head down, knees buckled, obviously on your way to the bathroom. The kind of neighbors that were happy to let you "borrow" their fall leaves for your compost pile, the kind of neighbors that would stop you and say "I just picked a whole bucket of blueberries but I'll never eat them, would you like some?" The kind of neighbors that would accept your offer of garden tomatoes with grace. In short, I had the kind of neighbors that you wanted to put in your pocket and carry around with you to show off to others who weren't so fortunate.
I want my neighbors back.
I was lucky on both sides of our house until a few years back. One neighbor sold his house to his brother and the other neighbor retired and moved up north. (That's how cool he was, instead of retiring and moving to Florida, he retired and moved to International Falls.)
Now, the house with the brother in it is a bastion of "WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT BITCH??!!" attitude. Aside from our differing views on politics as judged in the arena of bumper stickers and lawn signs, my neighbor seems to have issues with people of the femine persuasion. I believe he went through a bitter divorce but whether he was a dick before that or has become one due to it, the end result is that he is a dick...
This man knows me by site but when he would walk into my place of business a few years back (the YMCA), and I would say "Hi _____", he would look me in the eye with such a hateful indifference that I learned quickly to shut up. Then, after a snowfall, my kids were going door to door and asking people if they wanted their driveways shoveled. Unfortunately, I had not instructed them in the wily ways of the true dickhead. When they had finished, he paid my son considerably more than my daughter, telling my son "Well, you worked harder". My kids both said that they worked equally hard.
And when my kids asked him if they could pick raspberries from his bush that hangs over into our yard, I overheard this and (cringing) turned around to offer to swap him a bowl of raspberries for a bowl of blueberries from our garden, he told the kids to stay away from his bush. The berries later went on to rot on the vine.
Then, Sir Kvetch-a-Lot gets a dog. A golden lab. A golden lab that has never worn a leash in all the years that he has been an active member in our community. And I do mean active. It is apparently ok to let your dog run through your neighbors yard, crapping where ever he likes, as well as running through your neighbors garden and knocking over all the plants. I have actually pulled into my own garage, stepped out of the car, and had this dog come into my garage and bark at me.
Then, our new neighbors on the other side of us got a dog.
And they must belong to the same anti-leash religion.
And now whenever I am outside and they let their dog out, he comes running up to me in full barking mode. I have held my hand out to the dog, introduced myself, let him smell me, and he still does this everytime. At least these neighbors apologize but frankly, I'd rather have their dog on a leash than an apology any day.
All of this canine angst makes me wax poetic. There is a reason Billy Collins is my favorite poet...
Another reason why I don't keep a gun in the house-Billy Collins
The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.
The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house and
put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,
and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.
When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton
while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.