July 27, 2007

Earlier today our next door neighbor stopped by, pounding at my front door for several minutes while I completely ignored her, assuming it was just the contractors working on the addition (they had been whacking various things with hammers all afternoon). When I finally came out to see what all the ruckus was, she told me she just wanted to let me know they were having a party on Saturday night. I immediately started brainstorming excuses as to why I would be unable to attend, such as a chronic case of housemaid’s knee in addition to inflammation of the blowhole, but as it turned out she only wanted to inform me of the event so I wouldn’t call the cops.

“There might be some noise until around 11 or so,” she said. “One year someone called the police, can you imagine?”

As a matter of fact, I could imagine, because she is the very same person who called the cops a few years ago to complain that Dog was barking, which she later explained as “paranoia” because she was alone in her house and thought maybe Dog was barking at an intruder. Which Dog would only do if said intruder was dressed in a squirrel costume, but I guess she didn’t know that.

“Boy,” I said. “That’s just crazy, you’d think a neighbor would call you before just calling the police over something like that.” My ham-handed attempt at a lecture utterly failed, though, because she agreed wholeheartedly, shaking her head in disbelief.

Other than Clueless McCopperton, we don’t really know any of our neighbors, which I think is a bummer. I mean, we’re on a friendly-wave basis with a few, but that’s about it. The surrounding blocks are a grab-bag, demographically speaking, and I haven’t seen a lot of people our age or people with little kids. It makes me wonder what things will be like when Riley’s a little older—I hope we unearth some playmates within walking distance. Some of my favorite memories of growing up in Virginia have to do with playing outside with nearby kids, even including that one time I plummeted out of my friend Stacy’s weeping willow tree smack onto a picnic table.

Both JB and I are kind of socially impaired, which makes it hard to meet new people. But my feeling is that people in this area aren’t as friendly as people in, say, a Fannie Flagg book—everyone seems happy to stick to their own yard, their own business. Which is how I feel 99% of the time myself. Except I’d like Riley to feel exactly as if he was living in a Fannie Flagg book, you know what I mean?

What about you, do you know know your neighbors?


84 Responses to “Won’t you be mine”

  1. Marolyn on July 28th, 2007 10:33 am

    We only know the across the street and up one, neighbors because my husband used to work with the man of the house there.. but no socializing between us. However they and our directly nextdoor neighbors ( whom we are only on waving and smiling basis with) seem to hang out alot because of their children being the same ages.. makes for slow driving in the evening with 6 kids in the street, but we don’t mind. However it was funny when at 8:30 AM on Mother’s Day MORNING a stanger knocked on our door to ask how much we were asking for our pool. I asked HOW in the world she knew since we hadn’t advertised yet. Our nextdoor neighbors had told their aunt at the diner and she inturn told the mother of the lady that was knocking that we were selling it. !!! How they found out is still a mystery( wire taps? hidden web cams?), but we sold the pool and didn’t have to advertise so that’s a bonus!
    Oh and By the way.. have you seen Night of the Living Dorks? German made, English (well) dubbed and WAY Dorky(as the name implies) movie, but if you know it going in it’s still worth getting on Netflix!

  2. Genie on July 28th, 2007 11:21 am

    I didn’t know you grew up in Virginia – I’m in Norfolk! We don’t talk to any of our neighbors other than a friendly wave now and then and I worry about that (add it to the list of things I fret about on a regular basis). But most of our neighbors are old and don’t leave their “sitting rooms” or wherever they stay all day.

    I had a fantasy about inviting all our neighbors over for a Nosy Neighbor party after we renovated so they could see what we’d done with the space. It might spark some conversation and relationships and I could hand pick who I invite and not invite the one neighbor who creeps me out. But that would involve us cleaning up the tumbleweeds of dog hair and tons of prep work rather than just walking over and saying hello. :)

  3. Mary on July 28th, 2007 11:39 am

    Looking for more lemurs? How about kangaroos and emus? I just saw a local story about this farm in Arlington, WA that has them… I’ve seen that you go to petting zoo/farms often and this one looks like it might be fun and different. Hopefully better than the Issaquah Zoo *shudder*

  4. Sunshyn on July 28th, 2007 11:39 am

    Let’s see. Neighbors on one side built upwards in order to accommodate their five grown daughters and one son and all their S/Os, and all their children, who ALL have vehicles (except the little kids, and there are two more of them on the way, which will increase the little kid total to five). There is no parking in front of their house (no parking here to corner). Across the street is a shabby place that should be out in the country, not on the corner of a main thoroughfare. It belongs to a contractor. He has cars, trucks, trailers, and assorted workers, all parking on our street. They all do meth because how else could they possibly do construction. And they drink. And his grown daughter and her various scumbucket boyfriends are always around drinking and driving fast down the street where (see above) various children, including mine, are playing outside. Not that I’d let my child play with these kids, necessarily, and if I did, I’d be out there with both eyes trained on the entire scene. In 100 degree heat. We have a perfectly nice backyard. Does said child want to play there? Of course not. Across the street is a perfectly nice couple with two yapping doxies. They go out in their boat when it’s nice and disappear into their house the rest of the time. I think they drink (we don’t, so we’re no fun). Next door is a retired Mexican lady. She’s actually the best neighbor we have. Her grandkids come over to play. They rent bouncehouses and stuff and always invite our kidlet to join (but not the other neighborhood kids). We don’t know one other neighbor on the entire street until way down the street, there is a nice couple with a boy about the kidlet’s age and a baby girl. We keep meaning to set up a play date for the boys, but they might as well live over the river and through the woods. When we moved in, we had a yard sale, and three, count ’em, three neighbors actually came to greet us. This is a long street we’re talking about. Oh, and behind us we have the loud, raspy-voiced rednecks with their new country blaring and their woofing big dog, and somewhere around the corner we have the Mexicans who have the occasional party with the bass booming all night long. A neighborhood listserv, someone mentioned? Sounds cool. But not in my ‘hood, I’m afraid.

  5. LauraH on July 28th, 2007 12:02 pm

    I adore my neighbors…but it took a while. Looking at our house, the neighbor on the right is also a real estate appraiser, so we have a lot in common. BUT, she was an unmarried real estate appraiser for awhile and was a little *too close* to my husband. She is married now. I feel better. The neighbors on the left are AWESOME. She is an 8th grade school teacher, he is a machinist. We all have a lot in common. They agree not to freak out if there is much yelling coming from our house and vice versa. Their boys are close enough in age for my son to have someone to play with…and they replaced the first neighbors we had. The ones who were constantly “praying” for us. I couldn’t help shaking the thought that they were praying against us.

  6. Emily on July 28th, 2007 1:30 pm

    longtime lurker. . .

    I know exactly the conflict you’re describing–I’m very much a keep-to-myself type, but I’ve just moved to a brand new city and I’m longing for some new friends. Two months in, not a peep from any of the neighbors.

    On the other hand, my sister, brother-in-law, and their kids live in an idyllic suburban cul-de-sac and I’ve always been a little jealous, thinking, I could never hang, but it’s nice that she has this whole social whirl in her backyard: kids running in and out of each other’s houses, monthly bunko games with the women (or some shit like that), and block parties. All was going well until her marriage hit the rocks and a neighbor/friend actually called my sister’s office to report her concerns about my sister’s growing friendship with a male co-worker. The same neighbor organized the other women in the area so that when my sister went around one afternoon to find an emergency sitter, they all made transparent excuses. And here I thought the Scarlet Letter was a thing of the past. Anyway, that cooled my interest in being buddies with the neighbors.

  7. nstig8r on July 28th, 2007 3:14 pm

    some of my neighbors are ok i guess, tho i don’t know them well. some of them i don’t need to know–i’m pretty sure there’s some suspicious activity going on in this ‘hood and i’d like to stay out of it (drug use &/or sales). i like to be close enough w/ neighbors for a wave or quick chat but my home is my escape from the rest of the world so i don’t want people showing up from next door wanting to have a big conversation or hang out when i’m just trying to relax and forget the world.

  8. H on July 28th, 2007 3:33 pm

    When we moved into our first house (20 years ago), our neighborhood was full of young couples. Everyone eventually had children around the same time and at first it was great – the kind of neighborhood you are dreaming of. Then, neighbor immediately next door stopped parenting her own kids (because her husband wouldn’t help) and expected us to do it for her. Plus she gave birth to the devil’s child. I always wanted to check his scalp for 666. Then she got super nosy and overly comfortable and would just walk into our house without knocking. She even got mad when we got new furniture and didn’t tell her before it was delivered. She was very critical of how we raised our children because, of course, hers were PERFECT. The other neighbors were generally OK and then a super religious family moved in and the wife decided to tell all the small children in the neighborhood that Santa doesn’t exist and Halloween is for sinners.

    Nosy neighbor finally pushed us over the edge and we moved to a different house in the same town. It was the best thing we ever did for our family. Now, we live in a cul-de-sac with a lot of variety — long since retired couple, families with small children, families with teens, and one guy who treats his lawn as if it is his child and another who will spend hours every week washing, drying, waxing and polishing his car. We all wave to each other and get along well enough to socialize at the community mailbox, if we run into each other there. We have one resident nut-job who I got to know a little more than was probably wise, but she’s OK as long as we limit our interaction to a wave every now and then.

    I grew up in a small town and even though our immediate neighbors weren’t our close friends, I could ride my bike or run down the street to my friends’ houses. It was a farming community, though, so the “country kids” (not meant in a derogatory way — they lived in the country, not in town) disappeared during the summer and it was always fun to see my “country friends” when school started. Once we were old enough to drive, though, it didn’t matter.

  9. Jennifer on July 28th, 2007 4:16 pm

    Love the majority of our neighbors – we’re all around the same age and we have a pretty active neighborhood social committee so it’s nice to be able to get out and meet everyone (if that’s your thing.)

    The one exception is the house directly across the street where the Complainers live. They just kind of suck all around. Wife is snooty with Bitchy Dog and husband is garden variety asshole who scoots around neighborhood on homemade motorized scooted that appears to be powered by a jet engine. Douchebags.

  10. Nikki on July 28th, 2007 4:43 pm

    Our neighbors are …unusual.
    One of them told me, when she came down to introduce herself the first week we’d lived here, that I would find that she didn’t like to eat and she didn’t like to poop. Well. Then.
    Needless to say, she’s a wackjob and a half. Another neighbor is unaffectionately referred to as TheOldBat because, well…she is one. She decided that we were allowing our dog to do it’s “bizness” in her yard (in spite of the fact said Dog wasn’t ever off the leash because she ran like the wind!) and proceeded to throw dog crap all over my car. She also likes to randomly pick up branches and throw them over the fence and into our back yard. ‘Nuff said.
    Yet another neighbor is in his mid-20’s and likes to bring home women from the bar (they usually tend to be screamers—hate open windows in the summertime) and the entire neighborhood knows when the strobe lights a-flashin’, avoid his end of the street and shut your own windows!
    Other than that, most everyone else tends to keep to themselves and it’s pretty quiet. Thank goodness!

  11. Fifi on July 28th, 2007 4:56 pm

    We know our neighbors, and most of the city as well. Our next-doors are the living embodiment of the Simpsons. D’oh! Very fun to watch . There are lots of little enclaves here but we do all tend to mix. Having a dog and a small child might be making that all easier Still, our city does have citywide events, and most people show up. I was never really able to put down roots in this country until I moved here.

  12. Kat on July 28th, 2007 6:28 pm

    I don’t know my neighbors. This makes me sad, but it also feels WEIRD to try to make friendly overtures. I guess I’m socially impaired as well.

    Occasionally, I do smile at them, so I imagine they know that I don’t hate them for the overly loud music at night or the thumping.

  13. LJ on July 28th, 2007 7:24 pm

    The neighborhood that I grew up in had lots of families with kids. All our parents knew each other and all us kids played with each other and went to school together.
    After being married for 20+ years we live out of town, not in a neighborhood, and do know our neighbors. We speak over the fences, wave, borrow items occasionally, collect mail when out of town, kids visit, have a friendly relationship. An older couple is on one side and another couple around our 40-50ish age. They have one kid still at home and ours are both here for a few more years.

  14. Blue on July 28th, 2007 7:24 pm

    We moved into our neighborhood in this Midwest suburb 25 years ago when our kids were 5 and 18 months old. Pretty much everyone had kids in the same age group and they all grew up together. Flashlight tag, bike riding, swimming, fishing in the ponds, playing baseball in the commons area….it was great. They all went to school together, of course, and none of them were their “best” friends, but they all got along great for those after school and weekend play times. Parents were all decent people with common interests (their kids!), and I had ended up with a couple of close girlfriends out of it all.

    Now all these kids have grown and moved on, but many of the parents are still here. We wave and chat when we see each other outside, but nothing more than that. (Sadly, my two good friends each died a few years ago at the too young age of early 50s.)

    Anyway, this was a great place for our kids to grow up and we are still enjoying being here and don’t plan to move. I do feel for a few of the newer neighbors with small kids, tho, because this area doesn’t have a high turnover rate and there aren’t any other kids for them to play with. I’m not so sure kids play outside that much anymore, anyway! Which is too bad, y’know? I always enjoyed hearing the kids playing outside on a summer evening!

  15. Christina on July 29th, 2007 5:14 am

    It seems I missed this one – damn me for leaving work early on Friday!

    We just moved in March and I was SO hopeful our newer more
    “upscale” neighborhood would provide us some fun people with kids our age to hang out with but there has not been anything really. I should say that the neighbors on one side own 40 acres and a farm and this is “city” home which is funny because we live in a town of 40,000 (swells to 90,000 when the students come in the fall…) and the ones on the other side totally tried with us – she and her husband came over and chatted us up (they are from Albania orginially) and brought bread and their daughter was total pest in that 4 yr old I have no play mates sort of way and my older sister is 10 years older then me. Their daughter saw that is was my son’s party back in May and asked my husband if she could come and he said “well go ask your dad and if he says yes then you can come…” I was skeptical and in hind site I probably should have gone and asked myself but we did not. She came to the party and all she wanted was cake and then left as soon as finally had the cake and took her door prizes! Ever since then the family gives us the cold shoulder and they will hardly look at us. Opps… I swear we are normal nice people…

    I have tried to talk with the young couple with a son who is close to my son’s age but that failed miserably. I am like you not socially gifted – if it was my husband we would be over their for dinner tonight but me I am a dud. SO… here we are. We (my husband) met the couple that just bought the house done the street (Ben and Lisa) and they seemed nice.

    At any rate, I guess I thought after living CA my whole life that the midwest would be a pancea for friendly neighbors but I was OH so wrong. I too have fond memories of childhood friends and I want that for my son so I may need to work on my social skills a bit more! LOL!

  16. omuchacha on July 29th, 2007 7:40 am

    Onone side we’ve got a guy on the Yamaha Snowmobile team and his gf. They’re cool. their other side is someone who literally vacuums his lawn. That guy ticked her off one day and we ended up with the gf building us a retaining wall out of that incident. Don’t ask, but she wanted to be nice and I was really pregnant at the time. It worked for me, and the wall is beautiful! The other side was call redneck #2. It’s a guy and his wife and their two children. They moved in right after us and bought a vicious German Shepherd puppy. Really vicious. That’s why we put up a 6 foot privacy fence around our back yard. They just got rid of the German Shepherd, and even though is wife is due in October they thought it was a perfect time to get a new Golden Retreiver puppy. Ugh! It’ll definitely be untrained, but at least this one won’t be vicious. Across the street is a single guy and his roomate. He’s quiet and fine.

    Then around the corner and down a few houses there’s the house where the murder happened. That’s a fun neighborhood landmark now. That was last Saturday. Rumor has it they were in debt, so he took out insurance on his wife, then shot her. Niiiiccceee…

  17. Kim on July 29th, 2007 12:52 pm

    We’re living near Woodland Park zoo, and have pretty great neighbors. We’ve met quite a few since moving in in April. Most people seem to spend a fair amount of time outside and walking around and there’s a nice assortment of older people, children and pets. I met very few of our neighbors back in New York and none when we were in Fremont, so this is a nice change.

  18. Keri on July 29th, 2007 3:43 pm

    We are on a friendly-wave basis with our neighbors as well but that’s it. Even worse, their kids are around the same age as my son. I’m not sure if they are avoiding us like the plague because we are deaf (except for my son) or not. Our social life revolves around other deaf people, some who live within driving distance. It would be nice to develop a relationship with our neighbors though like some of my deaf friends have with their neighbors. We probably will as our son gets older and begins playing with their children. We’ll see as that’s a couple of years from now.

  19. kendra! on July 30th, 2007 12:28 pm

    I’m stunned! I thought urrrybody in Seattle was all composting together and making merry w/ neighbors!

    I believe I am one of 3 white women who live in my zip code. My hub is Korean, our neighbors are Vietnamese and Haitian and Cape Verdean. You best believe I’m reaching out, givin’ the neighbors a holla.

  20. Karla on July 30th, 2007 1:45 pm

    Overall, we don’t really know our neighbours, except to the right, we call the guy Jungle Jim because he has never ever EVER mowed his backyard, and to the right, we call her Crazy Nancy, because she is so crazy and told my husband that she is having boob surgery because when she walks up the stairs her boobs wack her knees. She also came over to trick and treat when I was pregnant and she thought she had chicken pox (that was knowing I had already lost my first born and then had a miscarriage). Yeah, that was a long way to say, no, we don’t really like our neighbours.

  21. Katie on July 31st, 2007 6:57 am

    Best friends ever. “I love livin’ in the ‘hood” Is what we say often. Of course the ‘hood is the neighborhood. On any given day there can be 10 kids out in the back yard. Love it.
    We live in Westfield, Indiana. :)

  22. lee on July 31st, 2007 12:55 pm

    in my first neighborhood, i had coke dealers on both sides and across the sreet.

    in my second neighborhood, i had a rapper wannabe who played lots of bass-filled rap while he worked on his hoopty car daily. my husband asked him politely to lower it because it actually broke some of our dishes and good wine glasses from the vibrations. he gave my husband the ” don’t try to oppress my culture” lecture, so my husband (who is native indian and italian) put the peavey concert speakers in the kitchen window facing the car repair area and played that “cherokee people/indian reservation” song full blast until the rap stopeed….he played it 37 times. he also had “that’s amor” on tap in case the knucklehead needed some of his italian culture.

    in my current neighborhood we had a really horrid family who constantly had to remind us they were christians because you couldn’t tell it by their actions. they moved and we got a mixed caucasian husband/mexican wife who are ideal enighbors 364 days a year, but by god, i am leaving town next year on cinco de mayo. we also have the creepy family no one ever sees except when they go to work, and the single mother who spends all her time watching her children play in OUR yard while she talks on her cellphone.

    i have never had any problem with vandalism by children because i am the cool lady who decorates a halloween haunted house and gives out big ass treat bags. i have, however, been stalked by a grown woman from a neighboring subdivision who not only tried to engage me in her road rage, but silly-stringed my car a month later. i heard her doing it at 2 am, snuck outside and took photos before she realized i was out there. she had her 3 children helping her! i reported her to the police and she got 80 hours community service for stalking, vandalism, trespassing and malicious michief.

    we have an homeowner’s association, but it is inactive due to the last president looting the fund and paying his kids $25.00 and hour to stuff useless and repetitive flyers in our mailbox on a weekly basis. he happened to be one of the coke dealers from our first neighborhood!

    did you know it is against the law to put anything in, on or around a mailbox that has not been stamped and processed by the USPS? the fine for each occurance, meaning each flyer multiplied by each house, is $10,000??? so if you multiply 125 houses by 26 flyers a year that’s $32,500,000.00……..yes, 32 MILLION! needless to say, once the HOA was informed and audited their books, they changed their ploicy of screwing with the mailboxes!

  23. Telegirl on July 31st, 2007 1:12 pm

    OK, I have to start by saying I do like my neighbors on either side. They are very nice people.

    But, one neighbor replied to me when I told him I was pregnant last year, “Yeah, we know. My wife saw you drinking milk the other day with dinner.” Which implies that they watched us on a regular basis drinking wine/beer/Lynchburg Lemonades and noticed that I had started drinking milk. That freaked my husband out. I’m still OK with it because now we have some renters in our house and they are just perfect neighbors for that.

    Then, one time, a couple years ago we had a girlfriend over and were imbibing on the back deck with one of those fire pits going. I kept hearing sirens and they were getting closer and closer. And closer. Until I saw a man with a flashlight climbing over my fence. The neighbors to the back called the fire department. Why didn’t they just yell over the fence and ask if everything was OK? We were back there talking and laughing. Whatever.

    Lastly, I came home to a nasty note about my dog barking. They didn’t tell me who it was, but told me that they had contacted the police and I needed to deal with it. First, my dog wasn’t home at said time. Second, tell me who you are so I can apologize (if he is barking, that is) and so I can stop obsessing about who wrote the damn thing.

    I say, neighbors are fine but I’m buying a house with some acreage next time.

  24. Mel on July 31st, 2007 3:18 pm

    My current next-door neighbor told us about the house going up for sale, so I am happy to say we know those neighbors really well. The neighbors across the street I don’t know, except the guy came over and offered to replace the mailbox as he colllide into it with his moving van. It must’ve been their anniversary because some painted card with flowers signed, “Your snuggle bunny” was seen on their garage and didn’t come off with the persistently pouring rain. *smile* We know our neighbors to the left of us and the people on the corner and even some people behind us. Ian will have children in the neighorhood to play with, which is something I didn’t have growing up so I’m glad he gets the chance to.

  25. Melanie on July 31st, 2007 5:16 pm

    Our neighbors suck. I mean, when you live in a cheap apartment complex, you have to sort of expect your neighbors to suck, I guess. But it doesn’t make me hate it less. Every time someone moves out I dream of a nice family moving in, one with parents who are present to watch their kids, and kids who don’t throw their trash on the ground or run around in the street yelling late at night or steal your toys if you leave them in your back storage area. But it’s only just more awful people, and usually worse people. I wish we could move. I want my son to grow up in one of those fairy tale 1950s communities where there are potlucks and block parties and everyone gathers in the evening to play together or have a barbecue or something.

  26. Janis on July 31st, 2007 7:24 pm

    Oh God no……..no neighbors, please! I am a nurse and as soon as a neighbor sees me exit my vehicle after a 64 hour shift with my scrubs on, they beeline to my house to show me their weeping boils or their new prescription for their husbands “rectile dysfunction” Can’t stand it!! When I pull into my driveway, I scrunch way down in the seat so as to show only 2 hairs on my head, reach sneakily for the garage door opener and idol into the garage trying not to make a sound…I vehemently deny my address if anyone asks me..”hey don’t you live down the street from me?”
    But what really sucks is that my neighbors probably don’t suck, they are probably really nice people, but I can’t get past the third degree!!

  27. Kay on August 4th, 2007 4:07 pm

    Just bought a new house and moved but met one of our neighbors the other day, he wanted to know if our “lectriciteeeeeeee” was on becuz hiz wuz out in hiz chicken housez..

    (don’t ask me why I spelled everything with z’s, it just works)

    Needless to say I am glad that my neighbors are far apart here in the country and the general farmer’s wave does just fine.

  28. biodtl on August 5th, 2007 12:28 pm

    We have a few neighbors that are OK, but several jackasses, too. Like the ones that LOVE fireworks and set them off all summer long into the wee hours. And my favorites, the ones next door that don’t speak to us unless necessary, refuse to even look at us when they are outside in the yard (and seriously, how can you ignore a 2 year old waving and saying hello?) and one time told us we can’t be friends with each other’s dogs.

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