Friday, June 17, 2011

The Letter My Neighbors Won't Get

Dear Neighbors,

What is the matter with you people?  You live in the most beautiful place on earth and instead of letting it affect you in a positive manner, you scowl.  I smile at you.  You scowl at me.  I get that you have life-things to worry about.  I get that your job sucks and your bank account is skinny.  I get that your life isn't perfect.  I get that your house needs to be painted, your lawn needs to be mowed.  I get that you're worn out, beat up, sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I get that.  I can't get how that affects our neighbor relationship.  All I wish is you'd mix in a smile for once.  Even a fake one would be okay.  You might decide you like it and muster up a real one.

When we moved in you didn't come say hello.  You came to complain about our dog.  You all came.  He was barking/whining/pooping on your porch.  I guess you couldn't tell I was making a heck of an effort to move and control my wild dog.  I guess me chasing him up and down the river gave you the impression I condoned his behavior.  I guess my yelling at and pleading with the dog showed my indifference.  I guess when I sat sobbing in the street, defeated, soaking wet with leash in hand, that could have been mistaken for intent to let my dog bother you.

One of the first nights we were here, Dee was working and I ran into Vancouver to get another load of our things.  When I came back, the dog was gone.  The next morning, you knocked on my door to tell me you came to get my dog because he was carrying on barking and whining after I left.  You said you lived across the river.  I recognized you immediately as someone I worked with up until just a few months prior.  But that day you were wearing makeup and a pink jogging suit and earrings.  You had boobs.  When I worked with you at YRC you were, um, er... a man.  Yeah, fairly certain about this one.  You had an adam's apple (you still do, btw) and a man's name and a man's voice.  I could tell you didn't recognize me, so I said "Jim, right?  I'm Spring, we used to work together?"  "Oh, oh, yes.  I'm sorry," you said, "you look so different with your glasses on."  You looked a little different, too, Jim.  Like a lady that used to be a gentleman.  If that's what you are, then I'm glad you made a move on it.  Good for you.  Barli was pleased to make your acquaintance and sends his love.     

Barli, damned dog.  You all came about the dog.  It was January and freezing-ass cold and raining sideways.  I was unloading a U-Haul by myself in twilight.  I was dirty, wet, and bleeding from my forehead.  You came to complain about Barli, but didn't greet me warmly or make even a token offer to help me with the desk I was trying to wrestle out of the truck.  I do apologize for suggesting you take matters into your own hands and "shoot the bastard.  I hate him, too.  No, really, he's out of control.  I'd do it, but I don't own a gun.  Don't look at me like that, I'm serious.  I promise I won't tell.  He causes problems for you again, you shoot him full of holes, you hear.  Worthless, good-for-nothin' mutt had it coming."  I told you it was a pleasure meeting you and smiled to myself when you left.  I replayed the look on your face (after I told you to off my dog) over in my head til I had the giggles.  I'm truly sorry.  In retrospect, that probably wasn't my best effort at neighborliness either.

Some of you came to complain on behalf of someone else.  "You know, I personally don't have a problem with your dog, but so-and-so down the street..."  Some of you left notes in the mailbox. "Please keep your dog in your yard!"  Some of you even stopped my dad when he came to visit.  Why would you bother him?  In one way or another, you all voiced your opinion of the dog without a "pleased to meet you".  No small talk.  Only dog talk.  Bad dog talk.   

When summer came, you decided you liked the dog after all.  You walked right through our yard and onto our stairs to the river.  You brought your friends and your kids and their friends.  You made me put up No Trespassing signs.  I can't stand No Trespassing signs.  Several of you told me you had deeded access and it was your right to go traipsing through my yard.  A few of you were borderline belligerent about it.  Sorry, neighbors, but the person who submitted your easement wasn't any smarter than you are nice.  The easement on file with the county grants seven people, five of whom are now deceased, access to the easterly five feet of our property.  That gets you 100 feet from our yard and 20 feet from our driveway.  That gets you 15 feet away from our steps to the river.  Please keep your family in your yard.  If you would have just asked nicely, I would have said yes.

And while I've got you, why do you keep calling the authorities on us?  Yeah, across the river, I'm talking to you.  Just because you can't see the doghouse from your vantage point does not mean we don't have one.  Just because the dog looks skinny doesn't mean we don't feed him.  Quit calling the Humane Society.  They have better things to do.  Just because I cut a few dead branches off a tree on our hillside does not mean I am out to destroy nature.  Just because I moved a rock that was damming up slow water on our property into a mosquito breeding pond does not mean I hate steelhead and wish to decimate their breeding ground (c'mon Jill, steelhead don't spawn there... and how would they even get there from the river?  There is dry land separating them.  Steelhead stay in the water.  They're fish.  That's what fish do.)  So quit calling the department of fish and game.  And seriously, just because I'm a night owl does not mean I'm operating a clandestine lab over here, so please quit calling the DEA.

After you had the narcotics unit stake us out, I didn't confront you, but I did take a picture of you and photo-shopped your head on the body of an insanely fat woman.  I then opened a Facebook page in your name and used the fat lady photo as your profile picture.  I periodically confirm friend requests from people you went to school with.  I'm sure they get a chuckle "Oh my, did you see how big Jill got?  How funny is that!? I wouldn't have a profile pic if I were her!"  Sorry.  I'm kind of passive aggressive that way.  Also, I should mention you act like an idiot when you are drunk at your parties, which is often. (oh, and why are there no women besides Jim at your river bashes?  That's kind of weird, don't you think?  Just wondering.)  You called once to say you were sorry for shouting insults at us the night before.  You said you couldn't remember doing that.  You said sometimes when you drink you can't remember anything.  I'm not a doctor, but that's a blackout, my dear, and a good indication you may have a problem.  Good luck with that.  If you go to rehab, try and make it in the summer time.  I long for a sunny day here when I don't have to see your white butt in a bikini, whaled up on your side of the river.  Oh, and you're welcome for the cupcakes I waded across the river to you.

And speaking of drinking problems, you two to the east need to quit trying to call the dog over past his invisible fence for a game of chase the ball or a Beggin' Strip.  You are foiling my efforts at containing him in his yard.  He's easily confused.  You were one of the first ones to complain about him.  You changed your mind and like the dog now?  Too bad.  We're training over here.  Why don't you have a few more and start throwing things at each other.  As if you needed encouragement.

Hartmut to the south, thanks for at least asking if you could destroy the top of our driveway with your tow truck.  I do appreciate the warning.  But it's been a year and a half now and I still haven't seen that gravel you promised.  That's okay, Hartmut.  God love you.  Your accent coupled with your wont to bounce topics mid-thought and refusal to stop for a breath make it almost impossible to understand you, but you seem like a good guy.

Couple to the west, I thought my dog was bad.  Your dogs see me every day and still bark at me every minute I'm outside.  Horrible whooping bark.  They have to realize soon that my being in my yard is no cause for alarm, don't they?  Even though you live right next to me, I've only laid eyes on you once.  I would come over to say hello to you and meet your dogs but your gate is locked.  

And Fishers, down the street.  Your grandfather might have built this place but you guys sold it.  That means it isn't yours to stake claim on when you feel like it.  If you can't return a smile and friendly wave from me, your bratty kids can't scream outside my bedroom window on their way to the river access you can't let them continue to use. 

Mrs. five doors down, when you yelled at me to slow the f@#$ down the other day, I was going 10 mph.  Even at 15 mph I'm pretty sure I still have the reflexes to avoid creaming one of your little yippy dogs as they dart into the street.

Dog-walker lady, when I see you on the road (which is every single time I am on the road, since you are always out walking a dog), it's okay to make eye contact with me, maybe even smile.  I haven't turned anyone to stone yet (though I've tried real hard with the one across the river).   

You won't get to read this, neighbors.  You won't get to listen to me air my grievances.  I'm a big sissy, really, and you'd know that if you cared to make small talk or be friendly in any way whatsoever.  Next time I see you, I'll wave and pretend we're friendly neighbors.  You'll probably scowl or call the sheriff.  But maybe, just maybe, you'll smile and mark the beginning of what could be a lovely and long-lasting neighborship.


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