One of these days
It’s not going to annoy the shit out of me anymore. Today is not that day. As the saying goes, tomorrow’s not looking great either.
We’re still in July, right? Damn, this has been a long month, even though it hasn’t been a full month since our neighbors started doing…whatever they’re doing. They come outside in the late afternoon or early evening with their folding chairs (the kind you see everyone sitting in at soccer games), and they park their chairs along with their butts on the sidewalk for at least an hour, maybe more, right in front of our house. They don’t have a front lawn, opting for a circle driveway instead. There are flower beds and bushes in front of their driveway. So they sit on the sidewalk which is in front of their flower beds, which faces our home. They sit right in front of our large, front windows in front of our house too.
These are the only windows on our home where we don’t have some kind of covering because I enjoy the sunlight streaming in. David assures me this isn’t the case, but I feel like if I can see them outside, they can see everything going on inside. And it’s not like we’re doing anything inside that is wrong or anything…but I imagine this is what it feels like to be a lion trapped in a cage at the zoo. I don’t like that feeling at all.
The first time I became aware that our neighbors were doing this was when Ryan and I went outdoors the last week of June to de-vine the front of our house. Last February, we had a solid week of subfreezing temperatures. That cold snap damned near knocked out the entire power grid in Texas. Closer to home — okay, at home — we lost a couple of shrubs, and also the Asian Jasmine vines and the Boston Ivy that had managed to crawl their way up our two-story brick house. The Asian Jasmine was never supposed to do that in the first place, but it did and it was pretty and so we didn’t encourage it but neither did we discourage it.
But then the freeze killed both the Asian Jasmine and the Boston Ivy. We gave them ample chance to come back to life, but they didn’t. So I got tired of looking at dead vines attached to our front façade when everything else had greened up.
The Great Clean Up
So on a late June afternoon when it wasn’t deathly hot outside, Ryan and I took about 45 minutes (David eventually joined us) and we started yanking down vines. Then we used various implements of destruction to scrape the vines’ sucker-like attachments off the walls of our home — all while giving our neighbors across the street a front-row view to our Three Stooges-like antics. One of us (Ry) got hit in the head with one of the rakes. There was also an incident with the tall ladder (pinched finger, swear words, David). Lastly, I know I called the stubborn vines a few names that might have rhymed with grass moles and buns of stitches.
We were a little surprised to see our neighbors sitting across from us when we first came outside, but we did a quick wave to acknowledge their presence. We weren’t there to chitchat. They didn’t wave us to come over nor did they come to our yard. We, in turn, didn’t feel the need to invite them over or go over to them. Ry and I were there to do yardwork and cleanup.
I’m sure the neighbors were grateful we were out there, too, because they have to see our property every time they walk out their front door. I’m sure they would agree that our cleaned up property is a sure sight better than when it was an eyesore of dead shrubbery, leaves and vines. Unless you’re one of those creative-types that appreciates Mother Nature and the Grim Reaper working in tandem to give a house a more overgrown, downtrodden, eerie appearance, you can understand why I felt our entire street were at their windows (behind their curtains) cheering Ry and me on. Well, except for the children who live a few doors down. I think they were hoping we would leave our house alone until it became hardcore, haunted house perfection, preferably through Halloween. Sorry, kiddos.
Dogs on Duty
So the front of our house is…better.
But then the next day, Buddy and Iggy started barking their heads off at the front window and were not leaving when, presumably, whoever was walking down the sidewalk should have clearly moved on. The dogs go crazy whenever people walking along the sidewalk venture close to our house. Then the people are out of eyesight and earshot and the dogs settle down. This happens too many times to count every. single. day. I’ve learned to tune most of their barking out. Now and again, there’s a different quality to the madness that warrants my going to see what’s happening.
So after several minutes of ensuing insanity by the dogs without let up, I was like, what the hell is going on? Well, our neighbors had set up shop, again, and were sitting in front of our house (on their side of the street.) Just sitting. As if our house were a giant movie screen and they were there to check out the latest feature film.
WHAT THE FUCK, NEIGHBORS?
I mentioned it to David who joined me at the window when he too heard the dogs. “What’s up with John and Gracie?”
David said, “Hell if I know. Why don’t you go ask them?”
Me: “I’m not going to ask them.”
David: “Well, you’re the one who wants to know.”
Me: “Not really. I just can’t imagine going through this with the dogs every day. Can you?”
David: “No. I really can’t.”
I walked away from our window after moving the dogs along. And so this became a thing every day with the neighbors and our dogs and then my making the dogs move away from the windows. About a week later, David told me he was outside and saw John sitting — by himself this time. They got to talking. According to David, our neighbors have a new dog and John and Gracie discovered their dog is very strong and too much to handle, so they can’t walk it. Instead, they’re now sitting with it out front.
Me: “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. That’s why you have a back yard. For your dogs to go wild in. Why don’t they sit in their back yard? And where’s the dog? I didn’t notice a dog. Is it invisible?”
David: “I saw the dog. Not much to see, though. It’s about the size of Buddy. White. Fluffy. Doesn’t really do much but sit there. I don’t know about their back yard. Maybe they don’t have one. Don’t they have a swimming pool?”
Me: “They don’t. I was over there a few years ago. They wanted to show me the landscaping they’d done. I mean it’s nice enough, nothing to really brag about though. Their back yard’s about the size of ours. No pool. So they plan on sitting in front of our house every freaking day from now on?”
David: “Why does that bother you so much?”
Me: “Because it feels like they’re staring at us. I hate being stared at.”
David: “But that’s not what they’re doing.” David looked out the window. “Okay, well, maybe it does look like that. Why don’t you go and tell them that it bothers you?”
Me: “Because —
- They clearly don’t give a shit what we think or they wouldn’t be doing it in the first place.
- What they’re doing isn’t illegal so I can’t force them to stop.
- I’m not interested in getting into an argument or creating problems with any of our neighbors.
- I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of knowing that they’re bothering me.
- And you realize these are the neighborhood gossips, right? They have the dirt on everyone. So when I look out and they’re talking with other neighbors and they’re all looking at our house while they’re talking, it’s just…unnerving. It makes me wonder what they’re saying and if it’s about us. I don’t care if they’re talking about us behind our backs, but in front of us? That’s just rude and tacky. But again, I’m not giving them the satisfaction of thinking that I care or that I even know they’re out there on a daily basis.”
David: “Well, there’s nothing you can do about it unless you want to put some kind of window treatment up.”
Me: “I know that and no, that’s not happening.”
David: “Well, stop bitching about it then. There’s nothing I can do about it!”
David: “Good talk,” he said walking out of the room.
Me: “Grass mole,” I said walking in a different direction.
David yelling: “DID YOU JUST CALL ME AN ASSHOLE?”
Me yelling back: “NO, I DIDN’T. YOU’RE HEARING THINGS AGAIN!”
Time is on my side
Like I said, one of these days…well, one of these days it’s going to be too hot for John and Gracie to sit out there. I hope they discover this on the day after they’ve burnt to a crisp.
But until then, I’m hoping that one of these days it won’t bother me whether they’re there or not. And maybe not today, but one of these days maybe I’ll even grab one of our chairs and go outside with a few bottles of water and sit with them (not on a hot day, though.) I’ll be neighborly and catch up on the gossip on our street and the rest of the neighborhood. I guarantee you, these people know EVERYTHING. Maybe I’ll even take Buddy with me and he can socialize with their dog. But that’s not today. Today, I’m just going to write about them.
SO TAKE THAT, JOHN AND GRACIE! *raising my clenched fist toward their house*
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