We live in a nice neighborhood. It’s middle class, probably once considered upper middle class — but 40 years after our home was built, we’ll call it middle-middle class in a decent suburb of Dallas. It isn’t in a gated community, though in the last ten years, our neighborhood formed some kind of group — not exactly a homeowner’s association— but by people who, I suppose, wanted to figure out ways to meet other neighbors and express concerns and gossip and do whatever it is one does in these kinds of groups.
David and I got invitations, but we never joined or went to any of their meetings or events. We’re content to know just enough about our neighbors immediately surrounding us and a few more sprinkled here and there to appreciate them as neighbors without getting too friendly or knowing too much about their business or letting them know too much about our business. In our experience, when you know too much, you up the risk of becoming not-so-great neighbors.
I suppose it was our informal “association” who must have met with the city and had our neighborhood officially titled several years back. What that means is that we no longer live in “the neighborhood enclosed by four major streets,” we now live in “The Estates of…”
On our street in “The Estates of,” we live among a diverse bunch in terms of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and occupation. There are blue collar neighbors co-mingling with white collar neighbors co-mingling with retirees as well as brand new families just starting out. Over the last 40 years, the neighborhood has turned over once or twice or thrice as children have grown and moved out or people have aged and moved on or people have died. Really, the only overriding commonality I see on our street is that our neighbors appear to be a decent lot who, more or less, keep to themselves. Oh, and all of us have had our original wood-shingled roofs replaced with composite per updated city regulations banning wood shingles.
We tend to keep our yards and houses in okay shape, and I really haven’t heard of anyone complaining or getting too stressed out about any particular neighbor or home on our block. We’d make a great witness protection neighborhood — not that I’m inviting any criminal element onto our street or into our neighborhood.
I know a woman shot and killed her father about 20 years ago three streets from us. That’s gotta count for something to keep our area from being deemed too boring. I think the killing might have been an accident, though. I was never clear on that point.
We’ve also had a house or two burn down in the neighborhood. They were re-built, of course. Remember those wood shingles I mentioned earlier — now you know why we have an ordinance banning them. Yes, they’re pretty to look at, but dangerous as hell when it comes to fires! Lastly, a few homes have been burglarized over the years. Our next door neighbor was burgled by friends of his teenage daughter. The stupid kids were caught red-handed with the stolen goods.
Probably the worst thing that’s happened to us, personally, was when Lauren was home by herself one afternoon and she hadn’t locked the front door. It was during the late afternoon when some young guy just walked in without knocking or ringing the doorbell, yelling out “Hey, Susan” as he entered. Lauren poked her head around the corner and when the guy saw Lauren, he turned around and walked right back out the door, got in his car and left without saying another word. We didn’t involve the police, but it shook Lauren and all of us up pretty good. She’s lucky the guy didn’t intend harm. Lauren said she thought the guy was just lost and once he realized he wasn’t where he thought he was, he became embarrassed and left. Even so, she locks the door now. As we all do. Duh.
We (David and I and our neighbors) call the police when we see suspicious persons running through backyards or between houses or walking or slowly driving down alleys acting as though they are casing the houses. We might be right or wrong about the people who get turned in, but that’s what we do because that’s the sort of neighborhood this is. Unfortunately, that’s happened several times, but the police are good about responding quickly. We like the police in our neighborhood because they really do protect us. Also, it’s good that the people in our neighborhood look out for each other in that way.
What I miss most that has changed in our neighborhood is that the Girl Scouts no longer go door-to-door selling cookies. Most of us, however, just want to live our lives and not be bothered too much. If something exciting happens in the neighborhood now and again, we might congregate as the police or ambulance or fire truck is on the scene. Other than that, as far as I know, there aren’t block parties or neighborhood get-togethers. For the most part, as neighbors, we acknowledge each other in passing, act with respect to each other and pick up our dogs’ poop when we walk our dogs. It’s relatively quiet on our street. Low key. So, basically, we’re a boring bunch. And we like it that way.
So last week, David came up to me as I was working in my office, which is basically a windowless cubby hole just off the kitchen, and told me, “Hey, you’ll never believe this!”
“What’s that?” I asked half-listening.
“I was outside when this guy covered in tattoos approached me. Skinny guy. Never seen him around here. He’s on a weird bicycle, like it’s too small for him but he’s put in a much higher seat so he can ride it, and he tells me that he’s been riding on the damned thing for ten miles and he needs to go to the bathroom. He wants to know if he can use ours.”
“Really! So what did you say?” I asked. David’s now got my full attention.
“I told him, ‘No. I’m not going to let you use our bathroom.’ So he proceeds to tell me that no one in our neighborhood will let him use their bathroom and he’s gotta go really bad. He doesn’t know why we’re such a sorry bunch of assholes. He thought we might be friendly, but no — we’re not. So I explained that I don’t let strangers in our house. Ever. For any reason. I didn’t know him, so — sorry.”
“So then what did he do?” I asked.
“Well about that time, Tessa and Nirav from across the street were coming out of their house to go somewhere and the guy approaches them. They basically told him the same thing and then Tessa pulled out her phone and called the cops on him. Anyway, the police have two cars parked out front right now and are looking for this guy.”
“Is he even still around?”
“I’m not sure. The last time I saw him, he went onto our neighbor’s porch a few doors down — you know, the one where the attorney lives.
“Oh, you mean the one with the brick wall that encloses their entire front entrance? You can’t even see their front door from the street.”
“Yeah. That house. So tattoo guy must have figured that it’s private and a good place to go. I think he may have gone over there and taken a shit on their porch.”
“Are you serious? Surely not. Why would you even think that?” I asked.
“Well, because I was watching when he came back out. He was holding his backside like maybe he was trying to hide a poop stain or something. It was the funniest damned thing you ever saw!” David mimicked the way he saw the guy walking back out from our neighbor’s porch.
“Ew!” I said.
“Well, when you gotta go,” David said, shrugging his shoulders.
“But on our neighbor’s porch?”
“Yeah. I don’t think they’re home either because their car’s not out front. I mean, tattoo guy seemed pretty desperate,” David said. “All I know is that attorney’s going to have a helluva surprise waiting for him when they get home!”
“Oh, my God. Can you imagine coming home and finding a pile of shit on your porch? Human shit at that? In this neighborhood? That’s just rude, crude and socially unacceptable!”
“Yeah, I don’t think he cared about what was acceptable or not. I mean, can you believe this guy? I wonder what he was even doing in our neighborhood?”
“Apparently, looking for a kind soul to let him use their bathroom,” I suggested.
“Like anyone in our neighborhood’s going to let someone that looks like him, a complete stranger, into their house. Who goes up to someone they don’t know, covered in tattoos, and says, ‘Please let me in your house, I gotta take a crap?'”
“Well, a lot of people have tattoos.”
“Well, the tattoos didn’t help, but it was more than just the tattoos,” David said. “He just gave off a bad vibe like he was on drugs or wasn’t mentally stable and he smelled like he hadn’t bathed in a week or ever. Then he was badmouthing the whole neighborhood because no one would let him in. I mean if you’re gonna look like that and smell bad, you just don’t scream ‘trust me’ if you know what I mean. No one in their right mind’s going to let this guy into their home.”
“Obviously, a cautionary tale,” I replied. “I suppose if you’re going to be out and about on a bike, miles from your home, clearly your appearance and hygiene matters just in case you have an emergency situation and you’re going to want someone to welcome you into their home so you can take a crap in it. I feel sorry for him, though. Poor guy.”
“Oh, look,” David said. The police caught him. Good. They’re putting his bike in their trunk right now and he’s sitting in the back seat of one of the patrol cars. I bet he ends up stinking that car up. Hold on. I’ll be right back,” David said as he headed out the front door.
Five minutes later.
“So, what did you find out?” I asked David when he came back inside.
“So the guy didn’t take a dump on their porch like I thought. He did go in that way — and I didn’t know this, but I guess you can access the area between that house and the house next to them from their porch — and that’s where this guy took a squat — between the two houses.”
“How do you know this? Did you see it?”
“No, that’s what the cop told me when I asked him.”
“Well, at least it wasn’t on our neighbor’s porch. He should have gone in the bushes, though. Out in the open where anyone walking by can see you, in the middle of the yard like some animal? Who does that? More importantly, who cleans that up?” I asked.
“I have no idea,” David said.
“Clean up, on aisle 9, I mean, between the houses,” I said. “I wonder what size of plastic bag someone’s gonna need to scoop that poop? And I wonder if he did it in one yard or if he evenly pooped right down the property line? I mean that could cause a major dispute between neighbors about who’s cleaning what up.”
“As long as it’s not me having to clean it up, I don’t care and I don’t want to know,” David decided.
“Well, it’s a shitty job, but someone’s going to have to do it! I’m just glad this didn’t happen to us! Because, you know, this could have happened just as easily between our house and our next door neighbor — especially since you turned this guy down to his face. I mean, what a way to get back at someone. Talk about not giving a shit — or in this case, I guess, literally giving a shit! So what do you think is going to happen to him? Did the officer say he was going to jail or were they just going to take him back to his home?”
“The cop didn’t say, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t just take him home if he doesn’t live too far away. I’m sure the most he’ll get is a ticket. I mean, you think they’re really going to lock up that dumbass because he couldn’t hold it any longer?”
“Yeah, well, I hope this isn’t going to start becoming ‘a thing.’ I remember back in the fall when Karen told me about the The Mad Pooper in Colorado. The Mad Pooper was a woman jogger who kept defecating on this same person’s lawn week after week after week — she did this several times, even in front of the people who lived there — even in front of their kids! Can you imagine? She told the the homeowner that she couldn’t help herself. I don’t think she was ever caught, but I think she finally stopped after the police got involved. Then after that news story died down, there was a copycat pooper in New York.
Now we have our very own adult pooper in our neighborhood of all places! You think I should notify our neighborhood association?” I asked David.
“Naw. Have you seen the increased values of the houses selling around here in the last year? We don’t want it to become common knowledge that some nut job’s out here doing his business on our lawns. That could affect pricing in the area. Hopefully, that guy has learned his lesson and won’t be back.”
“What lesson?” I asked. “That you can’t get away with shit around here?”
“Precisely,” David said.