I’ve written about my neighborhood before, and my love for it, both before and after our infamous post-Marathon bombing lockdown. But now I want to talk a bit more about why I love my particular little piece of the city so much: my neighbors are awesome. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because we just got a real estate catalog in the mail, and every time we get one of these, I inevitably dream about moving to a bigger place with a bigger yard before I look at the prices and die of sticker shock. But in that half-second when I consider moving, I also consider how sad we’d be to leave our neighborhood, and it’s all because of the people in it.
Now, I mean this in two different ways. First, I mean it because some of the people living around me have become close friends over the past several years. We hang out together, our kids hang out together, and I’m sure if their pets wouldn’t eat my pet, our pets would hang out, too. But although that makes us very lucky and I love being around such great people, in a way, that isn’t the best part of the neighborhood. I think you could make the argument that my neighborhood gets its charm from the fact that many of my neighbors are inadvertently hilarious.
To be clear, I’m not trying to make fun of anyone here. All of the neighbors I’ve been able to get to know, I like very much. They are for the most part genuinely nice people, or at least people who mean well. It’s just that some of them, I also happen to enjoy for their great comic potential. For your reading pleasure, I’d like to share some of that potential with you, and you can judge for yourself.
- When we moved in, our neighbor across the street had his girlfriend and her teenage daughters living with him. Several times, they had the sort of fight you’d see staged on the likes of Jerry Springer, where cell phones got thrown into the middle of the street and someone would scream, “You’re ruining my life!” before storming off. Our chimney repairmen told us they quite enjoyed watching this from our roof.
- Before the house next to us was renovated, we used to have neighbors who stood on their second floor porch and grilled dinner while wearing only their underwear. Mostly it was two older men in tighty whiteys, but there was also a woman in a bra and tiny shorts. Did I mention that their porch was about level with our dining room windows? Yeah. Appetizing, right?
- One of our neighbors once told us about having all of his healthy teeth removed and false teeth screwed into his jawbones instead so he wouldn’t have to work as hard to take care of them. (Fact: you still have to take care of them.)
- I have a neighbor who’s allegedly wanted in all of the O states for traffic violations. He plans never to return to any of them.
- Apparently if one of our neighbors had had his way, our house would have been torn down and a parking lot would have been put in its place. A parking lot, in the middle of a street full of houses, with no businesses anywhere nearby.
- We have a neighbor whose opening conversational gambit is to ask you how much something of yours costs. It can be something you’re holding or really just anything in the vicinity. He tried to get our house painters to tell him how much we were paying for their work (they wouldn’t), and he once congratulated my mother for having heard of Syria (long story).
- One of my neighbors got a nasty staph infection from putting his dead father’s ashes into his memorial tattoo.
- Gardening advice in my neighborhood runs along the lines of, “Put dog pee around the perimeter of your vegetable garden to keep the rabbits out.” When that neighbor told me how he had gotten his dog to pee all around their garden, I got worried that the next step was going to be him offering me a cup of dog pee, so I backed slowly away. That same neighbor later left a cucumber sticking up out of a hole in our front lawn where some baby bunnies were nesting because he thought they looked thirsty. So, my question is, did he want those bunnies to have enough to eat or not?
- One of our neighbors has introduced herself to other new neighbors by talking to them about the proper way to put out their trash.
- Another neighbor almost got into a fist fight with the trash man and a local reporter over the new garbage collection system. Trash seems to be a hot-button issue around here.
So what do you think? Is this a higher level of hilarity than is present in most neighborhoods, or did I just live in quiet and boring places before? I’d love to hear some of your neighbor stories because other people are different and fascinating and always have the capacity to surprise you. It’s one of my favorite things about life.