Wednesday, February 01, 2006

These are the people in your neighbourhood

Mr. Fabulous posted about his neighbours today. It made me feel much better, I have to say. It seems his neighbours are just as distant and weird as mine.

I've lived in this house for 15 years this month. Of the 5 houses bordering it (2 on either side and the 3 across the street) only one house has had the same family in it for that time. The others have all changed hands at least 3 times with the house to my left having at least 5 owners.

Let's start with the family that has stayed the same. They're in the house across the street to my right. Husband, wife and 2 daughters, the younger of which occasionally babysat for me when my kids were younger. Let's call them the No-talk family. These people rarely speak to me. To be honest the husband never has. I am invisible to him. He never spoke to my ex either, until the day they were both out shovelling snow just after a possible merger between their two companies had been announced. He crossed the street to talk to ex and although he'd never previously spoken to either of us, knew exactly where ex worked, what he did and what he was likely to know about the merger. So clearly, although he'd never spoken TO either of us, he done plenty of talking ABOUT one of us.

Fast forward to our separation. My EAP counsellor at work is a former employee of Mrs. No-talk. Almost every time I spoke with my counsellor (which is frequently, because divorce is just that kind of fun), she mentions that Mrs. No-talk across the street has expressed sympathy for poor, little old me, now making my way through life alone and how she hopes I'm doing okay. She hopes I'm doing okay? Is this the same woman who completely ignores me each morning when we're getting into our cars to go to work? The same woman who has never bothered to say, "Hi, how's it going?" Married to the same man who clears his driveway with his snowblower while I shovel mine by hand, even during the two winters in a row in which we had an accumulated snowfall of 20 plus FEET of snow and never once helped me? Clearly, she also prefers talking ABOUT me to talking TO me.

Next door to them and directly across the street from me, we've had 3 families. The first had money to burn (hubby was a lawyer, wife had a rich daddy) but tiny black hearts and left my 5-year old and I in the driveway with a dead battery while they drove away with their daughter to the dance school Christmas party we were attempting to attend. It was an incredibly cold day, neither of our cars would start and I'd offered to give them a ride if my car started first. Hubby walked out of their house, boosted their car from the neighbour's, went back inside and wife drove off with daughter, leaving me to explain to our daughter why they would do that after she'd heard me offer to help them.

The next couple were a rather hapless young lawyer and his friendly wife and two very young children. One night about 10:30 p.m., I heard a car door slam outside my driveway, followed by two rather loud, drunken voices. Two men staggered down the street and around the corner and I thought, "That's that." Until they returned, banged on the door of Hapless Lawyer's house until he answered and then proceeded to drink (I suspect) in his van, playing music at top volume in his van in the driveway. At one point, one of his charming visitors was dancing on the roof of the van, hooting loudly. They moved not longer after that, to be replaced by...

Strange Man and No-speaking Woman. Again with the invisibility. The only time he has spoken to me was to complain about the service in the local doughnut shop and to offer my dog a bone from a pork roast, which I declined because my dog doesn't need the extra calories, thanks. The only time she has spoken was once when she was walking her dog while I was shovelling and I spoke first.
Next to them and to my left, we've again had 3 families. I think. There was a confusing period during which the house was for sale for a protracted period of time and I think someone may have been living there, but I'm not sure.

Family number one had Katherine the Child from Hell. Pure evil that child was. Amused herself by doing fun things like taking my clothespin basket and throwing all the clothespins up into my windows and spitting a mouthful of milk into the rabbit's water dish (cow's milk will make rabbits very sick and this had been explained to her). She was the kind of kid that makes you want to count the silverware after she's visited.

The next crew I liked well enough, they had daughters around the same ages as mine, we were each other's back-up babysitters, and the mom and I actually got rather friendly, but apparently they never, ever said 'no' to their kids, nor did they ever clean up. Which made it a little awkward when the kids played here. But I liked them just the same. Of course, they divorced, she and the kids left the country and he married a successful local entertainer and has now passed out of my lowly circle of non-celebrities. Then came the murky period when people may have been living there or not and now we have the Unknowns. There are always at least 3 vehicles parked in the driveway and boats and snowmobiles seem to come and go but I couldn't pick the people out of a police line-up if my life depended on it.

The house directly to my left must have a revolving door on the front of it. I think we're on family number five, but I'm not sure. I am the only house on my block, with the houses on either side facing streets perpendicular to mine. Because of this arrangement, I don't see much of the neighbours on either side. There have been springs when I've been sure the couple in that backyard is not the same one who mowed the lawn last fall, but since they never speak, I'm not sure. Currently, there is a mom and her teenaged daughter there. She actually spoke to me last summer. I almost fell off the deck.

To my right we have the same revolving door policy. The house used to be a rental and it showed. The first people had a Beagle who used to poop in our backyard. Very popular when you have a toddler who thinks everything she finds on the ground deserves close inspection.

The next was a single mom with two rather rowdy boys. Don't remember much about them except they thought it was great fun to taunt my two girls.

They were followed by the Screaming family. She had a penchant for staying out all night with "the girls." This would be followed by him yelling at her for what seemed like hours and that man could yell for Britain. My favourite fights were the ones that would occur at 3:00 a.m. and wake me from a dead sleep. From NEXT DOOR. They had two young boys who would emerge into the back yard (right next to my bedroom window) around 7:00 a.m. each weekend morning and shriek in those high-pitched shrill little boy voices that could shattering glass for an hour or two. The mom looked like a hooker and the dad was really creepy and I think it was him I caught peeking into my windows one winter night.

They were replaced by an older couple who completely remodelled the house and did the yard up like... well... like an explosion at a garden centre. They were in the house 3 years and every summer they added more furniture, lights, and much to my annoyance, fountains. The one in the far corner was okay, it kind of sounded like a trickling brook and I could barely hear it, even with my bedroom window open. But one summer night, I awoke, heard what sounded like my bathtub running and made a mad dash, half asleep for the bathroom, thinking one of the
kids had left the tub running, visions of flooded house dancing through my head. No. It was just the new fountain they'd installed right next to the fence between our properties about... oh 5 feet from my bedroom window. For the next two summers, I could only open my bedroom window on windy nights because I just couldn't sleep with what sounded like a running bathtub right outside my window.

They've been replaced (and took their dratted fountain with them!) by another family with two young boys with the usual shrieking voices. During the summer, they had a trampoline in the backyard. Placed, coincidentally, right over the spot that had housed the annoying fountain. There must be something about that spot. Evil spirits.

I know this lack of contact with my neighbours is partly my fault. Because the houses seem to change hands so often, I've lost interest in getting to know anyone. They won't be there long. So I just keep to myself and speak when spoken to. Occasionally, I'll speak just to freak them out, but other than that, I just go about my business.

But from reading Mr. Fabulous' post, it's the same in his neighbourhood. Maybe, as he said, it's the way things are today. Or maybe it's just me.


Anonymous TC said...

Whooargh! I just stay the hell away from my neighbours, although they seem pretty normal...well, apart from the 60 year old guy next door who insists on gardening in a thong!

That can be pretty disconcerting if you've just had lunch! And I hate to think what might happen if his branch shredder goes haywire...

February 1, 2006 at 6:13 a.m.  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

Wow! Dawn, your story makes me glad I live where I do. At least, except for the odd piece of trash blowing over from the neighbor's yard, I haven't had to live with the trials and tribulations that you have. Gosh!

Plus, we get good service from OUR donut shop. :)

February 1, 2006 at 6:48 a.m.  
Blogger Ginnie said...

I read every word of this, Dawn! Not that my neigborhood is anything like this (we live in the woods and rarely see our neighbors but when we do, we yak up a storm). But I love the way you write. Are you sure you're not a journalist?!

Anyway, I see you all around everywhere but have never checked out your blog. Forthwith you are now added as a link on my sidebar :)

February 1, 2006 at 7:38 a.m.  
Blogger Gary J. Wood said...

Me, I've never lived anywhere for more than 7 years. I've been in the condo for 6, and I wouldn't recognize my neighbours if I met them on the elevator: "You're getting off at 5? Me too!" But that's life in a Toronto high-rise.

On the other hand, LL has a couple of neighbours from hell. The illegal daycare, the people that don't understand that dogs can't clean up their own exrement. And the parents who drop their kids off at the school across the road, who are illiterate when it comes to understanding traffic signs.

Hopefully our new neighbours will be a better class of folk.

February 1, 2006 at 8:17 a.m.  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

I live in a low class neighbourhood... YEP. Where 1 family out of 5 works... And that's me... People all around are very talkative. Too much! Everybody is spying on everybody. They have time, they don't work. I will not tell ya about my own neighbourgs. You would ROTFLYAO! I guess it's like that when you live DOWNTOWN in Quebec City. I found you stories very very funny! A nice exploration of the Human Beings. YEP!

February 1, 2006 at 12:34 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

tc - Old guy gardening in a thong...PINS IN MY EYES!

mr. f - Of course, these were the highlights from 15 years. Most of the time we just stay out of each other's hair. We get good service from our doughnut shop as well. Strange Guy just takes things way too seriously. Getting cream instead of milk isn't a hanging offence in my world.

ginnie - Thanks for the compliment! Not a journalist, though. I just took a quick trip through your blog and I see I have some enjoyable time to spend reading and looking at your photos.

gary - I've beaten my own record for longest time at one address. The previous record was 9 years. My ex had travellin' feet... I like being settled in, even with the funny neighbours. Good luck in the new house!

mp - Oh gosh! Nothing worse than people with too much time on their hands! That give them way too much scope to think about you! Come to think of it, the No-talks are both retired now... they must be talking up a storm! If you can do it without getting into trouble (do your neighbours know you blog?) You should post!

February 1, 2006 at 1:11 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Mr. Badger though... :-(

February 2, 2006 at 9:26 a.m.  
Blogger Anna said...

And I thought Canucks were friendly, (judging by you and R'pus)!

February 2, 2006 at 11:52 a.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

gw - Oddly, no Mr. Badger. But if you don't like my neighbours, wait 5 minutes, they'll change...

anna - Mostly we are. Especially to strangers. But we're just as weird with each other as everyone else.

February 2, 2006 at 11:31 p.m.  

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