Sunday, January 06, 2008

Border Dispute.

Territoriality is apparently a deep instinct in humans. After all we are animals. There's no special reasons why we should have evolved past such instincts. We certainly have a complex relationship with our "baser elements", but they remain a part of us nonetheless. What made me think about this today was an incident involving our next door neighbor. Ever since we moved into the house, the old couple next door has been extremely unpleasant toward us. My first contact with the husband involved him telling me that I would regret purchasing our home. He said that he knew everything that had ever been done to it during its history, and that we would spend extraordinary amounts updating it. I simply brushed off his comments, which turned out to be quite exaggerated.

After we had lived on our block for a few months, I learned why this crankster and his bitter wife resented our presence. It turns out that they were upset that we had not chosen to buy another property that they owned down the block. We had actually looked at the house, but it didn't appeal to us. They had gutted it completely and remodeled it in the style of a cookie-cutter suburban domicile. It was a hundred years old, and they completely removed whatever charms had lingered within. Someone would no doubt be happy to buy it eventually, but it simply wasn't for us. Indeed it was sold within six months of us moving into the neighborhood. Still the welcome wagon was withheld from us. This unhappy pair was largely responsible for oppressing the joy first-time home-buyers like us usually experience.

In the years since we moved in, there has been a series of events that have reinforced our mutual animosity. It turns out that our neighbors are the parents of the chief of police in our borough. So they have a direct line to law enforcement, and use it as a bludgeon to attain their insidious satisfactions. When the first snowfall hit, we got a $300 fine for not clearing our walk for a day. Meanwhile they consistently left their walk untreated. When we had our first party, and I was playing a drum kit in the basement- we had the cops at our door... at 8PM in the evening. The crone herself actually accused my wife of leaving a dent in the back of their minivan, despite the fact that the shape and placement of the damage indicated that it was impossible that it came from M.'s car. Ironically we later found out that neither of them have a license to drive, and that their vehicle is neither insured nor registered.

Despite their constant petty harassment, we have always tried to de-escalate the tensions. When the old bitty backed into my car while I was watching from the front porch, she inspected her minivan without throwing a glance or a word my way. I made a joke about her misdeed having caused what was actually existing damage on my right fender, but she wasn't at all amused. They aren't a very jolly pair. In fact we can hear them screaming at each other whenever they try to parallel park in front of their house. Mind you their noise travels through their closed windows, and through ours into our living room, disturbing our enjoyment of whatever movie we happen to be watching. Instead of alerting the authorities about the verbal abuse that they hurl on each other, I simply resign myself to waiting for the old bastard to pop a gasket during one of his tantrums.

All of this provides the necessary background to adequately explain why I did what I did today. I was relaxing and trying to catch up on some reading on the sofa in our front room, and I heard people having a loud conversation nearby. I figured that it would end it a matter of minutes, and tried to concentrate on my book. But the yapping went on an on. Finally I had to get up and see what the hell was happening. It was the woman from next door talking to a passerby on the sidewalk directly in front of my house. They were loudly conversing without regard for decorum or privacy, and they were doing so about eight feet from where I was laying inside. I couldn't figure out why that sour lady felt comfortable doing that. I can't imagine having a chat with a stranger on her front stoop.

I sat on a chair on the porch (about a foot and a half away from them) and smoked a cigarette. I made it a point to blow the smoke in their general direction. Predictably they failed to acknowledge me... with even a glance. But within thirty seconds they were gone. I imagine they caught my not-so-subtle message. Now why did I do that? I can only chalk it up to some atavistic and vague internal drive. Perhaps I'll paint a line on the sidewalk next. They are not my people, and I want them to keep their distance.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give me a call-- Dirty deeds done dirt cheap.

4:02 PM  

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