Wednesday, April 25, 2007

neighborhood watch

Chalk up another rite of passage for me -- I bought a lawn mower yesterday. I had no choice really. The back yard verged on the brink of becoming a safe harbor for disenchanted and delinquent rats. The Jackal is a big fan of animals, but I don't think he's quite ready to share his yard with filthy rodents. For that matter, he's not really into sharing anything these days. In fact, his whole concept of sharing is not sharing. "No share!" has become a mantra of sorts, which is irritating when you hear it the 87th time in a given day. Come to think of it, maybe I will let the rats make a nest out of the back yard. The pure hilarity of Jack screaming "No share!" to a parade of rats might be too good to pass up. Regardless of what goes down in the back yard -- rats or no rats -- it's just so great to be outside again.

We moved to the new hood in January when all inhabitants were basically hibernating. Now that Mother Nature is back on her meds and cooperating, the neighbors are starting to air themselves out. This has produced some decent fodder for me. For one, we have come to realize that not one neighbor in our general vicinity is what you might call "eye candy." Okay, that's completely vain to say, but I'm not here to offer smoke and mirrors. I do enough of that at work. This is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. I should add that my wife couldn't care less about whether any of the neighbors are nice on the eyes. I guess I'm more into such aesthetics. At any rate, the neighbors have revealed themselves, for better or worse.

For the sake of accuracy, we've only met two sets of neighbors so far -- one on each side of our house. It has not taken long for me to ascertain that these neighbors don't care for each other. I find it remarkable when people give negative preconceived notions about others before an objective party (me, in this case) has the chance to draw his own conclusions. For example, one day I was in the back yard checking out work being done on a new privacy fence and John, a sort of family guy neighbor, stopped by. One piece of the conversation that stands out went like this:

John: So have you met Allen?

Me: No. Who is Allen?

John: He's the creep that lives on the other side of you.

Me: Great, can't wait to meet him.

John: Yeah, he's a piece of work.

I met Allen last weekend when we were grilling on the back deck. Again, the warm weather brought him out to make shit dance on his own grill. Obviously you don't get the full picture during a first conversation, but I wasn't picking up any "creep" or "piece of work" vibes. I will say that John is a very nice guy and that I have more in common with him - working wife, kids, etc. Allen is an architectural photographer who seems to travel 80% of the time. I have little in common with that.

At the end of the day though, these neighbor dynamics don't concern me too much. It's too early to draw lines in the sand or go out of my way to be friends. During both interfaces, the idea of gathering for drinks was broached, so I expect to gather more information on each party in the next month or so. And now that Old Man Winter has taken a hike, we'll run into them here and there. In the meantime, as long as they report shady character sightings in the neighborhood and ignore the fact that we still have not purchased shades for our bedroom windows, they are alright by me.

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