I have a retired neighbor who lives next door. I’ll call him Hank.
Hank is kind of an a$$hole.
See that? I hardly even disguised the word. That’s how strongly I feel about this.
The one thing I love about winter is that you don’t see your neighbors for at least four months. Then, when spring comes with its splendid silent sun, his beams full-dazzling (Walt Whitman- not me), everyone emerges from their caves, eager to get started on the lawn work.
During the warm months, Hank mows and trims his lawn at least twice a week, pulls weeds from his multiple flower gardens, shapes his lilac bushes, and waters the whole shebang. He does all of this without a shirt on.
If he’s not doing lawn work, he’s lounging in his pool, railing about right-wing conspiracies to whichever poor sucker happens to be within earshot, usually his demure wife or someone on the telephone.
His political lawn signs never match our political lawn signs, which is probably one of the reasons he doesn’t like me.
He doesn’t like me. I wave when he heads out to the mailbox; he turns his head. I tell him how beautiful his begonias look; he shrugs. I attempt small talk: “Sure is hot today!” He responds in a deadpan tone: “I like it this way.”
The house was empty a year before we moved in, and I don’t think he has adjusted to the noise. We live in a relatively quiet neighborhood, but my children are raucous. Loud. Shrieky.
And then there’s Kiah the Wonder Dog, who has three main purposes in life: to look regal at all times, to one day defeat the vacuum cleaner, and to guard her territory (the backyard) like its Israel and the rest of the world is Palestine. Apparently, according to Kiah, Hank is from Palestine, because I haven’t seen such animosity between two individuals since I watched that show Homeland last year.
Yesterday I was outside trying to attach the bike trailer to the bike, and was agitated. The twins were fighting over a basketball even though there are two basketballs, because it is the law of twins to want the same thing even if there is an identical counterpart. One twin usually wins (the same twin who came out twice as large as his own counterpart), but let me tell you what: the other does not go down quietly.
She was not going down quietly when Hank walked by. I waved my greasy hands in a friendly fashion while behind me Ella said something like, “Nooo you NOOOOOO! AHHHHHH! EEEEEEEEK! MINE!” and he kind of shook his head.
I already run inside whenever the recycling man comes around. I don’t think I have the energy to avoid Hank.
I’m determined to win him over. Even if he thinks I’m a breeder with no lawn-maintenance skills. Because, dammitt, I’m NICE and people LIKE ME and my kids are CUTE.
I may avoid him the day he opens his pool, however. I think there are about 25 baseballs in there, which he’ll probably throw angrily back over the fence while Kiah barks her most ferocious bark.
Maybe we should just move.