We’re all familiar with the saying, “You can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your neighbors,” and there’s a lot of truth in that. Good fences might make good neighbors, but if they decide to burn down your fence, you might be featured on one of my favorite shows, “Fear Thy Neighbor.”
We’ll get to that later, but first a little personal history. When one lives in a townhouse for nigh upon 40 years, one sees a plethora of renters/owners come and go with regularity. I’ve had next-door neighbors of every race, creed and color. Well, mainly white locals, but one in particular did have a slight accent.
When I first moved into what’s now known as “The Musty Manor” townhouse in ’83, Patty and Trina, the mother/daughter lookers featured in my previous, circumcision column lived to the left of me, Walshes to the right; (“… stuck in the middle with you”). Dave and Kerry Walsh were a nice couple whose sweet little girl Gina I loved.
I drove a classic, ’69 gold metal-flake Camaro Z-28, which kinda made me the cock of the walk. Brother Jess drops me off after roofing all day and what do I see cavorting on the hood of my Z but sweet little Gina and her little pal Bryce from up the way. Mortified to see sticks in their hands, I shrieked, sending them running like cats out of a sack. The crude artwork etched into my hood rendered me livid, resulting in what darn well better have been sound spankings after I squealed.
Dana McCallister moved in after the Walshes and we became good friends. She planted a tiny sapling which many decades after she moved away had become a huge redwood that sent roots into my yard, choking out my toilet’s will to flush. For a brief time, personable Mike and Colleen Williams took up residence and related how their fearful, 4-year-old son called me “Doug Crazy Hair.”
Old Martha Skar lived for years on the other side of me and became like a second mother. In fact when I backed into her visiting son, the car of Honorable Judge Robert Skar, one evening, I’m lucky she didn’t soundly spank me as well. So many neighbors, such little space, so let’s return to “Fear Thy Neighbor.” Any of those three episodes could conceivably have turned into one of the dispute-turned-deadly murders the show reenacts. It’s happened over lesser things.
A pimple might become a festering boil over a parking dispute, a barking dog, a shed being built to close to a control-freak’s property, or even a family’s glaring security light brightly illuminating a neighbor’s home.
Should said neighbor have his opinionated dog put to sleep? Shall the neighbor cease-and-desist building a shed in which he’s well-invested? Must the lit-up neighbors make peace with the light show and playfully make animal puppets on their bedroom wall? Therein lies the rub, and if one neighbor is rubbed the wrong way, shots can ring out in a Chicago minute.
Neighbors, please … extend an olive branch before one of you gets shot in the face. Guns don’t kill people; neighbors kill people.