Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sic 'Em

I don't write much about my next door neighbor C. I'm trying to be a better person.

Her kids are grown now and have moved away. They were nice enough kids when they lived here. The police came once or twice when the parents were out of town and someone down the block got worried a drunk kid was getting behind the wheel of a car. One summer the younger one had a job that required him to leave home at 6:00 a.m. every day. He had a diesel pickup. I didn't get much sleep that year.

C. has always had an obsession with her yard. She's been a stay at home mother and wife for the many years we've lived here and as far as I know has never volunteered in the schools or coached or delivered Meals On Wheels or done anything else to help anyone besides herself and her family. She has her flowers and they seem to be enough. Although her garden is nothing especially elaborate, it's pretty and she spends three or four hours a day puttering in it. Her husband is constantly mowing, fertilizing, and watering the lawn while she stands on the porch and points out things he's doing wrong.

A few years ago she complained about a maple tree in our front year. She didn't like the seeds or the fact that the roots might infringe on her yard. I didn't have strong feelings either way about the tree and it sometimes interfered with our basketball hoop so I took it down.

Like a lot of the people who live in the area, the neighbors on the other side of her, the T.'s, have kids about the age of mine. He's a hardworking blue collar guy, the mom works part time now that the kids are older, the oldest girl graduated at the top of her class and won a scholarship to study journalism, and the boys are pretty typical boys. For reasons I can't begin to guess at, C. has always vocally disliked them.

"Why does she always complain about us?" Ms. T. would ask the Lovely Bride.

"I don't know and I don't care," the Lovely Bride would answer. "Better you than us."

Now that C.'s own kids have left home she's gotten worse. Many of us hoped that as empty nesters they'd sell the house and buy a condo but I suppose that wouldn't leave her enough jobs to assign to her husband.

A while back she asked if she could have my youngest son's outgrown bicycle for her nephew. I gave it to her. Why not? In return she called the police to tell them kids were playing Wiffle ball in the street, yelled at my boys for making too much noise dribbling basketballs in the driveway, and notified the city when she thought I wasn't mowing the lawn often enough.

I do my best to ignore her. When she's in the yard I avoid eye contact and conversation. It helps my blood pressure. Many of the other neighbors must feel the same as they also avoid her when possible. My kids try to stay inside when she's around; she likes to watch them, hoping they'll give her an excuse to complain.

That's not always possible, though. C. recently trapped a mother from down the block who was on a walk with her young daughter.

"I don't know why they spent so much money on that middle school," C. said, launching into one of her favorite harangues. "It's like a palace."

Truth be told, it's a pleasant building but it's not ostentatious. With the budget cuts education has taken in this state, there are an awful lot of kids packed into its rooms. C. is just one of those people who thinks she shouldn't have to pay for education now that her own children have graduated. From public high schools and colleges, of course.

"It came in under budget and it's going to last for fifty years," the mother replied.

"It's a waste. Those middle school students don't appreciate it. They're spoiled."

The mother finally snapped. "Face it, C. You don't like kids."

"That's not true."

"Yes it is. Everyone knows it. Snag's boys won't even come outside when you're around and neither will the T. kids."

"They're noisy."

"They're kids. They're good students and polite and you're lucky they're good kids. The way you treat them, it would be awfully unpleasant for you if they weren't." With that the mother stalked away.

That seemed to shut C. up for a while. I haven't seen her much in the yard, which has been no great loss on my part. Tonight, however, I got home from work, late and tired.

"C. was complaining about Lucy this afternoon," my oldest told me when I came in the door.

"Why?"

"My brothers were playing out front and she was in the backyard and Lucy was barking because she could see them."

"For how long??"

"A few minutes."

"What did C. say?" I asked my youngest.

"She said, 'That dog is bothering the whole neighborhood and you need to bring it inside.'"

God knows it depresses home values if kids play football on a fall afternoon while their puppy watches.

"Did anyone else complain?" I asked.

"No."

Of course not. Everyone else on the block has a dog of their own.

"Did you bring Lucy inside?"

"Yes, right away."

After swearing for a while I calmed down enough to discuss this rationally with my children.

"Boys, let me explain. C. has a worm in her brain. It's eaten away all the nice parts and now she can't help the way she is. It's a disease."

"A disease?" asked my middle son skeptically. "What's it called?"

"Bitchitosis."

My youngest one giggled and my oldest smirked.

"You can't tell anyone though. If people found out she'd be very embarrassed. All you can do is feel sorry for her."

"Is it serious?"

"Unfortunately, no. It's a chronic condition."

The Lovely Bride walked in just then and asked, "What are you talking about?"

"Nothing, my precious."

She rolled her eyes and left.

I continued. "The saying 'nagging illness' was invented because people with bitchitosis nag people."

"What are we supposed to do when she yells at us?"

"Speak to her gently and quietly and politely. You wouldn't blame a leper if his leg fell off, would you?"

"I heard that," the Lovely Bride said from the other room.

"What else can we do?" asked the middle boy.

"I'm going to teach Lucy to kill," I said.

Wish me luck.


8 comments:

Jennifer said...

C. is just one of those people who thinks she shouldn't have to pay for education now that her own children have graduated.

I've never understood that line of thinking.

rotten mcdonald said...

yeah, that's the face of a killer.

Our Lucy has started the habit of chewing shoes. Want a Lucy to use as a spare? She barks a lot too.

rotten mcdonald said...

also, she apparently doesn't understand how buildings are paid for.

The building's built. Bills have been paid. Can't reduce the cost now.

Unfortunately, there's always someone like that. Here's how it goes: Subburb gets built. State subsidizes the sewer and street infrastructure, because 'tax base tax base tax base', so property taxes are relatively low. Many people move in because it's a nice new suburb, and the houses are good. Some move in because they look for the lowest property taxes. Many of these families bring kids along, or make new ones. This creates a need for more infrastructure like schools and parks and some people working for the suburb to run 'em. This brings more people to town, needing more streets and sewers and garbage pickup and power and all the other stuff you need. Gotta be paid for, so property taxes quickly reach a similar level to other municipalities in the area. People like C bitch and moan and eventually move to another low-tax proto-suburb. Then they die about the time they get it figured out.

Seriously. Get her a copy of Sim City.

fish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fish said...

What kind of monster keeps such a vicious animal as a pet??? I would call the cops on you too! Intimidating poor old defenseless ladies with a rabid, snarling beast!! Shame on you Snag!

I am dialing animal control right now! That dog must be put down and put down immediately!

Or you could send Lucy to me.

rotten mcdonald said...

I've got a Lucy I can send you, fish.

fish said...

Sorry, I have a no leaky ass policy.

Brando said...

Sick balls, Lucy!