Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Neighborly Common Decency Is Dead

The other night, one of my neighbors (who seems like he might be hopped up on something given how fast he talks) came pounding on my front door at 11:30 p.m. I would have been rattled by anyone coming to the door at that hour, but his furious knocking and loud announcement of his name nearly shot me off the couch into the ceiling. In addition to telling me our tenant had left her headlights on, he proceeded to talk almost unintelligibly, at top speed, the entire way down our front stairs and back across the street to his house. And it wasn't a whisper. I'm sure the rest of the cul de sac appreciated it immensely...

This was followed by last week's incident where our lower neighbor cut the hell out of one of our orange trees without asking. I walked down to get the mail and our poor little tree had been sliced in half. Apparently it's unclear whether the planter is on our property or his, but still, you'd think he'd have the decency to at least mention it before hacking it away.

Our Santa Ynez neighbors are pretty much the polar opposite.

When we were spreading gravel in part of our front yard, one of our neighbors drove over in his tractor to help us. The other neighbor reprogrammed our sprinklers for us when he noticed they were on all day. Countless others introduced themselves to us when we were first up at the house pulling weeds on a weekend.

It makes me wonder what kind of neighbors Mr. W and I really are.

I don't go out of my way to get to know my neighbors. Not so much because I don't want to but just because I'm not quite sure how to do it. Deliver a basket of muffins? Borrow a cup of sugar? I feel like it's too late for any of that in Hollywood now. I think it'll be easier in Santa Ynez. I think Mr. W and I will have some sort of block party when we move up permanently.

We were talking on the phone last night, and because it was our 2-year anniversary, I was reminiscing about last year's caveman outfits. For some reason, I said that we should wear them one day when we're doing yardwork at the new house—just to get some additional use out of them. Of course, we died laughing, playing out the various possibilities that went with that scenario. And Mr. W said the neighbors would probably just say, "Look at them. They're from LA..."


  1. The crabby neighbor is clearly bizarre!

    My husband and I have been meaning to host a block party for the past few years. This inspires me to get it done this summer!

  2. The image of you guys doing yard work in those outfits is hilarious. I wish you would do it! Ha. I try to be neighborly since we bought the house. I wave to people and I've introduced myself to a few, not to mention the terrible renters next door who are seriously infringing on my peaceful enjoyment of my lovely home.

  3. I like to think it depends on me, but really I think I leave the "neighborly-ness" to the neighborhood. There are just some neighborhoods where it's easier; it seems fostered by everyone, even. And, if you like where you live I think you want to be a part of it more. In my last place, I was mostly annoyed by my neighbors (and the way they didn't pick up after their dogs) so I didn't want to talk to anyone. But overall I guess I've had it pretty good. You see these news stories with neighbors suing each other, throwing nails in the other's driveway and I think, man, I can deal with a weird conversation or two.

  4. I think you should get some use out of those caveman outfits; and I think wearing them to the block
    party you host would be perfect! You could play bowling with "rocks", pick fruit off the trees to eat,
    and serve some marvelous wine. Maybe we'll drop by that weekend!

  5. Bruce Springsteen said it best: There are good guys and assholes on every block in America. We've had our share of great neighbors that we struck up solid friendships with, and then we've had neighbors that called the police on us, had their lawyer send us a letter and sued us in small claims court. After that last particular experience, I wouldn't open my house up to just anyone because they live on the same street. I'm starting to believe that good fences make good neighbors. However, Mr. 11:30 At The Door has to know that's unacceptable behavior even if it was 11:30 in the morning. Maybe tell him when he's not hopped up on whatever he was using that night.

  6. We have an annual Soup party each fall--so easy and casual. As an "open house" it leaves room for everyone. Most of the neighborhood comes--although I still send a postcard invite to all, I mean....really, it's my way of saying, "Hey, we're gonna f-up the parking on the entire street with 100+ guests--you've been warned!" lol They all say the soup is worth it. :)

  7. Mandy - Please write a post if you do. I have a feeling block parties always come with good stories!

    Sizzle - I thought of you the whole time I was writing this post. Your neighbor situation is much worse than mine!

    Lesley - That's a good point. I bet if the neighbors in Santa Ynez hadn't been so nice and forthcoming, I wouldn't have gone out of my way to meet them. I'm glad it worked out the way it did, though!

    Mom - I think the neighbors would die if we invited them over for a caveman block party.

    Jeff - The scary thing is, I think Mr. 11:30 might just BE the way he is. I think he's just an oddball. All the more reason to flee and go north!

    Chantel - That sounds so fun! I would love having you as a neighbor!

  8. It sounds like your new neighbors are happy and relaxed. I think the best neighbors are helpful and friendly with healthy boundaries :)

  9. You can take the couple out of L.A., but can you take the L.A. out of the couple?


Well, whatdya think?