The Humorless Twit’s Neighborhood | March 2008

 

Feeling neighborly? Then drop on by http://www.thehumorlesstwit.com. We promise not to block your driveway. Or “borrow” your tools. Or let the dog bark all night. Or throw a late-night party. Or mow the lawn early on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Or…



We’ve all had the neighbor from hell, or we know someone who does. If you haven’t had one yourself, a co-worker or friend may have told you their horror stories.

In a way, I’ve been fortunate. The neighbors I’ve had in the past and those I have now are not too bad.

One neighbor in particular, from when I was growing up, I married (I wrote about her in this space shortly after she passed away, in the September and October 2006 Flamencos; you can read it online at http://www.thehumorlesstwit.com). For all of nine months. She was okay as a neighbor. No comment on her as a wife.

That was a time when I lived in a single family home (my mother’s house). Decent-sized yards and lots of space between neighbors. As the saying goes, “good fences make good neighbors.”

I lived in my mom’s house briefly as an adult, too (my job situation wasn’t too hot at the time).

We had a neighbor at the end of the block who had one of those HUGE San Lazaro (Saint Lazarus) statues in his front yard, in a little grotto he had built just for it. This would be the Saint Lazarus commonly worshipped in santeria, the one with open sores, walking on crutches, often accompanied by dogs.

These neighbors had candles, flowers, food, etc. around the statue all the time. Most of the rest of the neighborhood assumed they were into santeria. But they were good, quiet neighbors, never causing anyone any problems.

One morning, as I was getting ready for work, I heard some muted shouting then I heard muted gunshots. As I left for work a little later on, I saw a crowd gathered in the street in front of their house, several police cars and lots of yellow police tape. The road was blocked on that end of the neighborhood, and I always went to work in the other direction anyway, so I drove off.

I found out later that neighbor had shot an intruder to death. I suppose San Lazaro didn’t help keep bad folks away from him. That neighbor moved out shortly afterwards, apparently shaken by the incident.

There was a time when I lived in a small studio apartment in the “Little Gables,” on the edge of Coral Gables.
Most of the people who lived in the same building were young, early 20’s, like I was at the time. One neighbor was an artist. I found this out quite by accident.

She had laid out a HUGE canvas across the hallway. There was no way for me to get to my apartment without walking over it, which I did. Now, the canvas was partially folded, obscuring most of her painting. I could only see enough paint to assume it was a dropcloth.

She stood at the door of her apartment, watching me walk towards my apartment and she got a bit snotty with me. “Um, excuse me, but you’re walking on my painting,” she said.

Even when I have cause to be right (like I did in this case, in retrospect), I tend to be a bit of a shrinking violet when confronted in public. At the same time, though, I can be a bit of a space cadet. I meekly blurted out what was on my mind–“I thought it was a dropcloth”–not meaning to insult her. But as soon as I said it, I realized it would indeed be taken as an insult.

She didn’t say anything, simply walking back into her apartment. I could tell she tried to slam the door but the effect was lost because the canvas got in the way.

I went into my apartment and started going back and forth mentally between “you insulted her, you idiot!” (I thought she was attractive and had hopes…) and “the hallway belongs to everybody, what right does she have hogging the whole thing and besides, none of us can just fly over her painting to our doors anyway!”

I think some of the worst neighbors I’ve ever had, though, was when I lived in my condo in Hialeah. One neighbor got bent out of shape over a parking space dispute. Fortunately, she didn’t stay long.

Another neighbor–keep in mind, this is a CONDO community–had a pet rooster. You read that right, I wrote “pet rooster.” A couple of early morning crowings had most of the other people (I stayed out of it) in the complex leaving nasty grams on the association’s voice mail. Needless to say, that rooster was gone soon thereafter.

A neighbor who lived directly above me apparently had ceramic tile floors. I knew this without ever even having to set foot in her condominium.

That’s because EVERY DAY–in fact, she’d often start real early–she played “let’s rearrange the chairs!” I don’t know what her chairs were made out of, but it sounded as if though she ran a metal rake across her floor, right over my head as I tried to sleep. And when it wasn’t the metal rake, she must’ve been wearing stiletto heels while taking dancing lessons. At least that’s how it sounded to me. All morning and all evening long, the sounds I heard alternated between the loud “click-clack, click-clack, click-clack” of her shoes and the sound of metal raking ceramic tile flooring.

I didn’t know she had moved until I noticed the quiet one day. I wish I would’ve known, though. I would have held a large, loud party, with no parking, metal rakes, borrowed tools, canvases blocking hallways. And roosters crowing. LOTS and LOTS of roosters crowing…