Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #117 - January 13, 2006
I know lots of people have problems with
their neighbors so I guess I'm lucky that I don't. My neighbor is an
affable fellow. He's somewhat younger than I am. That would be enough to
make some people dislike their neighbor. But not me. I was younger once
and I'll be older someday too, hopefully. I would prefer to be younger
but we all had our shot at it, we can't go back, and getting older beats
Anyway, I've resigned myself to the fact
that it's not his fault he's younger. And, admittedly more energetic.
Before you jump to conclusions that I'm some lazy, unenergetic,
lethargic, indolent sloth, let me set you straight. That's just an
unfounded rumor. I work about 12 to 14 hours a day. Well, not really. I
play around on the computer for 12 to 14 hours a day - that's what
people think. But, hey, it's work sometimes. Really!
I think my neighbor
builds furniture. But, I'm not really sure about his exact job
description. I don't believe the subject ever came up. He has only a
vague idea of what I do for a living and I like it that way. I wouldn't
want him walking around spreading wild rumors about me.
Anyway, a few days ago, I was out walking
and I see this strange person walking down his driveway. It was my
neighbor. Now, I say "strange" person because it's January and it's
winter and my neighbor never goes outside in winter. So, it was a
shocking site to see him outside this time of year. He was on
his way out to his mailbox when I happened by.
We stopped and talked for a few minutes.
Then, I went on my way and he went on his. I started thinking then,
though, about good neighbors. It didn't take much thought before I rated
him a "good" neighbor, although, as you'll see, there are times when he
gets on my nerves. And, I'm not so insensitive to believe it is his
fault. It's mine. I accept the blame. Sometimes, I'm not a good neighbor
although he'll never know it (I hope).
You see, my neighbor hibernates in winter. Unless some unusual event
(like work, getting the mail, etc.) compels him to venture forth in the
cold winter months he stays indoors. And, I guess, that's a good thing.
I'm outside for a little while every day. Unless we're having a
blizzard, torrential rains, or other weather-related turmoil. I walk a
lot, and most days I pass by his house unnoticed, unless he is
surreptitiously scoping me out from a window, which I doubt. Winter is a
serene time. Summer is a different story.
In the summer, my neighbor seldom goes indoors. He's a heat-tolerant
sort. He loves sweltering days and hot, muggy nights and dancing
mosquitoes and other creepy little flying things that swarm about on
He has an obsession with lawns, landscaping, and that sort of thing.
This is really unfortunate for me because I don't. But because he does,
I have to suffer all sorts of self-imposed mental cruelty. For instance,
I can be in my nice cool air conditioned house and suddenly hear the
annoying sound of the world's loudest lawn mower - his. It's not the
noise that bothers me. It's the reminder that he's out there cutting his
grass and I'm in the house doing whatever. I know he'll be out there for
hours mowing. No, his yard is not that big, he just mows it twice - in
different directions. It makes nice patterns in his lawn. Maybe next
year he'll start making crop circles in his yard. I can't wait.
Anyway, all this lawn manicuring makes my yard look bad. Very bad.
And it isn't that bad. Really. It's a normal person's lawn. Not a
compulsive-obsessive's yard. I don't cut patterns into my yard. I don't
cut my yard three times a week. I don't get down on my hands and knees
and heartlessly end the lives of innocent little dandelions - one by
one. I don't edge my sidewalks, I don't bag up my grass clippings, I
don't ponder much over what to do next. You're thinking "Slob!" right?
No, no! My yard is a typical yard. It's not the yard of a person with
I cut my yard only when it really, really needs it (never more than
once a week though - that's my rule) and I do it as quickly as possible
(and then have a nice cool drink and thank goodness I'm done). I listen
to the radio while I mow the lawn because listening to the drone of a
Briggs & Stratton for two hours just isn't my cup of tea. My neighbor,
on the other hand, cuts his grass bare-eared. He's really into this
grass cutting and lawn thing. And when he's done, he doesn't run into
the house for cool drink, he goes into his garage and comes out armed
with all sorts of weird looking implements to add the finishing touches
to his yard-art. Only darkness can stop him. If the sun didn't set, I
believe he'd be out there all night with an assortment of yard tools
that even Bob Vila would envy. He loves it.
I think the worst thing of all about my neighbor's obsession with
having the perfect lawn is that it makes me feel like a lethargic, lazy,
feckless, bum. I can be in the house working and suddenly the roar of
his lawnmower comes crashing into my ears. And I sit there irritated,
harassed almost, by my neighbor-on-a-mission and the world's nosiest
lawnmower. It makes me feel bad. I look out my window and look at my
grass and see it does need cutting (it usually always does). I am forced
by the sound of my neighbor mowing his yard to contemplate my own
shortcomings. He makes me feel lazy. He makes me feel like I should care
more about my lawn. He makes my yard look worse than it is. He makes me
feel inferior. It makes me wonder what people driving by our houses
think. I know someone is pointing and saying, "Look Henry, too bad that
guy with the nice yard has to live next to a field of weeds."
My favorite time of the summer is July. By July we usually have a
mini-drought. And, if I'm lucky, the grass turns brown and stays brown
through mid-August. Brown grass means it doesn't grow and if it doesn't
grow, I don't mow. But, my neighbor knows no drought. He is armed with
many sprinklers and hoses to supply his lawn with whatever moisture it
needs to stay a brilliant green. By the end of July our yards, one green
and one brown, are side-by-side for all to see. I still won't give in. I
like to think then, that I'm being a conservationist. And, that's my
excuse. And if anyone asks that's what I will tell them. They can think
what they want. My yard stays brown as long Mother Nature
co-operates. And she usually does by mid-July.
If it weren't for the neighbors on the other side, he might actually
embarrass me into giving up and joining his perfect-lawn crusade.
Fortunately, the neighbor's on the other side are normal and more
humane. They are not obsessed with yard patterns and eight-hour yard
manicures. When I hear their lawnmower running, I know it is time to mow
my grass. The like July too, I'm sure.
During our little mini-conversation by the mailbox the other day, my
neighbor told me that he can't wait for spring and summer. I nodded and
smiled and said yes some sunshine and warmer weather would be nice, but
I'm enjoying the winter too. He looked incredulous as if I had suddenly
sprouted broccoli from my ears. I suppose to him anyone who enjoys
winter is a candidate for a mental exam. I continued on my walk and he
hurried back into his house, mail in gloved-hands.
Though it's mid-January now, I can hear the roar of his lawnmower
taunting me as I write this. How much more time have I got before it
really happens. I realize that in about two months he'll fire up that
red machine with a smile on his face and I'll have to run to the window
to see if it's really true that winter has ended and another spring and
summer season has begun.
In the meantime, I am going to enjoy the rest of my respite and try
not to think of the distressing sound of his lawnmower. And, I know,
that we will
remain good neighbors, even in the summer when he tortures me
know he doesn't mean it. He just can't help it.
Although though it's only mid-January, I can already hear the dreaded
sound of his lawnmower in my imagination -sputtering, clattering,
roaring, whirring - I smile:
We have different interests and different lawns and that is certainly
what makes us such good neighbors.
Tell us what you think -
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