i don't like my neighbors.
that's a pretty strong statement, since in the fifteen years or so i've lived here, neighbors have come and go and although i loved the first ones (ed and wendy) the rest have mostly made so little impression on me that i couldn't recognize them on the street or even in the driveway.
one or two sets of neighbors ago a woman from the NSA came to ask me questions about my neighbors for a background check because apparently one was applying for a government job that requires such things.
"good morning, " she said, flashing her badge. "how well do you know your neighbors?"
"not at all", i said. "i wouldn't recognize them if i saw them.
"can i ask you some questions anyway?"
she had a lot of questions i couldn't answer, but some i could, i guess.
how many people live there?
i don't know. probably two, but since i don't recognize them when i see them, i can't say for sure.
what cars do they drive?
i don't know. i think one is red.
any disturbances? ever heard yelling?
no. they're very quiet.
a lot of visitors?
i don't know. since i don't recognize them, it's hard to tell if they have visitors.
is there anything you know about them?
they grill a lot. and everything they cook smells good.
yes. their grill is like nine feet from my back door, so i smell whatever they're cooking.
maybe. none that i know of.
would you call them "good neighbors"?
yes. they're quiet.
it was about an hour's worth of interview. if being practically invisible to your neighbors is a good quality for security screens, the guy is a shoe-in.
i first decided i didn't like my new neighbors when one of them got a puppy. the kind of puppy that they leave alone all day and the poor thing barks and howls for about ten hours in a row and then when they get home it barks and howls and you hear a lot of yelling "NO!"
and then i decided i really didn't like the neighbors when they subsequently got a second puppy that also howled during all their hours away from home, which were ten or eleven at a stretch.
the people with the first dog moved out, but since i didn't recognize the people, i can't be sure. there was a moving truck, and then only one howling dog.
and i started noticing that the friend who seemed to have charge of coming to let the puppy out would show up about a half hour before the resident and get out quickly, as if he had been putting it off all day and i couldn't be certain (because while i spend a lot of time here at my desk, my primary purpose here is desk-y things, and not neighbor surveillance) but i think some days he didn't come at all.
and then i noticed that when the neighbor was home she would just tie the dog up to the porch. since it was winter, it was easy to see that this animal was peeing primarily on my front walk, another thing not to like.
since i had a lot of snow, i just kept piling it up to make a tall wall between my clean walk and her disaster area, but it was only partly effective. i began a program of dominance-staring the dog anytime she was on MY side of the lawn and being friendly to the dog anytime she was in her own space. that works pretty well in terms of keeping my walk clean.
but the neighbor! this dog is a lanky lab mix! those things need exercise! the dog stays inside while the neighbor works. the dog gets tied to the porch for a lot of the time the neighbor is home. IF the neighbor walks the dog at all (and that's a big "if") they only go as far as the dumpster, about 200 feet away. the dog keeps hoping they're going to play or something, but they don't.
the neighbor looks like she could use to go for a walk now and then too, and since she is often wearing army fatigues, i cannot imagine how it is that she passes her PT requirements.
she drives a red car the front fender panel of which has never been repaired.
all this has been but one level of annoyance.
lately she and someone else not permitted to smoke inside HER house are smoking outside MY window, which means i get to smell that stink from my bed.
she and her friends often hang out on their desk pontificating in what must seem to them an interesting way about how bad everyone in their jobs suck.
last friday night she and some friends treated me to a conversation they seemed to think was very clever.
"you're two shots behind us. go in and drink"
"i'm already drunk. i don't want to drink more"
"you're not drunk enough", one of them sang in a way that indicated she thought herself funny, or alluring, or something.
"if i'm not drunk, i should drive home."
"no! you're just two shots behind us. go catch up."
"i don't need to catch up."
"if you'd have drunk enough, we wouldn't behaving this conversation."
there was a lot more to this conversation. it was pretty much the same thing for about ninety minutes, except the words "pontificating" and "self-righteous" got used, and there was a side discussion of why smoking is cool.
i wouldn't have stayed to listen to the conversation, but i was in bed, trying to sleep. listening to my ipod.
i was hoping they would all look very hung over in the morning, but no. and by evening they were at it again.
i imagined how happily i would describe THEM to the NSA interviewer lady if given the opportunity
but then two nights ago (once again, in bed, listening to my ipod) i heard the happy sounds of my neighbor having sex.
you know what i learned? when i inadvertently hear sex noises from someone i like, i'm happy for them. i am even happy for strangers i happen to hear, say, in a full-up motel. it's not their fault the soundproofing is bad and they're in the reasonable range.
i have discovered that when i hear sex noises from the neighbor of whom i already so heartily disapprove, it's just icky.
and then when i hear her on her phone - and i do hear her on her phone, because apparently what she's talking about is sensitive enough that she doesn't want her housemates to eavesdrop, so she sits either just outside my bedroom window during my sleeping hours or just under my desk window while i am here- when i hear her on the phone most of her conversations have to do with the inherent unfairness of the world because school districts just aren't hiring her to fill positions.
if she brings the same level of care to her work that she does to her home life, i hope she never gets hired.