Thursday, 21 July 2011
Open House Day 51 - Sylvia Shults
Of course, even though they’re used to it doesn’t mean they LIKE it. In fact, our neighbors on both sides pretty much hate us. I have no idea why, but my husband has equally odd hobbies, and I think the combination of our comings and goings, and the fact that we lead a remarkable rich and full life without the distraction of television, just cheese them off. (Personally, I think it’s actually repressed jealousy, but what do I know?) At any rate, yes, our neighbors loathe us. We’d had our suspicions for years – the neighbors to the east never, ever talk to us, and the neighbors to the west “accidentally-on-purpose” mowed down my blackberry canes one year. But one incident in particular revealed their true feelings about us.
The neighbors to the west are an older couple, with children and grandchildren in nearly-constant residence. The kids love to swim in the pool in the backyard. (Oh yes, we’re also the only house on the block that doesn’t have a pool. Yet one more thing that sets us apart.) The kids, all of them under ten years old, think it’s the most wonderful thing in the world to shriek and splash and duck each other and NONE of them have a volume control. You know the sounds kids make when they’re playing happily, right? You also know the sounds a kid makes when he has his foot caught under a lawn mower? These kids make the lawn mower kind of screams ALL THE TIME. Super annoying.
So anyway, one summer afternoon I was out in the front yard weeding the peas underneath the cherry tree. I’d been vaguely aware that there was a running battle going on next door between a couple of the kids. I wasn’t paying much attention, because that sort of thing is constant over there. But then one of the boys ran out the front door and down the sidewalk. At the end of the walk, almost to the street, he turned and faced the house, still fuming at his sister or cousin, whomever he was squabbling with. His face was red with anger, his fists were clenched, and I could tell he was wracking his brain for the most cutting, vitriolic insult he could possibly manage to sling at the victim of his fury. He opened his mouth and let fly.
I stifled a snort of laughter. Children mimic their elders, and in that moment, I knew exactly what our neighbors really thought of us. I’d bet my next royalty check that those kids had grown up hearing their grandmother complaining about “those dirty hippies next door”. So when the time came to hurl insults, that’s what leaped to the kid’s mind.
So I’m a dirty hippie. I can live with that.