All my neighbors are drug addicts, dealers, and crack whores.
Okay, no. But…we’re back in a house, ladies and gentlemen, as opposed to an apartment, and yes, this is how I instinctively view my neighborhood.
What’s wrong with that? Well, for starters, the fact that the neighborhood is nice, well-maintained, centralized in Downers Grove near all sorts of lovely amenities, and populated by the friendliest people we’ve lived around for quite a while. So no, obviously I don’t really think this.
But being in a house again makes me at least consider it.
Why? I don’t know. There’s no good reason. It’s totally asinine and I know it. Maybe it’s flashbacks. If you’ll all recall, quite a while back on here I told the tale of our Macomb neighbors who considered domestic violence a sport worthy of Olympian efforts, and their property, from corner to corner, was their playing field. (They’re probably all dead or in jail by now, which I guess was bound to happen, if it has indeed happened.) Maybe it’s the fact that one of our apartment buildings was broken into (Berwyn). Maybe it’s the fact that Catherine was once bullied by some bitchy pre-teens during trick-or-treating hours and we were vaguely concerned for the well-being of our house (again, Macomb).
Or, maybe it’s none of those things. Maybe it’s this: living in a house brings out every territorial instinct in a guy, good and bad, and now that we’re in our second house, I realize that it’s not coincidence.
Here’s what I mean: I don’t own this house, yet simply because others do not live on the property as with an apartment, I’m fiercely and laughably protective of it. Every car horn, I’m at the window. And if you’re an idling car parked along the curb across the street, I already have my phone in hand to call the cops on your idling ass. Either go inside or go home. But don’t idle. That makes me suspicious. It clearly means you’re staking out my garage filled with treasures. You’re after my Christmas decorations. Dishes. Unused short stories. Weed killer. Shovels and other heavy, potentially-lethal tools. Or my hedge trimmer. Don’t even think about my hedge trimmer, you shady motherfucker.
I thought this was crazy until I realized that everyone does it to some degree, and here’s the really ridiculous part: there’s a weird pleasure in it. When that car pulls away, it means I won. I smoked them out and they’re off to defile some other neighborhood with their…pizza or whatever. Catherine and I once called the cops on our Macomb neighbors four different times for partying next door, and we were furious pissed until we realized that, lying there in the dark, we could hear the cops arrive and verbally bitch-slap the Lords of Keystone. And the cops got angrier every time they came, much to our delight. It culminated in a supervised dissolution of a completely over-the-top party on a weeknight, and we were so thrilled with what we’d accomplished that we damn near didn’t want to go to bed after that, effectively rendering non-existent our reason for wanting the party to stop. I remember how my stepfather and I once sat in our TV room, cracked the blinds, and opened the windows just enough to hear our neighbor across the street being arrested for statutory rape. It was better than reality TV. It was reality on North Prairie Street, which was infinitely more interesting. I don’t want to be the old man who watches the neighborhood and forcibly maintains the peace, but on the other hand, I do have a borderline unhealthy desire to own a police radio and my ears prick up like a blind cat every time I hear neighbors chatting behind fences.
Maybe that’s what it boils down to: the fact that whatever is happening, I’m now a part of the dialogue. My status as a suburbanite has been elevated to a new level of the caste. It’s not like an apartment where I’m one of 300 people who will never see each other, cross paths, or care to do either one. Now I’m one of like, twelve. If some “Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” shit goes down with lights flashing and people get stoned to death and cars getting overturned because invisible aliens are jacking around with my Comcast, I’ll get to be one of the stone-throwing nutfucks in the mob!
And holy crap, man – are those hedge trimmers going to come in handy then.