- Leave ready-to-bake dinners in friends' refrigerators;
- Bake cookies for people, for no reason in particular;
- Deliver a birthday gift, even when it's not their birthday;
- Bring beer and pizza to the hospital after a baby is born;
- Supply baseball, basketball and concert tickets;
- Break into a house, only so that I could clean and leave flowers;
- Rake my leaves out of a neighbor's yard; and
- Not follow through with my ultimate dream, which is to replace my neighbor with someone that I don't despise.
I'm not really sure how this happened, because I don't remember ever doing anything that justified punishment to this extent. But for some reason, I ended up with a neighbor that makes me crazy. And the thing of it is, the majority of people would look at this family and the home that they inhabit and think that I was obviously insane. I mean, what's there to hate? The cars are spotless, the lawn is manicured, the shrubs are trimmed, the kids are clean, the wife is skinny and there isn't one spot of peeling paint on the siding. But the fact is, we have nothing in common with these people because we:
- Don't mow our lawn at 9:00 at night.
- Don't bounce basketballs in our driveway at 7:00 am.
- Don't wash our cars every other day.
- Don't speak to our kids using a chromatic scale voice, always including words like "dude, super cool, awesome, neat-o and FANTASTIC!"
- Don't leave voicemail messages for people that A) we're not even friends with, and B) we have no idea what their schedule is and tell them that they should water our flower pots while we're gone for the week and oh by the way, the water spigot on our house is broken so you'll have to haul water from your house and while you're at it, please watch the mail and newspaper boxes. 'Kay? Thanks, bye.
- Don't listen to shitty music.
And don't even get me started on the sports teams that they cheer for, the political party that they contribute to, the religion that they bow down to every Sunday or the choices they've made when it comes to who's going to raise their children. I mean, it's not like I'm saying my way is the only way or even a slightly more superior way, it's that I'm saying their way sucks donkey ass.
Needless to say, I don't bake cookies for these people.
In our neighborhood, there aren't very many trees and any trees found in yards are not naturally existing, aka they were put there by the original homeowner less than 13 years ago. Some people think that it's insane to voluntarily move into a neighborhood that isn't filled with mature trees and nature, but after growing up in a house located on a yard with 100+ mature oak trees, I was more than happy to live in a house that didn't require hours, if not days, of raking leaves every Fall. Plus, being able to run barefoot through a yard without having the bottom of your foot impaled by an acorn is an added bonus.
Now, though, the small trees that only dropped a handful of leaves 13 years ago grew into biggish trees that justified a quick once-over with a rake, and then those biggish trees went off and grew into fairly large trees that require actual raking. Like, with a real rake and a tarp and everything.
Since most people have only a handful of trees (or, in our case, one tree), it's pretty easy in the Fall to determine which leaves came from which tree. And in years past, before my car washing neighbor moved in, I would kindly rake my leaves out of the neighbor's front yard because, after all, it was my tree that dropped the leaves there. But since Dick has lived there, I haven't continued with the courtesy. Why, you ask? Well, because he started it.
A couple years ago, I watched him go out to rake an area between our yards that clearly contained nothing but leaves from his trees. The leaves extended about three feet into our yard and would have taken him about five minutes to blow back into his yard. After all, the guy's more than a little obsessed with using his leaf blower, so you'd think he'd be more than happy to be able to play with his blower for a few extra minutes. I was wrong.
I watched as he carefully raked the leaves on his side of the property line, leaving all the leaves in my yard completely untouched. Total dick head move, and definitely something that I wasn't going to forget about. Ever.
This year, despite the pinched nerves in my lower back, I went out and quietly did the raking first and -- as you can probably already guess -- left a perfect line between our yards, maybe even throwing a few extra leaves in his direction. He, of course, rushed out after I was done and, after firing up the leaf blower, lawn mower, string trimmer, lawn mower and leaf blower again, picked up the leaves in his yard too. And that's when I looked at the leaves that still remained on the trees and realized something: I fucking lost.
Our yard is on the left side of the picture, and the property line is about two feet away from the ginormous rock bed, which makes all of those trees his trees, which means that all of those leaves still remaining on the trees are his leaves. But where are all those leaves hanging? Over my yard! And if I know one thing, it's that I'm done raking for the season because all the leaves have already dropped from my tree.
I guess it's a good thing I also happen to own a leaf blower. In fact, I think I'll make sure it gets used this week, possibly while the neighbor kids are in daycare because both parents are workaholics. I just hope they'll be able to focus on their jobs and aren't still mourning the fact that the Packers lost in overtime.
And then, after I'm done making sure that the leaves that aren't mine are out of my yard and are back where they belong, I'll make dinner and cookies for someone. Anyone want some lasagna?