I like to think that I can get along with just about anybody. I’m pretty easygoing; I could probably sit down and have a beer with the most vile right-winger and have a friendly conversation–or with someone of any religious or political pursuasion that allowed them to sit down to a mildly alchoholic beverage with a stranger.
But my new neighbors are doing their best to piss me off. Or, rather, they and their parents are. And I don’t know how long I can remain neighborly Sean if they keep it up.
The whole woeful tale begins earlier this summer, when our former neighbor Anna put her house on the market. Anna was the ultimate good neighbor–we gave each other house keys, she babysat Z. and watched our house when we went on vacation, and we did the same for her. But then she met a guy, and they got engaged, and her roommate finished grad school and moved to Chicago. So she decided to sell her house and move in with her betrothed.
The winning bidders on her house, and our new neighbors, are two brothers from Lutherville. One is a law student, and the other is a manager at a local watering hole; their parents financed the purchase. I’ve only met the law student, and he seems nice enough. But.
Our introduction to the whole family, aside from brief talks with the parents during their house inspection, was waking up to find a moving truck parked on our front lawn. Apparently, the father decided that it was better to shoot first and apologize later, so he backed up right across our other neigbor’s and our lawn to get as close to the front porch of his new acquisition as possible without creasing the grass of its yard. The law student and the mother both apologized for the father’s reckless behavior, and promised to fix any damage; the mother went out and raked our yard after the was gone. No harm, no foul, right?
A month later, and nobody next door has cut the grass. It’s fucking three feet high in places. I see the father in the back yard (which is not that tall, because the brothers apparently have a lot of house guests, and the back yard is always filled with cars), and he apologizes–“I’m embarrassed about the yard; I’m picking up a trimmer for them tomorrow.” I pointed out that I had one, and I would happily lend it to them–and in fact, I had two able-bodied sons who would do the work for them if properly reimbursed. He said he would mention that to them.
Still, the grass was so high it could be hiding vermin. So J., my younger son, took it upon himself to assault their lawn with our manual push mower. His brother K. and I helped him finish it off, and Jonah left a note for the neighbors offering full-time front-and-back lawn service for $10 a week.
We haven’t heard a peep from next door.
This morning, I was pulling out to take K. to soccer practice at Poly, and a roofing truck came cruising into the alley, blocking my exit. They’re going to be here all day, blocking driveway access for everybody on our block. Again, there was no warning from next door; in fact, aside from the cigarrette smoke blowing through my air conditioner when they take front-porch smoke breaks and the daily changing collection of cars covering their back yard, I have no evidence that anyone actually even lives there.
Am I asking too much? Obviously, there’s a difference between two young women living next door and two guys in their mid-twenties, so I had lower expectations, I thought. But when you’re in a line of rowhouses, you’d figure the close quarters would infer some responsibility, right?