Friday, May 13, 2005

The Lawn Nazi

I am beginning to wonder what sort of opinion my new neighbors have formed of me. I fear they view me as a force to be reckoned with. Although there has been a welcome detente ever since the soundproofing was installed, I have been unable to ignore their lawn, which as of this afternoon was an estimated 10 inches tall and sprouting a host of noxious weeds.

I know it is unforgiveably bourgeois of me to be monitoring the state of my neighbors’ lawn—and I hate myself for it. When did I become this sort of nosy-parker, curtain-twitcher type of person? Answer: When I became a property owner. Suddenly I’m thinking about how the unkempt lawn reflects on our house, possibly bringing the value down by $10,000 or more. And it’s not like we’re even remotely contemplating selling; it’s just me being a complete high-hat.

Anyway, around 10:30 PM, B and I returned home from a party to hear an unfamiliar whining noise emanating from the neighbors' house. It was pitch dark but we could just make out the doughy shape of the shy and retiring drummer pushing an electric lawnmower back and forth like a vacuum cleaner over the lengthy and recalcitrant grass. At 10:30 at night!

“Hey ho!” I cried (OK--I just said “hey,” but I’ve been talking to theatre folk all night and some of their flamboyance has rubbed off on me). “You’re mowing in the dark?” The drummer wearily turned off the mower and explained that they had an old push mower but that the blades were really dull and that the only time they were able to borrow the electric mower was the middle of the night. I commiserated about the dull blades of the push mower. (Been there.) Then I helpfully suggested that he might want to hire the Tulip Decapitator to mow his lawn. (More extremely bourgy behavior on my part.) Had I not been full of home brew and wine, I probably would have realized that this wasn’t the most tactful suggestion.

“Well, we’re really poor,” he said resignedly. OK. Now I feel bad and a little guilty. Why? Not because I’m “richer” than the neighbors are. After all, they do own a more expensive house than we do, but because the real reason I suggested the Tulip Decapitator was to guarantee that their lawn would be regularly and professionally maintained. Shame on me. A few years ago--before I ever owned property--I rejoiced whenever I saw an unruly, overgrown lawn. To me that meant the homeowners were mavericks and iconoclasts (not lazy bastards who didn’t give a fig about their neighbors’ property values). Everything Karl Marx ever said was true.

The drummer went on to mention that on Saturday they are going to have a barbecue, hastening to add that there weren’t going to be any bands or anything and that the only reason they were having the party was that it was his girlfriend's birthday, i.e., a special occasion--not just a random party for no good reason. At first, I actually thought he was inviting us to the party, which just goes to show that I probably have a pretty skewed idea of my rank in the universe. But, in fact, he was just giving us fair warning. So, despite the easing of our relationship, I feel certain that I am still viewed as a capricious goddess who must be appeased. Maybe not a goddess, but some sort of incomprehensible, less-than-desirable entity that may turn on them at any moment.

Something for me to reflect upon.

On a less self-loathing note, I met the delightful Shelley of the Menagerie this afternoon, fresh from her final final ever (!) of Law School. Congrats, Shelley! She stopped by to adopt three rose campions that recently became homeless when I replaced them with some blue marguerites more appropriate to my color scheme. I’m sure the rose campions will enjoy their new home in Shelley's garden!


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