bad-neighborToday’s blog entry is about neighbors.

Not a subject for a theatre blog, you say? Well, you certainly must not have experienced the drama that is our neighbors. Well, let me specify – I am talking about our next door neighbors in the rental house to our north. Our neighbors to our south, the Wrights, are the best kind of neighbors. Friendly, social, invite you over to their backyard…go out to dinner together…stop and chat in the front yard, kind of neighbors.

It so happens that Mrs. Wright is my wife’s cousin, and they have been the best of friends for many decades – and neighbors here for 44 years! So this is a neighborly connection that works – on a host of levels.

No – this blog entry is about the stream of characters who have occupied the rented house to our north. The theatrical qualities are all there with these folks – drama, comedy, conflict, conflict resolution, everything but tragedy, I guess. We haven’t had that yet, somehow.

The reason I chose to write on this topic is this: the best neighbors we have EVER had to the north of us moved out yesterday. They were two 20 somethings – he going to college, she working, with two or three dogs, plenty of friends over and somehow, SOMEHOW, these folks made not a sound – no music sounds – no television sounds – no party sounds – no life style noises at all. This is nothing short of an aural miracle! Because, believe me we have heard any and all prior residents of that house – loud and often.

Let me give you a rundown on who has lived next door in the past: just prior to our miracle neighbors we had a family with normal, noisy kids, featuring a married couple who thought nothing of profanely arguing loudly – indoors or out – and who eventually got kicked out for not paying their rent. Add to this 3 barking dogs – the man was raising pitbulls, of course.

Before that we had a single man, kind of rough looking, who had a deluge of items in his yard, including a huge boat he never used, and who heated his home with propane because his gas was turned off. This was supplied by canisters that he never returned empty, but rather piled outside his house – on our side, of course. His biggest disturbance was that he owned a state of the art television sound system which he cranked up watching action-adventure movies late at night. He also had a barking dog, of course.

Before that we had a group of young men, college aged – who had a rock band. That’s right, a rock band lived next door and practiced 3 or 4 times a week, after dinner. (In this case, I actually had to go over to their front door in my pajamas one night and request that they stop at a decent hour – me having to get up at 5:45 am for my USPS job – which they eventually did, stopping at 9:30 pm – on the dot – instead of their usual 11:30 or 12 midnight.) These were young guys who thought nothing of pulling into their drive with the radio blaring or going outside to have “private” late night phone conversations that we could hear every word of inside our bedroom. On the upside, they did not have a barking dog.

Before that, we had a man and his two or three young kids, I forget how many. His thing was that he kept goats in the backyard and also about 4 roosters! He kind of collected unusual roosters, and of course they crowed at dawn, so there was very little chance of late sleeping, especially during the summer months. I remember one night he had an under-aged party for his oldest son. It got so noisy, so late, I went to his door to complain. He came to the door with his beer in his hand and I spied quite a few other young drinkers behind him. The party did breakup soon afterward and that night someone stole two lanterns I had in our front yard. My penalty for wanting to sleep, I suppose.

Before that, we had a very rough looking family with two boys in their young 20s in residence. There was quite a bit of car traffic in and out of the house. I figured they were dealing drugs and was proved correct one afternoon when 4 cop cars arrived and approached the house, with guns drawn.

And the earliest family that I remember was a fairly normal group of four, who started the ordeal of bad neighbors out in a comparatively gentle fashion. They had the typical barking dog nuisance, which I tolerated okay until one night when the dog barked until 1 am. I went next door to complain – the first time in this long nightmarish series – and the rather drunken couple had no idea that their dog was even outside, let alone barking his head off to get back in. The noise stopped soon after – but the theme for annoying neighbors was set into motion that very night.

Believe me, I have just outlined the highlights of these mostly year long renters from hell. Everyday and night had the possibility for troubles. It isn’t that I feel like I have to have a perfect environment – and I believe people have a right to live active and personally satisfying lives, but these people with noisy dogs, who have to have band practice, while raising livestock in their backyard, and arguing loudly in the front yard are really tough to be around.

You can now see why I am a bit distraught that our quiet neighbors moved. They were a treasure! And now we must wait to see who, of all people, moves in next door, and what their habit, hobby, lifestyle, noisemaking levels and pet-type is.

Soon the “For Rent” sign will go in the front yard. I am tempted sometimes to steal it and hide it. Certainly such a crime is justifiable.

Pray for us…