Love thy neighbor
As an introvert with poor social skills and lack of desire for company most of the time, I’m a bit of a hermit. I would love to live in a Walden-esque cabin, miles from civilization, but it’s really hard to get decent internet out there.
Instead, I live in a small neighborhood high up on a ridge in the small part of the upper Midwest that the glaciers missed. I live at the end of a cul-de-sac at the end of a series of turns that no one ever takes. My backyard goes into the forest that covers the drop down the side of the bluff. I have no neighbor one one side, and no windows visible to my neighbor on the other.
I do have a neighbor on the other side, though, and he’s an incorrigible idiot. We’ve reached a point where pleasantries are no longer exchanged, and I can’t imagine a better housing situation. I get the benefits of living within civilization without the need for interaction.
It’s gone even further than that, though, and developed into a cold war. I enjoy the problem solving aspect. He’s passive with his aggression, but it’s still blatant. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with appropriate, harmless retaliations. For example, he puts his political lawn signs right on the border of our lawns because he knew we strongly disagreed in that area. Simply stealing his signs wouldn’t be sporting. The solution turned out to be easy. Simply constructing a taller, wider sign reading “Don’t vote for…” with an arrow pointing down that we could position inches away on our side of the border did the trick. It was satisfying to note that his signs had been moved to the middle of his lawn within an hour1.
I could go on about the fun we’ve had ever since we gave up on being cordial. I’ll simply say that I didn’t like my neighbor at all when it was still ok to nod to each other and offer hollow, Minnesota greetings from driveway to driveway. Now that no face-to-face interaction is required, I’m quite enjoying the battle of wits.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy talking to people. I do it a lot. My nightmare (when it comes to living arrangements), though, would be to really like people I have no buffer from. When my friends and I want to hang out, we can flake. We can make lame excuses, or we can just honestly say “I’m not feeling like it.” But if that friend can just come knock on your door, everything falls apart. I love my neighbor for the moron that he is, and appreciate the buffer he provides from the world.
I’m still working on a solution to the problem with his lawnmower. Any time we have a summer get-together — which is especially fun with the deck we built this year — he gets his riding lawnmower out and begins to cut his lawn, even when his son has just done the whole lawn with the push mower. He just rides back and forth on the other side of the fence we put up last year… that’s going to take some thought. ↩