Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Neighbor Hood

Usually life’s little lessons come from something you’ve done wrong, and you’ve suffered through enough inconvenience and embarrassment that you’ll remember never to do it again. Failing to proofread the hymn titles when typing the church bulletin comes to mind. (The Herald Angels SING. Southerners tend to drop letters at the end of words, but in this instance, the “g” serves a vital purpose.)

Sometimes, though, we get a little break and can take a lesson from the book somebody else has had thrown at them. Something like a two-for-one “You’ve Suffered Enough” coupon. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn some of these lessons from careful and conscientious observance of neighbors I’ve had through the years.

One ambitious fellow saw so much of the Sheriff and his dedicated support staff that we voted black and white our neighborhood colors and put up a little sign at the entrance to the neighborhood: “Leashed dogs welcome; don’t feed wild animals or stray children. All deputies report to the second house on the left for briefing and registration and to pick up a fundraiser information packet.”

Community watch takes on a whole new meaning in my neighborhood. We don’t just look for trouble. We sell tickets and rent lawn chairs.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

1. One baby goat cannot eat an entire forest covered in kudzu. Sure, any kid will do its part for a greener America, but like the small bottles of Coke, it can only hold so much. Also, if you try to burn a field of kudzu, the resulting blaze will attract the attention of a passing bicyclist in flame-retardant latex, a herd of motorists blinded by smoke, and firefighting personnel from three different districts.

2. If you pass out in your driveway surrounded by more beer cans than Paris Hilton has miniskirts, the neighbors will notice. Eventually a representative of the group will venture over to see if you’re dead, with the pretext of helping you up. Lay there long enough and they’ll either decorate you for Christmas or shave off one of your eyebrows.

3. If you’ve made a woman mad enough to slash the tires on your truck and smash the windows into a tinkling pile of auto-glass potpourri, you don’t need to call the Sheriff. You may as well reserve a deluxe suite at the morgue, because your body will arrive there in more pieces than M*A*S*H had martinis.

I don't anticipate putting any of these interesting facts to use in my everyday life. But they do serve to make my tendency to harrass the geraniums and torture the tomato plants seem a bit less severe.


the Bag Lady said...

Has your eyebrow grown back yet? :)

liss n kids said...

Hysterical! I live next to terrific neighbors now, but quite recently my next-door neighbor was a man who, when upset about something (approx. every twelve minutes, it seemed), would take a chain saw out and start lopping the tops off of trees. I'm just glad it was my husband who was home to deal with it the day he ran out of trees in his own yard and came after ours. Crazy neighbors make great writing material! :)

Amy Mullis said...

Bag Lady--No it hasn't; and I'm also still mad at Mama for what she did to my truck.

Liss--I think I was married to that man once. I'm glad we've both moved on!