Living in a duplex, I go through neighbors like a family of cats goes through a five pound bag of litter that freshens with every step, and I have some friendly advice. If you want to make a go of it in this neighborhood, you’ll listen up and not staple this list to the hood of my car like the last guy did. If you want a reference from him, he is residing peacefully at Happy Acres Memorial Gardens. Feel free to use my name.
1. Old tents and ripped cushions in lawn furniture may be acceptably repaired with duct tape. Back windows in old Fords or open wounds on small children may not. Neither is it a substitute for nails and a willingness to locate a hammer when your mailbox has been detached from its post. A mailbox trussed to a wooden spike by thirty rounds of silver adhesive looking like a tin can with a toothache causes undue stress in an already unstable housing market.
2. John Deere makes a wide selection of lawn tractors. That six month old goat you’ve got tethered to a hubcap with three feet of heavy links like he’s the anchor man on a baby goat chain gang is not an acceptable substitute. Let’s send you out on a short leash to get the morning paper and see if you effect a change of heart.
3. Also, in the future please Just Say No to the idea of mowing the lawn clad only in your underwear. Indulge in a roomy pair of gym shorts and you’ll find yourself zipping up the neighborhood popularity poll before you know it.
4. A privacy fence is for, well, privacy. Please don’t launch your youngest child over the top of the fence like a punted football to find out what we’ve got cooking outside. We are not responsible for stray grill marks.
5. If you have a taste for loud music, please play something I know or can understand the words to. Having the tune to a rap song I don’t know stuck in my head will lead to my hanging about in your bushes trying to find out what words sound like “scratch my itch.”
6. A swimming pool is commonly used for swimming. I’m sure your new bass boat will skip over the lake like a flat stone, but trying out your new outboard motor in the above-ground will result in an appearance on Funniest Home Videos. Remember there’s nothing to impede your progress toward the slime pit across the street except that scraggly row of dandelions you call a flower garden.
7. Please don’t sneak over under cover of darkness to partake of the blueberries on my bushes. I’ll be glad to share. Just like you’ll be glad to share that mess of freshly caught, cleaned and chargrilled trout with me next summer. Also, I don’t mind if your kids climb the tree in my back yard to purloin fruit. But keep in mind the results from a morning filled with little green apples leads to an afternoon filled with personal aerobics of a stressful kind.
8. I understand if your Uncle Earl had an evening of social entertaining that leads to a hearty headache the next morning. But if any more of his “nieces” ring my doorbell at three in the morning clad in leopard-print hip boots and a leather halter top and ask to use my litter box, I’m calling Animal Control.
9. This is the South. We surpass just about everyone in the number of per capita lawn ornaments. But those plywood cutouts of Granny bending over to show her polka dot bloomers have been done to death. At least get something classy like one of those windmills that look like the roadrunner’s legs are going in a circle.
10. Close your curtains. The neighbors don’t need to know that the Jaws of Life was summoned to your home for the sole purpose of retrieving your wife from the Jacuzzi. Nor do we care how she plans to remove the dirty bathtub ring.
Attached you’ll find a request for samples from your garden for quality assurance purposes, a form absolving us of liability in cases of kitty prints found on the windshield of your Corvette, and a sterile baggie for DNA testing. Welcome to the neighborhood.