Kirby: Good defenses make good neighbors
My neighbors are great. I like all of them. I don't know if they like me but I've noticed they call the cops only when something is actually on fire. It's the best neighborhood arrangement I have ever had.
It's all based on mutual cooperation. For example, Kerri Reyes and daughters Lindsay and Jordan across the street bring me cookies. In return, I never shoot anything heavy in the direction of their house.
Jason and Shelley Cundick to the west never complain about the scorched candy in their yard. Conversely, I don't care if their murderous cat eats mice on the workbench in my garage.
Danni and Brad Thomas behind us allow me to throw my leftover garden stuff to their horses, and I don't worry about the smell of horse exhaust when it rains.
Geoff and Karly Short to the east help take care of my grandkids and in return I don't get wound up because their dogs whiz in my yard or, worse, because Geoff's the bishop.
Neighborhood peace accords like this don't come along by magic. You have to work at them. And when you get everything perfectly arranged like this, you want it to stay that way forever. You'll do whatever you can to stay on good terms.
But Shangri-la never lasts. After 10 years of no problems, the Cundicks put their house on the market last month. They swear it was nothing I did, but I've heard that before from neighbors who sold at a loss to get away from me.
For several weeks I have watched a parade of prospective buyers come and go. Any of them could end up being my new neighbors. And that's bad because I don't know anything about them, particularly their level of compromise.
What if it's someone with a serious condition meth cookers, an old lady with a heart condition, the Jesus police, tea party supporters, yard work freaks, a fire marshal, a family of cannibals or, worst of all, someone heavily involved in multilevel marketing?
Because the Cundicks won't allow me to interview potential buyers, I've tried to undermine the possibility of them getting a serious offer by taking drastic steps. None have worked.
For some reason there isn't a single place in this state that rents hyenas by the pack. And my wife has a level of shame referred to by psychoanalysts as "normal," which was the entire basis for her making me take down the "50% Discount On All Sex Toys" sign over the garage.
She also put a stop to the tire fire I planned to set, lounging around the backyard in my underwear and a load of dead carp I ordered for the driveway.
But my wife can't be here all the time. I've tried to time my cannon testing to coincide with the Cundicks' open house events. So far all I've managed to do is make an older Realtor fall down. While that was cool, it didn't slow down traffic a bit.
The closest I've managed to come to ruining a sale was last week, when a prospective buyer was checking out the yard between our homes. I was fixing the fence and decided to seize the moment.
Me: "Excuse me, sir. Did you know..."
Him: "Don't bother. They already warned me about you."
The "For Sale" sign is still in their yard, and they won't tell me if they've had any serious offers. Neighbors can be so inconsiderate.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.
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