My landlord – we’ll call him Amos Carcetti – has a feud brewing with his neighbor. I found this out the first time I met Mr. Carcetti. As Amos showed me around the house, he warned me about Tim East (I’m not using real names here) across the street, describing him as the “one bad egg” in the neighborhood. He didn’t stop there though, also telling me that East has “yappy dogs” that “poop on my lawn” and that he “treats the dogs better than his wife; he screams at his wife.” The coup de grace? Last winter Tim East had the audacity to place his inflatable boat in Amos’ garage without asking permission of Amos or the tenant. “He just came over one day and put the boat in the garage.” New England accents are often so terse that even “pahking the cayh” can sound like some sort of confrontation, but I could definitely sense very real rancor in Amos’ rant.
Who was this Tim East? I found out yesterday, as he approached me while I mowed the lawn. With his leashless dogs escorting him, he proceed to introduce himself politely. He seemed like a fairly friendly old man, but before the conversation got far, he told me that he has an inflatable boat that he has been wintering in my landlord’s garage “for the last 5 years”. I had been warned about this, but I kept the peace. I explained that the boat might not fit in the garage, due to the large cargo van I had parked in the second spot. East persisted, explaining that the boat barely takes up any room and that he doesn’t want to go through the hassle of deflating the thing and keeping it in his garage. Very crafty, Tim East. I simply said I would have to ask Mr. Carcetti. He said if I needed anything to let him know, and departed.
I left my rent check at Amos’ place of business, as well as a message that I had met our dear friend Mr. East. I got a text from Amos the next day, asking me to call and tell him about the “circumstances” under which East had asked me for storage privileges. I called and told him the story essentially as it appears above. I also told him that I found dog poop on the lawn while I was mowing. In exchange, I got to hear another mini-rant.
There’s something so funny and strange about seeing people who are usually equanimous and kind engage in bitterness. A friend I went to college with was friendly and enthusiastic 99% of the time, but when he began to rant about something or someone that truly bothered him, his voice would drop, become sharp and staccato, and the sky would darken a bit. Amos went into a similar tirade, saying that East is “crazy like a fox” and “needs to be put in his place”. Apparently the 5 years of storage was a lie, and according to Amos, “he had ulterior motive” and “he didn’t really want to greet you”.
I asked if I might suffer reprisals. I am after all practicing the drums daily (they aren’t loud from across the street where East lives, but could very well be audible) and have aspirations of bringing music artists into my little project studio to build my sound engineering skills. If I am on notice because of some long-brewing neighborly feud, a few frivolous noise complaints could sink a lot of my plans.
Amos assured me that the boat and dog issues predated me, and that my name would not be used when he called Mr. East (yipes!) to refuse him garage access. I trust Mr. Carcetti to stand up for me if anything goes down, but having an old neighbor who dislikes me by association is not something I wanted to start with. I wanted a sexy 25-year old girl neighbor who loves heavy metal and plays gu-
So in conclusion, the small mention of neighbor drama I made in my earlier post was perhaps too brief. It’s not too difficult to deal with annoying neighbors (or roommates!) in the city because you know that in a year or less one or both of you will have probably moved. It’s also just more of a free-for-all there, with all the youth and cultural diversity. However, out here men are building castles, monuments to lives lived in the right way, fortresses for precious families. Small infractions become international incidents. I am waiting to wake up one day and find a demilitarized zone, complete with gun-turrets, landmines and barbed wire, between my yard and Tim East’s.
Concepts of neighborhood are radically different out here. In Chicago, the neighborhoods are cultural scenes, vibrant arcadiums with their own subtle personalities, histories and secrets. Out here in pseudo-suburb land, neighborhoods are where people retire for privacy and dominion. I’m a fairly private person, but this will take some getting used to, even for a short stay.
But who knows, maybe the beef will get squashed and Mr. East and I will become cordial neighbors. Maybe he plays the mandolin and will come over and record an EP. I’ll just have to wait and find out.