Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Neighbourhood Watch

Love thy neighbour. Really? Are we sure about that one? It’s an awfully big commitment if we’re not even given a chance to vet them.

My poor neighbours have come under an excessive amount of scrutiny from me over the past few months. It’s hardly surprising that since unemployment beckoned I have found myself tracking the people on my street, their comings and goings, like a latter day Miss Marple. If I was actually detail orientated enough, had 20/20 vision and was capable of accurate character judgments, I would totally be solving crime by now.

As it is, all I’m left with is the Rear Window-esque tableaus that confront me. Last month I did grow a little paranoid over the Cyclist who spends a lot of time measuring out unknown liquids at midnight using a head lamp. I voiced concerns to Jim and Mick that he might be plotting terrorism. I have since amended that – I believe he is partaking in a home brewing course in his garage and has no time to do it during daylight hours because he’s so dedicated to cycling to and from his workplace.

The same apartment block houses the American Mother. I know she’s American because her accent can be heard clear as a bell whenever she screams at her child (estimated age: 10). I am unsure if the child has a hearing difficulty and American Mother is simply making her instructions clear, but it seems unlikely. Her most famous rant occurred while she helped her daughter with her homework.

American Mother: How can you not know what a synonym is? It’s easy! How can you not know? What is the synonym for a strawberry? (lengthy pause) There is none!

It remains unclear whether she really did employ a trick question as an educational tool, or whether she simply hadn’t thought her question through. When it’s said with a screaming American twang, everyone on the street has the opportunity to learn something. When American Mother’s daughter goes away for a weekend and her boyfriend comes to visit, no curtains are closed and candles are lit, everyone on the street also has the opportunity to learn a different kind of something.

American Mother’s apartment sits next to one that used to house the Manly Supporters. The Manly Supporters have moved out now – I assume that’s because they celebrated so wildly after the 2008 NRL Grand Final that no one can forget that they are Manly Supporters. Shame is a phenomenal motivator.

On the other side of our house our neighbours are the Old School Family. The Old School Family does old school things like breed (they have at least 2 children), own dogs, attempt DIY home renovations, set up lemonade stands and wave dad off to work each morning. The children scream, the dogs bark, the DIY home renovations tend to occur before 9am on a weekend (the dad was spotted astride the roof of their house at dawn on Easter Sunday, hammer in hand), and the lemonade is over-priced. It all looks very exhausting – no wonder old school families are going out of fashion.

Across the road is perhaps the most detested of neighbour types. Side-by-side sits a pair of Construction Crews. This isn’t a metaphor (or synonym) – there are 2 construction crews who dedicate their days to lounging, smoking and operating jack hammers at sporadic intervals. It’s been over 6 months, and the only people I don’t see around the 2 houses in question are the people that live there. I imagine they’re hiding. I would.

Of course, as with any street, there remains the hint (if not the existence) of the ultimate neighbour. The Pool Owner. Every now and then throughout summer I swear I heard the musical splashing sound of someone escaping the shackles of earthly sweat for the glorious, euphoric release of a crisp, well-maintained body of water. I have a dream of befriending these people, or at the very least, sending Jim over to befriend these people.

I just need to figure out where The Pool Owner lives. It’s my winter mission. Only then will the true meaning of loving thy neighbour (like the true meaning of Christmas or an accurate sample of Britney’s real voice) be discovered.

Painefull Out

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