Garden thievery
How I rationalized eating the cookie that I'm eating after writing this blog post

I blame my parents

It all started when my parents would say, "OH, JUST IGNORE HIM!"

This in reference to my cretin of a little brother whose one pure joy in life was pushing all of my buttons, all at the same time, on a regular and maddening basis. How do you ignore such a thing, I ask you? HOW IS IT DONE? 

I'm willing to let that go, I am. After all I'M a parent now and therefore deeply appreciative of the "OH, JUST IGNORE HIM!" as a go-away-and-leave-me-alone tactic. And there were plenty of times my brother actually DID get in trouble, like the time my dad actually DID leave him on the side of the road, and that other time when they told him he couldn't live with us anymore and my mom started packing his backpack - at age six or seven. 

BUT. It was, indeed, my terrible misfortune to grow up sensitive, easily intimidated, beholden to a monstrous guilt complex with parents who were Tough, Did Not Suffer Fools, Not Afraid Of Confrontation, and valedictorians of the Eye Roll Master Class. 

If I hated the basketball team so much why didn't I just QUIT? WHO CARES?

In a gross misuse of justice did Mrs. So and So publically lecture me in the senior hallway about something I was totally allowed to do? BLOW HER OFF! WHO CARES! YOU'RE GRADUATING IN TWO WEEKS!

I hurt someone's feelings and I may die of the shame and sorrow and failure to be the perfect friend? OH FOR GOD'S SAKE, MAGGIE, SHE SOUNDED LIKE A NUTJOB ANYWAY. GOOD RIDDANCE.

So yeah. I have spent the better part of 33 years trying to ignore, quit, not care, roll my eyes, and suck it up, and GUESS WHAT. IT HASN'T WORKED.

I am still the sensitive, easily intimidated, beholden to a monstrous guilt complex creature I've always been, with my giant nose stuck in multiple personality analysis books. I write about my feelings on the internet, people, and have been doing so for YEARS. At this point I might as well throw in the Suck It Up Towel and own the fact that when my neighbor rings my doorbell with no purpose other than to chew me out about how my guest has parked in front of her blessed mailbox, I WILL FEEL LIKE WARMED OVER CRAP. FOR A LONG TIME. AND WRITE ABOUT IT ON THE INTERNET.

It's not that I feel bad that my friend (OKAY IT WAS LIZ! IT'S ALL HER FAULT!) parked in front of the mailboxes, it's that I honestly do NOT understand why my neighbor's first response is "Spew Vitriol!" rather than "Apologetically Yet Firmly Notify!" Perhaps I should walk around with a sign around my neck: GUILT TRIPS WORK BEST.

We figured out the unspoken mailbox parking rule a while back, but the absolute very first time this particular neighbor mentioned it, it was when my parents had JUST driven up and parked and we weren't even out of the cars yet and she zooms into my own garage to tell me my parents better not park there. (OR ELSE.) So yeah, this was the second time, but she was mean about it the FIRST time and today it was like I'd spent my entire two years in the neighborhood spitting on her rose garden and BY GOD she was TIRED OF TELLING ME TO STOP!

And I'm also sad that we don't have any friends on our street. The one other family with children never appears and the others are a combo of never there/retired/renting/not interested. There is one house with an older couple who is VERY sweet and kind to us, but we rarely see them. I would LOVE to have good relationships with my neighbors, but I have NO relationship with my neighbors, for the most part, and it bums me out. So I'm sensitive to that too, I guess. 

And also SHE LIVES NEXT DOOR! It's not really like I CAN ignore her! 

I should, though. Except for the two Christmastimes where she brought us delicious cookies (and who knows what instigated THAT), she's been pretty unfriendly and/or uninterested in us. And once she complained about all the pine needles when she doesn't even own the trees and I was like, "Seriously? You're mad because you live next to my tree?"

CLEARLY THIS REALLY ISN'T MY PROBLEM. And in these situations I try to make myself feel better by reminding myself of True Things. Like "at least I am not so desperately unhappy that I am compelled to stomp over to my neighbor's house and complain that someone she knows has parked in front of the mailbox without so much as a howdoyoudo." 

Should I let this sort of thing ruin my day? NO! Does it anyway? YES! Does kicking myself for being affected by someone else's crotchety mood help at all? NOOOOO. 

And after 33 years I'm beginning to suspect that The Ability To Blow It Off is simply something you're born with. My parents? EXCELLENT blow offers. Me? The opposite. And it's not my fault, it's THEIRS for not passing it down. Maybe it would just be better that, having been sniped at on my own front porch, I crawl back inside and dedicate the next several hours to couch, television, and ice cream. You know? Just ACCEPT the fact that I will feel Crappy. And then write a cathartic blog post that will make my parents roll their eyes. 

Comments

katie

You are so funny. Thanks for making me smile :) And just for the record, I have that same crotchety lady in my neighborhood too. Everyone has one.

Rachel

I just want to say that I totally understand your feelings about your street. I have the same thing - there are no families with kids my kids age and it makes me so sad. They are AROUND my street, but i literally want to be able to walk out my door, see other people out playing in their yard and either send my kids there or have them come join us and play, and i can talk to another mother. I live in a beautiful neighborhood, in a very nice house so i feel so silly feeling this way but it is the truth and my husband feels it too. We just didn't get lucky how some people do - we were just talking about it this weekend. We aren't going anywhere, so our only hope is some of the older couples will downsize and younger families will move in. my oldest is just in K so we have plenty of time to have more neighborhood friends. And, we just need to make more of an effort to actually look around and try harder. Gah - i sound like a spoiled brat, but well, it is the truth!

Oh - and we have one of those people on our street too, but I don't know who it is!! About a year after we moved in (keep in mind whoever it was most likely knew i was home alone, pregnant with a toddler) called the authorities about our dog barking. Didn't stop over and make sure everything was ok since it was out of the ordinary - no, called and had them show up in our driveway and say someone was complaining about the dog (who was going crazy again because someone was in our driveway). It was lovely...they were given our exact address which means the call definitely came from someone on our street. Hmmm...i have theories.

Hillary

Our across-the-street neighbors pulled out all their little trees because "the roots screw up the sprinklers" and try to get our next-door neighbor riled up about the leaves our trees leave on his lawn. Thankfully, Mr. Next Door is a rational human being -- albeit one who believes Florida weather means he never has to button his shirt.

So. People are weird.

Carrie

And here I'm spending all of my time coming up with creative ways to get out of going to dinner with our next door neighbor. I am horrified at the thought of bonding with someone who lives next door. Unfortunately, my overly friendly husband disagrees. We clearly need to switch houses.

Susie

I don't understand people who think being a jerk is a good plan of action, especially when it's to someone you are STUCK WITH. Like a neighbor. WHAT A JERKY JERK FACE.

Ahem. I'm sorry about your jerky neighbor.

Erin

I understand what you mean completely. The other day I was grocery shopping (mid-weekday-morning, the store was practically empty!) and after stopping my cart with 3 little kids in front of the refrigerator case, I reached in and grabbed several containers of yogurt and placed them in my cart. Then I had the unmitigated gall to open the refrigerator case again to get a carton of sour cream. I noticed a woman had come up close behind me and was glaring at me, so I said, "Oh, excuse me, I'll be out of your way in a second!" She responded by saying sarcastically, "Oh, it's no problem, I have nothing better to do than waste my life while you just take your f*&%ing time!" I was so taken aback (why are you swearing at me in front of my kids?!?) that I said nothing. Clearly she was a jerk, and maybe a bit crazy, and I shouldn't waste any more angsty headspace thinking about it! But my brain keeps wondering if I did something to provoke her that was ruder than I realized, or if I should have given her a firm answer back or or or? So I identify very much with your difficulty in blowing things like that off and not letting them ruin your day. Also I am really sorry that your neighbor was nasty to you!

Emily

Oh, Maggie, I understand! I could tell you allll sorts of similar hurt feelings I've had, but I just want to say: I get it.

Janey

Whether she was just having a hard day, or she has a hard life, I bet your neighbor is just sad, and you were a convenient person on which to take it out. Maybe she is jealous that you have enough visitors to necessitate parking in front of the mailboxes, and she desperately wishes she had that many friends and family. She clearly does not have a heart for hospitality, and I bet she has no examples in her life of a what a heartfelt apology looks like. I bet baking you cookies was as close as she can come to apologizing, as cookies at the holidays are expected and safe. Hind sight is 20 20, but if it ever happens again, maybe say something like, "You know, I'm really sorry. I know leaving around the mailboxes open is really important to you. I find that in the spirit of being welcoming and hospitable, sometimes I forget to ask people to move their cars. We are about to have some cookies and tea. Won't you come in and join us?" Kill her with kindness, and she'll have no choice but to either befriend you or retreat to her cave with her tail between her legs. As for Erin's sour cream incident, because I live in the passive aggressive capital of the country and hate confrontations, I probably would have just backed up and said loudly to my children that kindness and patience are always more important than dairy products.

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