Answering My Neighbor

I am so mad I could spit.  Or cry.  My mother taught me not to say mad when I meant angry.  But I think enough anger can induce a state of madness.  This is the deal:  At 10:45 p.m. I put my dog on a leash and walked her around my driveway.  We stopped at the curb to bring in the mail.  I did this because lately she has taken to refusing to come in when I let her out at night.  When she does that, if I’m able to go down the stairs and across the grass and bend down to fetch her from her nest under the evergreen, I do it.  If I can’t make it, she has to stay out there until she feels like coming in the next morning.  When she’s out, she doesn’t bark persistently.  She will say “arf, arf” in her quieter barking voice every 15 or 20 minutes if there’s anything moving out there.  She’s been stubborn and perverse, common dachshund traits, and now she’s back to being escorted outside every night like a baby. 


Tonight when we fetched the soggy mail, I found a letter from my neighbor.  It was typed, right down to the signature.  He said that lately he’d been hearing my dog barking at night.  The barking disturbs him and his wife and that’s not a good thing.  He wants to handle it like neighbors, and not have to call in “the authorities”.  I’m to call if I have any questions. 


I must be an anachronism.  You see, to me, handling something like neighbors doesn’t mean typing a letter and tucking it into the mailbox.  We live next door to each other, we know each other, and my doorbell and telephone work.  I happen to be the same neighbor that buys stuff from his kids every time they have a fundraiser at school (and there are three of them), examines his banged-up child when she falls off her bike, and fixes his wife’s evening gown when he breaks the zipper an hour before the party.  I’m also the neighbor who invited them to dinner a week after they moved in, and who knitted a blanket for their third baby when she was born soon after.  Now THAT’s what I call neighborly. 


Because you see, neighbor – can I call you “neighbor”? – there are other factors at play here.  You and your wife are young.  I doubt either of you has reached 35.  I know that your young family is the only thing on your mind, and you think the world revolves around you.  There hasn’t been a time when you have knocked on my door to say “Hey, haven’t seen you around.  Is everything ok?”  It probably hasn’t occurred to you that there are nights when I’m physically unable to carry my stubborn, 18-lb dog into the house.  Or that there are going to be evenings when I give up and let her run out into the fenced yard again because I can’t stand up long enough to take her out on the leash.  You and your wife have never offered me or my daughter so much as a cup of coffee or a conversation in your house.  If I wanted to visit, I had to drag a lawn chair over and catch your wife and children when they were playing outside.  I did that a couple of times, because sometimes loneliness is stronger than my fear of sun sickness. 


You don’t read my blog.  I guess I could send you a typewritten letter saying “if you want to hear my response to your letter, log on and read my blog”.  But no, I’m going to drag my sacroiliitis and my tender feet across the yard to your door and ring the bell and tell you in person that I am trying to take care of my dog and I’m sorry that she was allowed to stay out and disturb your sleep.  And if I can do it without those tears of upset and anger, I will say some of these other things, too.




One Response

  1. grrr. Face to face is best, and I know you will articulate the problem in a manner that gets it all across with your usual grace. How about a trip to Nashville??

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