WELL, I just call that rude.
There she is again, working on her building project right next door, and she can’t even spare me a glance.
Her husband’s no better. He’s hovering nearby, keeping an eye out. For what? North Vancouver District property inspectors? Hardly. Neither of them seems to care a bit about the rules. Some neighbours think they’re all that.
Instead of consulting plans or combing lists of local regulations, she keeps up the construction work to beat the band. I guess she’s the one all those home-reno shows are aimed at, the social climber who thinks nothing of frantically building, then abandoning her latest residence in favour of something she deems superior for herself and her family.
We’ve had other neighbours like this – property flippers who kept us hopping with months of noisy, smelly alterations to their side of our common property. Eventually, after their improvements inconvenienced us for the umpteenth time, we were not even on speaking terms.
Much like it is with these two. They ignore my curiosity entirely. They don’t care if I approve or not, or if the sight of their breakneck enterprise disturbs my solipsistic afternoons.
It’s not that I mind them being here. I’m actually intrigued by their youthful energy, their barrel-chested shenanigans. While I myself have no interest in sawing or dry-walling or painting, or even advising anybody on window placement, I’d love to lend a hand in my own quiet way.
Why, just yesterday, and today, I went into my basement, collected a bunch of comfortable-looking clothes-dryer lint, and tossed it in the yard while they were out, presumably getting a bite to eat. “Be my guests,” I said, under my breath.
They’re obviously cheapskates when it comes to finding supplies, so I thought they’d appreciate my generosity. Who wouldn’t? You need something, your neighbour drops it by without your even mentioning it. I think that makes me just about the nicest person on the block, but again, no response.
My donated construction materials are still out there, looking like sodden rainclouds. What am I, a politician dangling empty election promises? No. I’m the sort of person where, if you gave me the least bit of encouragement, I would probably bake you something. I’d lend you a book, get my kid to mow your lawn. I’m basically a mensch.
Well, what would you call someone like me who sits in a chair, smiling, silently staring at you while you build what might well turn out – from my perspective -- to be an eyesore, and then, unasked, just throws a few supplies your way?
Another thing I’m doing is keeping interlopers off their property. Ordinarily I might invite anyone over, regardless of his or her interests. But now, say my friend was one of those French chefs who collects the tiny, rare songbirds called ortolans, puts them in dark boxes to eat themselves silly, drowns them in a snifter of Armagnac, then roasts them and feeds them whole to debauched rich people at private dinners on the hush-hush. I have to say that I would not invite that friend over right now, not while our new neighbours are so busy.
I’ve also been keeping buddies with pets at bay. There are currently no dogs on the premises and I have no plans to invite any over in the foreseeable future. I have also consistently refused to allow admission to anybody even vaguely feline. This season, women with cat-like eyes are not on my party list.
Likewise, I’m not returning the calls of people who loved the musical Cats.
I’ll explain it all to them later, how I was being respectful and considerate, how I feared my new neighbours might be allergic to, or intolerant of, animals. These friends will probably forgive me, and if some of them don’t, well, honestly, the fact that they enjoyed Cats has always been a bit of a bone of contention. Dreadful story, awful songs -- that friendship has probably sailed.
All this is my way of trying to establish a connection with the new couple next door. Yet they remain decidedly standoffish, as if I’m not good enough to cultivate.
Three can play at that game. It’s not as if I mean to invite them and their eggs over for Easter. And I don’t expect us to be bosom bodies, though frankly, she and I both have the bosom for it. I’d just like the robins to look over one time, give me a bit of a wink, and twitter, “Thanks for the lint. It makes all the difference.”
Is that so much to ask?