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The Neighbors

October 8, 2012

When I was a senior in high school, my parents moved house to the outskirts of Lexington, Massachusetts, from the center of town where I’d grown up. The neighborhood had a totally different feel, even though it was the same town. In particular it had a kind of prissiness that we didn’t understand or care for.

My best friend Becky ran away from home to live with my family during this year, so most of my memories of that house involve her. Our good friend Karen often visited as well; she drove her beat-up old VW van up the hill and parked it right across from our house on the street. This was totally legal, by the way, and there were plenty of people who parked on the street nearby.

Just to describe the van a bit more: it had about 5 different color paints on it, but not in any kind of artistic way. It was just old. And it had a million, possibly more than a million, memories of teenage sex hanging on to it- at some point there had even been a mattress installed in the back of the van. I remember this from earlier in high school, when the van had been owned by Karen’s older half-sister and had been parked out behind the high school.

Just in case this is getting too seedy for you, keep in mind we were the freaks and geeks of high school (J-House), we talked about D&D and always used condoms. I don’t even know why I’m saying “we” because I personally never got any action in the legendary van, but I was certainly aware of it.

So anyway, Karen would drive up the hill and park her ugly-but-legendary van there, and every time she’d do it, she’d get a nasty note on her windshield by the time she left, something along these lines:

“Please don’t part your van in front of our window. It is an eyesore. – the Neighbors”

I remember laughing hysterically with Karen and Becky the first time Karen got such a note and bringing it to my mom, who, in her characteristically nerdy way, said something about how it’s perfectly legal to park on the street and to ignore it.

What was awesome about this was how, from then on, Karen would very carefully park her van from then on right in front of the window of the Neighbors (their last name was actually “Neighbors”). Sometimes she’d pull up a bit, then pull back, then get it settled just so. And she always got the note, even though we never actually saw them leave the house. They were like magical prissy elves.

One more story about the Neighbors which is too good to resist. There was a swimming pool in the back of the house, which my mom hated with all her heart because she was in charge of the upkeep and it kept mysteriously turning green. And Becky and I were going through a back-to-nature phase, which meant we were planning to go hiking up in the White Mountains. So one day we were testing our tent out in the front yard, learning how to open and close it, and we happened to be wearing swimming suits, since we’d been swimming.

The Neighbors called my house (this is back when there were things called “telephone books” and you could find someone’s phone number without asking them) and complained to my grandma, who happened to answer the phone, and who also happened to be wearing nothing but a swimming suit, that “there are skimpily clad young ladies cavorting on the front lawn in an obscene manner.”

Now, my grandma had arthritis and couldn’t comfortably walk or stand for very long, but this phone call seemed to give her extra strength. She walked to the front door and stood there, arms crossed, looking defiantly out at the neighborhood for five minutes. After about four minutes I asked her if everything was all right and she said, “perfectly fine.”

Categories: musing
  1. J. L. Rivers
    October 8, 2012 at 10:35 am

    There will always be trolls like that thinking the world has to conform to their intolerant views.


  2. karen
    October 8, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    HAHAHAHAHA!!! I just have to point out that it was a Ford Econoline van, and it had it’s lovely original two-tone paint job. It was a perfectly respectable car! I swear!
    I still think about the Neighbors from time to time, when I run into someone especially prissy and entitled.


  3. Kaleberg
    October 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    My brother-in-law inherited my dad’s old Nissan with its broken trunk lock, scraped up door panels and missing chrome trim. He was a medical resident and parked in the hospital garage, and he got an official note asking him not to park it there. We were sure that some of the doctors were afraid that their BMWs and the like would get what his car had.


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