What do you do when you realize the neighbors hate you? Do you cower in the house and contemplate relocation? Do you carry on with the frontyardwork, wave and smile but maybe let your dog pee on his hostas sometimes?
I have this across-the-street neighbor – we’ll call him Walter because that’s his name – who is exceedingly jovial. He resembles a Portuguese Jerry Garcia and seems as laid back as your average cigar smoking deadhead. He was the first on my street to give me the thumbs up for ripping out shrubbery and planting a garden and he always waves and smiles when I walk by with the dog. But Walter, like many long haired children of the 60’s, loves the Golden Oldies and is apparently hard of hearing – and only ever plays his current fave on a loop. Last year we were treated to Moody Blues at top volume from his shop. This year evidently his fave is a Portuguese crooner not unlike Tom Jones who covers songs like House of the Rising Sun, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and other earworms now played at top volume from his car in a garage that faces our street.
I think perhaps if he had varied the selection at all this weekend (or if it was this band I found on YT) I might have been more tolerant of the noise. Honestly, the first time through I kind of enjoyed the kitsch of it. But by the 6th or 8th repeat I had pretty much had it. There was nowhere in the yard or house to retreat to. Even with the ipod at high volume plugged directly into my brain I could still hear Walter’s album. We even elected to vacate the premises only to return to the same. So today, Sunday – the God given quiet day, after my dogwalk, I peered into the garage where Walter was working on his car and wrecking his eardrums, smiled and gave the universal hand signals for “Dude, could you turn the music down a notch before I lose my mind? Thanks, man. Peace!” I thought he nodded and said OK.
A few minutes later, blessed silence and I went back out to mow the grass. I spotted Walter and smiled and waved but he was shouting something. Hold on, I can’t quite hear you…
“YOU LIVE HERE FOR A MONTH AND THIS GARAGE IS MY PROPERTY AND YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO” (oh shit.)
“Oh no!”, still smiling, “I just was hoping you’d turn it down a li-”
“YOU MOVE HERE TWO WEEKS AGO AND THIS IS MY PROPERTY AND YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”
Not smiling anymore – wide eyed, panicked, “No, I really just wanted you to turn it down – we could hear it everywhere over he-”
“YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”
Hands up in universal “I surrender.” “Aaargh. OK Walter. Turn it up. We love it.”
It’s been quiet ever since but I can’t help wondering what the hell? Granted, this is Bristol where anyone who isn’t “born” here doesn’t belong and 2 and a half years in the neighborhood is exactly like 2 weeks. But he had been fairly welcoming. Is Walter on a bender and will he be jolly again tomorrow? Is he seething and plotting vengeance for the ruination of his afternoon? Will he forbid his grandchildren to ever pet Nino again? Can we weather this with hilarity or do we need to start house hunting?