When you leave for work at 6:15 a.m. and don’t generally get home until 4 or 5 p.m., neighborhood happenings are the last thing you are worried about. However, when you start spending most of your waking hours in and around your house, all of a sudden the neighborhood becomes a highly intriguing place.
Take, for example, the mysterious house on the corner, about a block from my own house.
When it was first built, a middle-aged pastor and his wife lived there. I don’t know about pastors in your neighborhood, but in mine, they generally try to keep a low profile. If they are doing anything out of the ordinary, they always pull the shades first. It’s how pastors keep their jobs.
When the pastor died, the house was purchased by a young couple (and eventually a baby) who were two of the hardest working people I’ve ever seen. That house was re-sided, polished, shined, and groomed within an inch of its life. Those two kept the most immaculate yard in a six-block radius. Every blade of grass, every shrub, every flower in the yard was a photo op for Better Homes and Gardens. They made the rest of us step up our game a little.
Then, two years ago, the house was sold. We started noticing the deterioration almost immediately: untrimmed trees and bushes, two barking dogs in an outdoor kennel, trash in the yard, unmowed grass. But none of our business really—and besides, I went to work every day so I didn’t have time to worry about the neighbors.
After I retired and was around the neighborhood all day, I noticed what had been happening. All of a sudden, the house had become a pickup truck magnet. Not just one drive-around-town pickup truck or a couple of working-man pickups with pickup box tool chests in the bed. No, these were tricked out, pimped up pickup trucks—three of them parked there on a regular basis, and several others that would come and go.
Their tailgates said things like “Southern Belle” and “Hillbilly Deluxe” and “Redneck Mud Militia.” Decals in the rear cab windows read:
*I Killed a Six Pack Just to Watch It Die
*I’m Not Speeding, I’m Qualifying
*White by Birth, Trash by Choice
*Bubba Is My Old Man
*You Say Potato, I Say Tater
And while the three or more men who come and go around that house drive new-model, detailed trucks, the two women who appear to live in the house drive those 20-year-old, 180 thousand mile, rusted-out-silver kinds of cars with no hubcaps or mufflers. I guess it’s tough to be a redneck woman unless your redneck man decides to give you a ride in his redneck truck.
They moved a hot tub into the driveway in front of the garage. If I walk by early in the morning, the edge of the tub is lined with beer cans. Flood lights glare until late at night as they work on their trucks and re-paint cars in the garage.
I intend to bake a cake one day and take it over, just to be neighborly and all. (Or if it’s a meth lab, I want to make sure they have proper licensure to run a business in a residential neighborhood.)
Besides, there are too many trees in the way to get a good look through my binoculars.