In all my life, I’ve had zero real conversations with my neighbors. Next week, that’ll be 32 years.
Growing up, we had Sally as our our only real neighbor. She was overweight and handicapped and she was maybe the worst person I’ve ever known. Top 20, for sure. Before you label me a bad person know that every time there was a snow storm she’d call my mother and have me shovel out her driveway. This wasn’t so bad, and frankly, it’s the right thing to do for someone who can’t do it themselves. BUT that witch was the most ungrateful handicapped woman you’ll ever meet. She never offered to pay us and she’d send out her weirdo boyfriend to tell us that we didn’t do a good enough job. I was alone and I was 13, Sally. Those walls I threw the snow over are fucking high and I get it that your boyfriend uses a cane but this is too much rock salt for a human to spread.
And that’s pretty much why I work with children with special needs. I don’t want them to end up like her. She really just had a physical handicap so it’s nothing at all like the kids I work with but I do hold a position where I can instill morals. And that moral philosophy is the anti-Sally code. So if you hear me say, “Don’t be a Sally” it’s not a homophobic or sexist thing. It’s a screw-you Sally thing.
We had Norman who wasn’t really a neighbor but more like our family nemesis. He owned the parking lot across the street and wouldn’t let us park there. It was literally a giant unoccupied lot and due to unknown adult reasons, we weren’t allowed to use that space. My parents were even forced to spend potential Disney World trip money on a new driveway so we could park our 12 used Buicks there. My dad owns a gas station and I’ve gleaned from spotty information that old ladies would die and leave their cars to him. We would be the lucky recipients. One day, after several months of owning a new white shit-box Buick, 4 warm Coors Light cans just rolled to my feet when I stopped short. They were the dead ladies’ cans and I wonder if she was drinking and driving when she died now that I think about it.
And then there was Mrs. Small. Mrs. Small lived behind us and looked exactly like the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz. She was a widow and let my dad use her garden for himself in exchange for 8 cucumbers and 4 tomatoes per season. Because of this, we couldn’t say mean things about her (and especially her son, Dick) but we were all scared to death of her and her ferocious dog. One time I had the duty of bringing vegetables to her porch and I think I stopped breathing for nine minutes. I think she’s still living which makes her the oldest woman on the planet.
Needless to say, I’ve never had the fun neighbors I saw on television as a kid. All I have left is what I think a good neighbor should be. There were just so many good neighbors on television growing up. They must be based off real experiences right?
1.) Mr. Feeny
Corey Matthew’s principal and neighbor–all in one. Sure, at first it would be a little intimidating. I remember seeing one of my teachers in church and being so caught off guard.
You live outside of school?
But that fear must subside once you consistently see a man cook his dinner on an hibachi grill. The man bestowed wisdom…all the time. It was as if he had a pre-made playbook with all of life’s paradoxes. Dad can’t help you with Geometry? Ask Feeny. You mom caught your father with another woman? Feeny would understand because being a teacher for that many seasons, you’ve heard it all. The one downside is that any time you get in trouble, you’re shitting your pants hoping Dad doesn’t cross paths in the backyard with Feeny. You just need to keep your shit together or hope you catch him doing something weird so you can blackmail him. But you kind of don’t want to catch him doing something weird because then he’d just be the weird neighbor.
2.) Winnie Cooper
Guys have always been attracted to the ‘girl next door’ type. But imagine that you’re attracted to the girl who literally lives next door. Unreal. Sure, when things go bad or when she rejects you for the football player, you can’t get away from the fact that she lives right there. But it just makes you step up your game. You don’t let her get away. She was cute and smart so Kevin could invite her over to help with homework and Norma would be OK with letting you guys shut the bedroom door! Mrs. Small was pretty much the polar opposite of Winnie Cooper. If I ever entered Mrs. Small’s house I wouldn’t be writing this now and I think she’d grind me up into garden soil.
3.) Steve Urkell
This was a tough one. I went back and forth between Kimmie Gibbler and Wilson from Home Improvement but decided Kimmie lost points due to my inference that her parents were neglectful and crazy and Wilson lost points because he only seemed to talk to the dad, Tim. Urkell on the other hand has some obvious pitfalls. He was annoying as hell and if Facebook existed then, he’d be arrested for internet stalking the fuck out of Laura. But listen. My argument has been thought out. First off, he’s a sympathetic character. In one episode he says that his parents didn’t feed him every day and in another episode we learn the kid was born in a car. Don’t remember that? Neither did I but it’s on Wikipedia so it’s 110% true. I mean a starving kid born in a car already makes him more likable than my handicapped neighbor, Sally. But more than that, he’d be a great neighbor for more selfish reasons. His invention that turned him into the smooth-talking Stefan was amazing. I’ve heard of neighbors lending out sugar and baking each other niceties so imagine sharing a machine that maximized sex-appeal? It’s every 7th grader’s dream. I needed it so bad. I’m the front-row/middle… in what may be the ugliest year of my life.
*Edited from my Tumblr days
**The blog post is edited. Not that photo. That’s just raw.