Sunday, March 28, 2004

This weekend I learned what a lousy neighbor I am.

I live in a pretty nice neighborhood in San Francisco. All my neighbors seem to be pretty nice folks, and I'm generally a fairly decent fellow, so I try to be a good neighbor. This takes the form of being friendly, not making too much noise, and loaning the odd cup of sugar every now and then. If I lack good neighborliness in any way, it's probably that our front yard is a big pile of weeds 95% of the time. However, this weedfulness is mitigated by the tiny size of our front yard. Our yard is two small squares of dirt, each about 5ft by 5ft, on either side of our front door. We've tried to plant nice flowery things and take care of them, but entropy always rears its head fairly quickly in the process, and Mother Nature soon reclaims these tiny plots for her own. Well, Mother Nature and the neighborhood dogs perform a tag-team effort that is surprisingly effective. The end result is that our flowers soon turn to a weed-and-feces filled minefield.

But, hey, we tried, right? That counts for something, no?

Our first indication that we were the scourge of the neighborhood happened about two years ago. A Ken-and-Barbie beautiful couple rented the house across the street and weeded our front yard for us before we even had a chance to introduce ourselves. I kid you not. The first time I spoke to them was a couple of weeks after they moved in (we were busy, ok?), and it was to thank them for weeding our yard.

So, apparently our yard was so horrific that people who did have a financial interest in the neighborhood and did not even know us felt compelled to weed our yard merely because they couldn't bear to view it any longer after living near us for a mere couple of weeks. We sort of took the hint and planted some flowers shortly thereafter, but soon nature took its course again (see earlier paragraph about overly-eager Mother Nature and her dogs).

Using our finely honed powers of denial, the wife and I soon put this episode behind us.

Now, we've got some new neighbors again. This time they're right next door and they've made their also-tiny front yard immaculate. We are, apparently, once again, the blight of the neighborhood.

These neighbors, however, are not so bold as to actually weed and redecorate our yard for us. They're tactful folk. But, they're also resourceful. They wisely noticed that part of one of our dirt/weed plots actually overlaps their property line. So, they told us one day that they planned to do some landscaping in their bit of the shared property.

We may be bad gardeners and we may be fairly oblivious, but we're not complete idiots. This was clearly our chance to regain standing in the neighborhood, and move up to the coveted class of Probably-Not-The-Worst-Neighbor. Our neighbors gave us the In and we took it. In fact, not only did they give us the In, but they planned the design of the landscaping, did most of the weeding, did the shopping and ordering, performed the majority of the digging, stone-cutting (I am not joking!), dirt-pushing, feng-shui plant placing, draining, graveling, sweeping, and general gardening, all while being polite and friendly and non-condescending. They also did a top-notch job. The yard looks great.

So, for the 2nd time now, our neighbors have fixed up our front yard. I was able to delude myself the first time around, but now I see that I am truly a bad neighbor.

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