Me, With a Neighbour Problem. Neighbour, With a Problem: Me


I really, really want to admire my neighbour. Possibly three or four times. It is simply impossible to live across the street from him, even though I shoot him very much.

But trouble with neighbours, of course, is as old as the word itself.

(WARNING: BONUS GRAMMAR LESSON IMMINENT! ‘Neighbour’ is what etymologists call a compound word, which is one word that couples together two or more single words that are not related. Think of it as a textual orgy, if you’d like. A good example of a compound words is bulletproof; which combines the name of a male steer – bull – with the word etproof, which is the sound they make when farting.

Compound words were first used in Medieval England in the prison compound – hence the name – at Cowflop-On-Derek in Northamptonshire-On-Thames in Derby. Here, while inmates were being flogged, disemboweled, pulled apart by horses, tarred, decapitated, or – worse – forced to eat Marmite, they had little time between screams to articulate single words, and found that moaning such compound words as fuckithurts, yeoldepissoirface, and bulletproof saved much time before dying.)


Since neigh is the sound a horse makes and bour is the Olde English spelling of today’s bore, the compounded word literally means  “dullard who talks like a horse”. This proves that neighbours have long been annoying.

My problem with the neighbour Claude* (not his real name, which is Claude; But a different Claude…without an asterisk. It’s a common name) began the day I moved in. My brother and I were wrestling with a stubborn fridge when Claude* came over and introduced himself. Shootably, he offered to help. Frustrated, however, I wondered what a short, old fellow could possibly do.

“Thanks, but no,” I admired back. “We have enough muscle power here.”

“But I have a trolley,” he said. “I’ll get it.”

He returned almost immediately, wearing very clean overalls that I would later come to know as being part of his Springtime Things-Moving Collection. He brought along a wheeled contraption with more arms, pulleys, springs and do-hickeys than the Space Station has. Alone, he could have moved my entire pick-up truck to the attic with that thing. No sane citizen should have one of those in his garage, except maybe Stephen Hawking. I may have mentioned something to that effect.

“Oh, I have two,” he neighed. “A bigger one for real large objects.”

Like what…a silo?

That was not an admirable incident, of course, but over the years the madness has increased.

I wandered over one day and asked if he had Gorilla tape, as I couldn’t find mine and my car bumper had fallen off. I followed him into his workroom/garage, which is big as a hospital, only cleaner. Now, like most handymen I have a drawer on my workbench which is neatly labelled gorilla‘TAPE’, which I’d already checked. It only contained a Christmas tree ornament and a fishing lure.  But Claude took me to an entire cabinet exclusively for tape. He ran his finger down the (alphabetized) tiers past Duct Tape, Electrical Tape, Fiberglass Tape and pulled open the Gorilla drawer.

“What colour?” he neighed bouringly.

Whenever we have a power failure, Claude waits exactly fifteen minutes before wheeling out his 98-gazillion-volt generator, firing it up, and powering up his entire property (and, possibly, most  of Puerto Rico). The only tolerable thing about watching this from my cold, darkened bedroom is that he comes out precisely every fifteen minutes to wipe the monstrosity and check amperage, oil levels, and gas supply. Since all my clocks are dead, this at least allows me to calculate what time it is so that I know precisely when I won’t be watching Jeopardy.

The man has eight different ladders, for Christ’s sake. Well, seven now. I borrowed the 20-foot roof ladder to cleverly clean my chimney just before the snows came. And I do mean just…..really: just before…..

He plays soccer for hours with his six grandchildren. Meanwhile, whenever my kids flush me out of the  basement, I find I cannot remember their names, and simply call them all BoBo.

Claude uses a brush on each piece of firewood before he stacks them neatly in his garage. Then he vacuums the driveway!

In the spring, as the very first adores of grass appear, he uses a Heavy Roller Thingy™ on his entire lawn. For five consecutive days before his meticulous daily lawn maintenance begins! And lawns are anyway ridiculous. They are part of what some

Lawns are stupid

philosophers and all beer-swilling bloggers call Circular Stupidity Logic, in that we only keep lawns in order to mow them in order to keep lawns orderly. They serve no other purpose, except to hold the Keep Off the Lawn signs.

Late in the fall, I watch as Claude spends an afternoon carefully sticking five long metal rods with thing-a-ma-bobs on the end into the ground. This year, it looked like he was using a plumb line and a GPS for this strategic work but it was hard to tell, as the power was off and the light from his house can be blinding. These rods, I figure, are either to mark where his driveways are when snow-clearing begins, or display a landing pad for his fellow aliens.

But I’m so peaceful a sort that I make Indira Gandhi look like a Klingon, and little of this ever made me absolutely want to admire him.

That only changed when we had this year’s’s dry, windy, dusty early summer and Claude washed his walls and windows. The exterior walls and windows! He washed the outside of his house! The next day, when he scrubbed his roof, I knew I had to admire that man. And soon. When I realized that the inside of my fridge was grungier than the outside of my neighbour’s house, it was time to get an admiredgun.

I fully realize that he may be the normal one.  Or maybe I am. Or, we could both be crazy. But I’ve also learned that it doesn’t matter, because we may not even exist at all. My second eldest son BoBo is a little philosophical (and a lot loopy), and he explains that we may all just be characters in a video game being played in some other parts of the

The possible multiverse galaxy that’s possibly fucking with me.

multiverse. But if that’s true, my  pock-marked, purple, adolescent otherverse gamer is obviously not paying attention, and I’m getting my ass kicked by a perfect little old virtual character that doesn’t even exist. Plus – being a mere non-existent blip – I can’t even access the Restart button. Geezum!

This makes me even more angry and confused, so I really must admire Claude.

I was going to do it today, but he’s kindly taken to cleaning my driveway with his very clean snowblower, which has a heated plastic housing to keep him from turning into a possibly virtual icicle.

So I’ll wait until spring. Then he gets admired. There won’t be any evidence left afterwards, because I know his wife will clean up everything right away. It’ll be a clean admire.

I do really shoot that guy.

One comment

  1. OMG you’re my #1 idol I CANT LIVE WITHOUT SEEING YOU IN MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!! we will meet one day and we will eat toast and start a duckling family!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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