There was a buzz all weekend. Should I go over and say hello? Should I not? Should I go over and say hello? Should I not? Saturday afternoon, in the midst of tearing down wallpaper, (which, by the way, is the most disgusting home improvement project ever and thank God for my brother-in-law, who has much stronger arms than me or my sister) another note came through the slot telling me that the "party" (her quotes) was "on" (my quotes) and Bubbles and Chomps, another recent addition to the block would be in attendance as well!
Mindy and Juan said that I had no choice, two notes meant to had to go over and say something, but still I hesitated. What if the family was sitting down to dinner or the woman writing the notes wasn't even there or, worse yet, was plain old insane and would not remember that she had invited me to a party? What would I say then?
So Saturday passed without a word between our houses.
Sunday came and I had a band to interview, so I left again without saying a word, knowing the party would be nearly over by the time I returned. I picked up Brian from UH and told him I'd made up my mind, it was time to go over and say hello. And with the party surely soon to be over by the time we arrived home, it wouldn't be a big deal, we could just pop in and pop out.
Brian wasn't having any of it and refused to go over. He's like that and, well, it's not one of his better qualities, but at least he doesn't hunt or clip his toenails in front of me.
I hesitated twice on the fifty-foot walk between our houses. I rang the doorbell. People were chattering and no one was answered the door until someone said, "someone's at the door!" and this young, fat guy answered. He looked puzzled and I had to explain that I lived next door and he said, "prove it," and I laughed like I wanted to punch him. He let me in and I asked for the woman who was writing the notes and everyone kept saying her name, but she was bent over a little Chinese girl who was nattering on about her mail and how no one else was going to give her any more mail. Finally, someone got the woman's attention and I explained who I was and she screamed with delight and said, "oh! oh! add her to the list!" because there was a diagram of the block on posterboard that showed who lived where and she told me who everyone was and where they lived and, I swear to you, I don't remember any of their names.
She asked what I did for a living and I told her and she told me about all of the people she's not related to that she's raised. Apparently, this woman is a saint. A high-strung saint. She showed me pictures and introduced me to her daughter, who wouldn't look me in the eye when I shook her hand (but that's ok, I used to do that too). I was also introduced to the guy who smokes in his backyard next door and hacks until 1 a.m. He's got a combover and he reminded me of Dwight on the American version of The Office. She told me I had to get a dog! That everyone has a dog in this neighborhood! But I shook my head firmly and said, "I have two cats," and she said, "oh! We've got another cat lady," and pointed to the woman with the sexless haircut and mock turtleneck. "She feeds all the strays."
Everyone was very poorly dressed, but I loved that about them.
I left about ten minutes after I'd arrived and now feel I've made a good first step to being a really adequate neighbor.