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striking a balance with the neighbors


Human nature never lets me down. I don't need reality TV because I have my own human drama playing out right next to my house. I'm speaking, most specifically, about my neighbors, who we refer to as Mr. & Mrs. Kravitz. (I wonder what the neighbors call me and my husband. Most likely we are the Uptights or the Anal Retentives. I'd be cool with that label.)

Okay, so let's not confuse Frau Kravitz with Nuthouse who lives right next door with her lackey husband and their four small children. Kravitz is on the other side of Nuthouse. So if you stood in the street in front of our houses you would have us (the Uptights, that would be a spankin' name for a band, don't you think), Nuthouse and Frau Kravitz. So Kravitz and I create a sandwich around Nuthouse (lucky me).

Turns out Nuthouse is on vacation this week, which has been wonderful. Anyway, Kravitz and I have a bit of a history together. We really are frienemies. They moved in about four years ago and her youngest kid is the same age as my oldest. In the beginning she seemed like someone I could actually be friends with. That first summer I had her son over all the time in an effort to create a reciprocal child-watching situation. Never happened. If I watched her kid and had him over for dinner 35 times that summer she had my kid over three in return. Kind of unbalanced.

Oh yeah, at the time her son was about three or four and he was having "issues" with potty training. He was packing heat unless he was wearing a pull up. She told me he could go about eight to ten days without release. Finally she got some kind of medication that solved that problem.

But back to the pull up. I have girls. She has boys. Many times she sent her kid over wearing a pull up. Seems innocuous, doesn't it? Negative. He took that opportunity, in the pull up in my house, to release his bowels. Not only did it create an unholy stank, the kid would ask me to change him. Besides having a curious three-year-old girl in the house (my daughter) who wanted to watch the clean up effort, I have girls. Read: I am not familiar with the handling and cleaning of the equipment. My husband's equipment is like the oven -- it's self-cleaning.

Awkward? Yes.

I did grapple with telling him no, I cannot clean you up. But then I realized Kravitz would know I let him stew in his own juices. At the time I was worried about what she would think of me. So I plugged my nose, bit the bullet and cleaned it up. I did give him a pink pull up with princesses on it to wear home. I have girls, remember?

Anyway, this went on all summer and then the capper came in the fall. My oldest daughter was having an asthma attack and in severe respiratory distress (which at the time was undiagnosed and we were in a hurry to get her to the ER to figure out what was going on.) My husband took her and I was home with the baby. I wanted to go to the hospital to see my oldest that evening, as they admitted her and my husband didn't want to leave a 3-year-old alone in a scary hospital bed.

So I called Kravitz around 9 pm, asking if she can just sit in my house (two doors away from hers) and watch TV as the baby is down for the night. I figured the whole transaction would take 25 minutes, tops.

She gave a lame excuse and then said no.

That is when I got extremely pissed off and decided this being friends thing isn't gonna work out. I said, thanks anyway and decided she was dead to me. Yes, ma'am, I can hold a grudge tight. I didn't act out toward her in anyway, I just stopped inviting her kid over and then it was winter and we weren't outside anyway.

Now it's four years later and I really am immune to her. When I stopped attempting to be her friend she really responded to me.

It's like working with a cat. The people who want to play with the cat and pet it approach the cat and the cat runs away. It plays hard to get and won't let you touch it. When you ignore the cat and don't want it to be anywhere around you, the cat is walking in between your legs, rubbing up against you, practically begging you to pet it. Same thing goes with Kravitz.

Now that my expectations of her are zero this friendship is really working out. When it works out she's actually fun to talk to. When it doesn't, I could care less.

And strangely enough, I think she actually respects me now. Go figure.


2007-07-11 at 6:41 a.m.

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