Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Catch-22 of Crazy Neighbor Fence Repair

There are many times, since I've gone out and acquired my very own crazy neighbor, that I have thought about Robert Frost and good fences making good neighbors. Although, really, we could have a terrific fence, and it would only get feces (no, I didn’t forget a letter) on it from her throwing it at our house. But her fondness for finding creative uses for excrement is another subject. Entirely.A good fence can seem nicer than a new pair of Jimmy Choos when you have an insane neighbor with a penchant for making graffiti with feces and vandalizing plants. Although if I was picking shoes right now, I might try Louboutin's pony hair leopard print wedges (but I'm not totally sure how they would look on).

Anyway. The fence between my yard and my crazy neighbor’s was old when we moved in, and has grown steadily more dilapidated, and is now positively ramshackle. But… do you put in a new fence and have the crazy neighbor go beserk about her overgrown shrubs being chopped back a bit while the new fence goes in? Or do you let it look rather West Virginian and try not to trigger the crazy shouting by disturbing things? We have, to date, opted for the not triggering option.

We may reconsider, though. A few days ago, I came home from taking the children to swim lessons to find my crazy neighbor in my yard. I don’t know about you, but I am not super-fond of discovering a crazy person who’s enthusiastically threatened to kill me puttering around in my yard.

As it happens, a few months ago, she expressed her opinion that my husband and I should replace the (shared) fence, since it has grown so dilapidated. I found her taking matters into her own hands, trying to repair the sagging wood. I told her that she shouldn’t be in my yard, and she explained that since I had poisoned her rhubarb (uh, no. but seriously, she growns rhubarb? WTF?) and damaged her tomatoes (uh, it’s called the Pacific Northwest and mosaic virus, lady; tomatoes have it rough here) that the hole in the fence needed to be repaired to stop me from sneaking through. I explained that no, I didn’t sneak through the hole (in my spare time? Because really, it would be so much nicer than relaxing with a glass of wine and painting my toenails) with herbicide with intent to harm rhubarb. Ho-kay. I told her she needed to get out of my yard, and I must have been making a less-than-friendly face, because although she continued to shout, she scuttled on out of my yard, saying she was going to call the police. I told her that we wouldn’t harm her, or hurt her plants, but if she felt she was being injured, it would be wise to call the police. Gah.

We went out and about. I returned home briefly to grab a few things for the kids and as I was walking up the street, I heard: “Meg is a whore! Meg is a whore! Meg is a whore! Whore! Skin and bones! Skin and bones! Meg is skin and bones! Because of poor living! Meg is skin and bones! Skin and bones! Whore! Whore! Whore!” I couldn’t quite make it out, at first, but as I came into hearing range, I realized that, in fact, my crazy neighbor is calling me out in a very specific way. Faaaan-tas-tic. Although, well, it’s hard not to smile- she thinks I’m skinny!
I stopped to chat with her, at the usual shout, and she put her hands over her ears and scuttled away (“Shaddap! Shaddap! Shaddap, you bitch!”) when I explained that it is not nice to sneak into people’s yards and poison their plants (even if one of them is rhubarb), and that we wouldn’t do that. She stuck with "Shaddap! Shaddap! You did it!" I don’t think I would say that it was a conversation that went well.

The moment she has closed her fence gate behind herself, so that she could no longer see me, she resumed her shouting. It was lovely. There really is nothing like hearing your name and whore shouted together, at top volume. For twenty minutes.

Clearly, my crazy neighbor was a little irritated.


AJD said...

Wow. Makes the three tear-downs 'adjacent' to our lot (one yes, the other two are one house away) seem positively peaceful by comparison. Although you never know - by building 3 new McMansions that (invariably) lawyer-types will by, we could end up with not one but three crazy neighbors, but of the crazy-like-a-fox & prone-to-lawsuits variety. Probably more annoying (& expensive) but definately less colorful someone screaming "skinny whore! bag-o-bones" for 20 mins. ...

chris said...

All I would have heard was skinny.

Seriously, I'm a lawyer and I would totally sue her for mental distress. No really, I would keep an eye on her. She sounds unstable. Does she have a guardian or someone who looks after her?

Meg said...

I was pretty pleased about the skinny bit. Especially because with all the desserts we've been eating, I've been feeling like a well-stuffed sausage.
For all I like to make fun of my crazy neighbor, it is a very serious and sad circumstance that she's in. She's a great example of gaps between mental health and criminal behavior that allow some people to slip through in ways that aren't good for them, or the people around them. I talk pretty regularly with social services (she has to accept help for them to give it, or have it be a part of a sentence from a court), mental health services, the police, her nieces (her behavior understandably drives her family away, and their descriptions of being in her family make me pretty sympathetic to their only coming by when they absolutely have to), her pastor and other folk. We've held off on getting a restraining order for the time being, but I expect that eventually we'll need to get one.

Jade Graham said...

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