A Letter To My Neighbors. Part Deux.
Wednesday, 3:30 a.m.
Dear College Boys Next Door:
It’s been a while since I’ve written you last. The neighborhood has been fresh and calm, abuzz with the sounds and smells of spring. And for weeks we’ve lived in relative, peaceful harmony — you studying for finals, and me working quietly in my office.
But now I feel the need to write again, because lately our shady truce, it seems, was constructed on crumbling substrate, and it might be time to re-visit the terms:
1. Please understand that summer for you is very different from summer for me. For you, summer means no more classes, tests, wake-up calls, or responsibilities. It means keg parties at noon on Tuesday and the constant clack of your apparently 8-pound cornhole bags (that’s beanbag toss, for all of my Yankee friends) echoing across our tiny backyards during 9 hour tournaments. It means that the older boys have moved out of the house and the young ones have moved up the echelons, which equates to more time for drunkenness, less time for sleep, and a considerable increase in thick, viscous ego polluting the air that surrounds our homes.
For me, however, summer means pretty much the same as winter. I’m just in a better mood because the days are longer, and I get to open the windows while I work.
2. I can’t really open the windows when I work, because you’re out there. ALL of the time. Mostly with your shirts off, which is cool, but not cool enough for me tune out the shouting, the loud swearing, the shouting, the swearing, and the shouting.
And look. I’m not exactly Pollyanna over here, as I’m sure you’ve heard when I yell at my dogs, but a fairly constant summer serenade of “F*CK!” and “F*CK YOU!” drowning out the chirping birds and buzz of mowers is not super conducive to maintaining a productive work flow. It makes me nervous, because I can’t tell if you’re belligerent or just young, and also it disturbs my chi. And no, I don’t really know what that means. But I’m trying to figure it out, because you know. I’m in my early 30’s, and that’s what we do. (We also do yoga, drink craft beer, and consider wine tasting parties a rockin’ good time.)
But basically, you’re ruining my mental buzz.
3. When I’m asleep. When I’m asleep, my mental buzz is its most astute. In fact, when I’m asleep, especially during summer, I’m doing my best of my best work. So when you interrupt that work at 3:00 on a Wednesday morning with the intoxicated, irrational, “F*CK YOU!” shouts of a belligerent fool just 5 feet away from my bedroom window, it’s akin to waking a ninja from deep REM sleep, and I’m like there — BAM! — seconds outta bed with adrenaline on high and nunchakus at the ready.
I mean, if I wanted to be woken up in the middle of the night this often, I’d just have children.
And you know — when you do this to me, I will flash those floodlights on you with the intensity of interrogation I usually reserve for determining who ate my last Reese’s peanut butter egg. And let me tell you this: No one looks good in flood lights.
4. Sometimes, if your shirts are off, you still look good in floodlights.
Which is irrelevant, because…
5. Okay. I need you to stop calling me “ma’am.” I get that it’s a southern thing and also I’m a decade older than you and I do old people things like flashing the floodlights and asking you to keep your cornhole racket to a minimum on weeknights, but still.
To me, who’s still a northern girl at heart, “ma’am” is for mothers and the elderly and librarians.
“Ma’am” means respect, but it also means old.
And I’m not old old. I thought we’d covered this. I thought you understood.
But last night, when I nicely asked you to shut down the cornhole, both figuratively and literally, because I had to wake up at 6:00, you said, “No problem, Ma’am!”
And that was like… the meanest thing you’ve ever done.
You can call me “ma’am” when I look like this.
I think we’ve come a long way since the time before Truce. I did my best to lower my expectations of daytime quiet hours and gave you a free pass for parties on weekends, and you did your best to not be assholes. In fact, you were quite considerate for several glorious weeks. And those are weeks I still look back on with fondness and longing.
You took the parties inside at respectable hours. You waved nicely when I walked the dogs. You realized the city has bulk trash pickup days and now the old furniture and broken bicycles and random vacuum cleaners are no longer squatting along the side of your house.
You’ve come so far.
Don’t throw it all away now for some cheap Natty Lights and debaucherous summer thrills.
Just do it at someone else’s house. A college community, preferably, where people understand you.
Because we pay way too much for this little slice of this suburban paradise that you’ve somehow managed to transform into Fraternity Row.
And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just wait until you’re thirty.
You’ll get it.
Because when your young college neighbors finally move on, you’ll throw a wine tasting party to celebrate.
Respectfully, (not really, but this is me trying)