Like them or not they are there, you are stuck with them. At 6am when you think it is safe to run outside in your knickers to sneak the bins out, rest assured one of them will be there to greet your less than glamorous ‘bed head’. When your toddler is hitting you in the driveway, and you finally lose it and shout back like the psycho mums on A Current Affair, there they are again. Like annoying little fleas those pesky neighbours will be there to catch you in your moment of glory. Sometimes it is from these fleeting glimpses that opinions are formed about the people we live beside.
For some of you, the word pesky would not spring to mind when describing your neighbours. In many streets and neighbourhoods across the world, your fence friends have been promoted to your greatest friends. My very first neighbours from our childhood home, are just that. They have attended our weddings, collected our mail, eaten with us, loved with us and have cried with us. As our lives have taken twists and turns we still remain part of each other’s story.
On moving into my own little family’s first home, I too had high hopes for long lasting relationships, fun times and idle chit chat with wonderful neighbours. Instead we got the Canadians (x 2), Mr Jopeck the Body Corporate Rebel, Nasty Bitter Evil Widow and her resident 40 year old virgin, and our personal favourite, the Promiscuous woman next door who we have affectionately nicknamed ‘sheets’. After several failed and unreciprocated attempts at friendliness, I have given up on ever actually getting to know them, and am happy to make up our own stories.
Let’s start with the Canadians. They were excitable, friendly young students attending the local university. They presented themselves unexpectedly at my screen door one day while I was vacuuming in my undies (yes I seem to do a lot in my undies) After the initial embarrassment I let them in and we had a cuppa and a chat. Though young and worlds apart, they were lovely and definitely wave worthy. That was until one crazy wild night one of them left her bedroom window wide open and treated us all to an Oscar winning performance with her boyfriend as the best supporting actor. At first I thought it was a cat fight, but when a male cat answered back in a Canadian accent we knew we were in for a long night. I could never look at her in the same way again. Luckily they moved shortly after as I did fear years of avoiding eye contact.
Next it was ‘Sheets’. Shortly after moving in we noticed this woman had a large number of male visitors. Sometimes they would miss each other by a matter of minutes. It was after one particularly ‘busy’ weekend that we came home to find her bedroom sheets hung to dry over the front fence, of course we made our own conclusions. Hence the name sheets. For all we know she was just doing a bit of washing, but our story was far more exciting.
Mr Jopeck is an older gentlemen who lives three doors down with his much younger asian bride. For all we know they could have been childhood sweethearts who had met in Sydney, but after walking past the window on several occasions and catching sight of Mrs Jopeck giving him a foot massage we have decided that the massage was perhaps part of the arrangement. Both fabulous neighbours. It just so happens Mr Jopeck enjoys a fighting the good fight with the Body Corporate, who are constantly trying to take him to court for placing vulgar looking homemade structures on his balcony.
Then there is Nasty Bitter Evil Widow and her resident 40 year old virgin daughter. I had not even met these two little characters until we were looking after my brother’s dog for a few weeks at Christmas time. The dog had only been at the house for a week when we received a hand written letter saying”
‘Your dog is making my life a noisy nightmare!’
I was willing to let this ride, but there was something about the aggression of the included Exclamation Mark that saw me marching down to their house for a confrontation. Despite the dog never being left outside apparently our dog was making her daughter’s life a noisy nightmare. Her daughter would be in her late forties, never married and still living at home. She did have a boyfriend for a little while, but last we heard her chasing him down the driveway shouting at him for calling her fat and looking at the boobs of the skinny ladies at the beach. One would suggest that perhaps if she stopped writing nasty notes and being horrible that she might be living with her boyfriend instead of her mum.
The one danger in allocating people private nicknames is that one day you are bound to let it slip out at the wrong time. We nicknamed my father in laws friend ‘Burgundy John’ because every time we saw him had had treated himself to a home colouring hair treatment which always developed into a pinkish burgundy colour. He thought he looked fabulous and that it made him look years younger. His opinion is probably all that mattered, but a 60 year old man walking around with pink hair cannot go un-nicknamed. The only problem was after years of calling him ‘Burgundy’ behind his back, we became too comfortable and had even forgotten what his actual name was. We had a major slip up one afternoon and addressed him as ‘Burgundy’ to his face. After some initial confusion and major backtracking, we managed to weasel our way out of it.
Last night we became those ‘Noisy Neighbours’ for the second time this year. Before you let your imagination’s run wild, our ‘noise’ was accidental and most unexpected. We had a knock at the door at 3:30am asking us to turn our music off. In our dazed and confused slumber, we were informed that our garage door was left open and the radio had been blasting throughout our little neighbourhood after turning on via a timer.
So as I sit here and type someone close by is most definitely referring to us with our own nasty little nickname. I would be quite happy if it was something along the lines of those ‘Noisy People from number 16’. But something tells me it may have more to do with showing my saggy bum a few too many times!