My neighbor is really smart. Not only because he reads a lot (it’s fundamental, kids) but because he didn’t use to live here, and he has a really cool job; the kind of job that none of us should try to understand because understanding will make it seem less cool than it now appears to those of us who don’t get to work from home in our pajamas and fly around the country every so often to work inside of computers that are the size of living rooms. Yesterday, he tried to “break it down” and make his job sound like something anybody could do/understand. Not necessary. When that happened, my brother and I automatically started a separate conversation, because thanks, but no thanks — we don’t need to understand what you do. We are satisfied with what we already know, and prefer to imagine the rest as being similar to that scene in “Lawnmower Man” where the computer is all, “Access Denied. Access Denied. Access Denied. Access Granted.” Further, my brother and I would never conceive of giving anyone the impression that they could understand the complexities of our respective careers, lest they mistakenly assume that we are in any way replaceable by them, or other persons, or robots. Over our dead bodies, maybe.
As cool as he is, my neighbor and I are not in perfect agreement on many subjects – primarily because he insists on there being “evidence” to support certain conclusions, whereas I refuse to be so confined. A transcript of one of our most recent conversation follows:
Neighbor: *offers logical/evidence-based observation of/explanation for something*
Me: Yeah. Or it was magic.
Neighbor: Right – magic. Is that like your ‘go-to’ answer for everything you don’t know?
Me: Ouch. I know that hurt. And I think it’s safe to say that it hurt you as much as it hurt me.
Neighbor: No it didn’t.
Sometimes I get the feeling my neighbor doesn’t think I am very smart and/or doesn’t like me very much. Ridiculous, I know, but more importantly — irrelevant. His opinions on such matters are inconsequential, since I decided I was really smart a long time ago, and since I cannot consider “mutual regard” to be a necessary component of any relationship. I invite my neighbor to every family/friend function! He usually says no. Well, sometimes he says yes, and then he just doesn’t show up — which is pretty much the same thing, and I don’t know about you-all, but I find that immensely comforting. I ask you — what could possibly recommend a neighbor more than consistency? Nothing. Let’s take a look at some of our other epic conversations:
Me: My room is haunted.
Neighbor: No, it’s not.
Me: Yes it is. You don’t know my life.
Neighbor: I know there’s no such thing as ghosts.
Me: Well, you know wrong.
Neighbor: Have you seen one?
Me: So if I haven’t seen something, it doesn’t exist?
Neighbor: I’m not going to go there with you.
Me: You need to make your cat stop attacking my cat.
Neighbor: Your cat needs to stop being a wuss.
Me: My cat is sensitive. Plus, he’s a lover, not a fighter.
Neighbor: Yeah, clearly. He impregnated your other cat.
Me: He did not impregnate his own mom! And I will thank you to keep your West Virginia ideology on your side of the fence.
Neighbor: You’re being ridiculous. Animals do not have the same associations/boundaries as humans.
Me: Yes, they do.
Neighbor: No, they don’t.
Me: How do you know?
Neighbor: Um, science.
Me: I gotta go.
Me: *something about aliens or magical person/creature or
My point is that my neighbor is cool, and we have some really great conversations. I hear people talk about the “death of the neighborhood” all the time – how they live for years beside people that they never get to know. That’s just wrong, and it makes me sad. But whose fault is it? I challenge you, beloved readers, starting now, to involve your neighbors in all of your family/”frienemy” dramas — not to mention subjecting them to your opinions on every conceivable subject — until they eventually cave in and start talking to you, or agree to call 911 when they think you have been murdered, or actually show up at a family function. Otherwise, who are you going to call when you need to go to the store at 4am, but you can’t because…your car has been stolen? I cannot overemphasize the importance of laying the groundwork for future
imposition neighborliness. My neighbor is there for me, even when he doesn’t want to be. Just like magic.