Won’t You be My Neighbor

by Bella Rum

Penny dropped by with cinnamon buns. It’s true that the cinnamon buns were from Kroger’s and stale, but Penny was not. Stale, that is. She was nice and funny and informative and in her mid-forties. She knows everyone in the neighborhood. She loves it here and assured us that it’s a very friendly neighborhood. She told us that she lives in the rancher a few doors down from us.

We’ve only met one other person, Jimmy. Jimmy is about eighteen and lives with his mother down at the end of the cul-de-sac. H met him when he was mowing the yard next-door. The house belongs to Jimmy’s grandmother. She’s in a long-term care facility, and the house is going up for sale soon. When the new buyers move in, by dawn the following day, I will be on their doorstep with homemade something or other. Is that too soon? What’s the proper amount of time to give new neighbors before you accost them? Maybe a week? Or three days?

After all, this is the South… sort of. I’ve never moved anywhere that people didn’t show up in droves at the front door with everything from deviled eggs and brownies to house plants and annuals. There’s another rancher for sale that’s up on the corner of “the other” street in the neighborhood, and I’m dying for it to sell.  

We’ve met no one, but Penny said that her mother, Sandy, lives on “the  other” street in the neighborhood (it’s the only other street; it’s a small neighborhood). Penny says that she’s very friendly, and she started a gardening club with some other ladies in the neighborhood. Well, there you go. Right up my alley. Penny also said that my next-door neighbors on the other side are very, very nice. I haven’t met them.

I see people in their yards. So I know people are here… living in the other houses. And we hear lawn mowers on Sunday afternoons. This is not the Twilight Zone… which I was beginning to think before Penny dropped by with the cinnamon buns. But then again, maybe she’s just the most normal one so they send her out to throw new people off the scent. Maybe everyone else has a third eye or a bulging, pulsing brain.

As soon as the intense heat relents (December?), I will start walking, and I plan to walk right up to people who are outside (I won’t bang on doors. I do have my limits) and introduce myself and tell them that I’m new to the neighborhood…. Where’s that pond? How much does it cost to join the swim/racquet club? Do they have special packages when you only have three grands who will only use it a few times a year? Etc. Etc. Etc. I am very good at social speak. They will not get away from me.

This place is loaded with old people, active old people. I see them gardening in their yards when I drive in and out of the neighborhood, and walking briskly by my house. I’ve also noticed a couple of those  BARVs (Pronounced BarVee as in Big Ass Recreational Vehicle). A family of six could live in those things. It’s not for me, but God bless ’em.

Anyway, we’re loving the house and the quietude, and I plan to meet some people soon. It’s like the first day of kindergarten. I will sniff them out, track them down and make them like me. Is that too aggressive? I’ll stop short of giving out pennies to anyone who will be my friend.

I dreamed last night that three neighbors came over to our house and sprayed my brother-in-law with a garden hose. H went out to talk to them, and it turned out that they were salesmen. 

Two people besides Penny have knocked on our door. One was collecting for something, and the other one was selling spider/ant/wasp treatments for yards. Because they will already be in the area and treating other yards, he assured us that he’d give us a fabulous price. We resisted his charms. I’ll keep you posted if anyone shows up at the door with homemade goods or a pot of those cascading petunias.

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