Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Please, (don't) be my neighbor...

My in-laws are real salt of the Earth people. They are hard working, nice folks who retired to Florida's East Coast about five years ago.

They own a lovely, lakefront house with a relaxing pool. They are living the dream.

But of course, there is but one, teensy fly in the new Chardonnay.

Their neighbors.

At first, when Mom and Dad moved in, I thought their neighbors were in desperate need of hearing aids, since neither Mr. or Mrs. X would reply to our polite, "Good morning's" or "Good afternoon's." When we would ask Mom and Dad, they would simply shrug and wonder if we had been loud enough. Loud, enough? I'm Cuban, for Cripe's sake! Loud and louder is all the volume choices you get with me.

The X's have the most well maintained landscape south of Disney World. I am not kidding. I have never seen a blade of grass that is too long, a branch that has not been clipped properly. It is an absolute vision.

Mr. X, although retired, works part time. Mrs. X has no outside employment. Pretty typical, right?

Regardless, over time, we found that Mrs. X, in particular, was extremely peculiar. For example, several times when we have gone to visit, we have found Mrs. X laying out in a chaise lounge chair. In her front driveway. In spite of the fact that they also have a lovely pool with deck and an equally breathtaking lakefront home. Did I also mention that she sits there, tanning in a two piece bathing suit, with a small floor fan next to her, to cool her from the intense, cancer inspiring Florida sun?

Even more troubling is Mrs. X's deep seeded obsession with her front lawn and shrubbery. On several occasions, we have witnessed her picking each piece of mulch, inspecting it, rinsing it out in a bucket of water, and carefully repositioning it in her flower bed. Some pieces of mulch don't make the grade, and they are replaced with a seemingly EXACT looking piece of mulch.

Whenever we have asked Mom and Dad about the strange behavior of their neighbors, they will add additional information. For instance, Mr. X, upon returning from his part-time job, will often mow his lawn in the afternoon. Only to be followed by Mrs. X, with gardening shears, to cut wherever the lawn mower has missed. Or, upon his completing the lawn, she will VACUUM the flower beds from the lawn cuttings. Seriously.

The weirdest of all these occurrences I witnessed this weekend when we went to spend the Fourth of July holiday with Mom and Dad. When we arrived, Mr. and Mrs. X were in their front yard, near the spot where they had recently had a tree stump removed. Of course, this called for the repositioning of the flower bed border and the garden step stones that are placed there.

Most of us would just eye-ball it, place the step stones and border, and be done with it.

Not Mrs. X.

The woman was sitting on her favorite chaise lounge chair, directing Mr. X as to the placement of the border. Apparently, he was not doing it the right way.

She got up, with a tape measure in hand, and measured the distance from the edge of the border, to the step stone and the distance between the step stones.

John and I stifled a giggle, and walked into the house, where I related the story to my in laws. We all rolled our eyes, and continued with our afternoon.

The next morning, John and I ran out to complete a couple of errands related to the big unveiling for the boys on Monday. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Mrs. X, with tape measure in hand, in the same spot. Measuring the same exact locations.

Um, weird.

John and I came back a couple of hours later. Mrs. X seemed suspended in some parallel universe, with tape measure in hand.

We left the next morning. Can you guess what Mrs. X was doing?

You gotcha. Same spot, same tape measure.

I got an email from my mother in law this morning, two days later. Mrs. X had moved on from measuring and was now CUTTING the pieces of mulch to fit around the newly (and evenly measured) garden step stones.

I could not stop laughing. Until I thought of how crazy this woman is.

And I wondered what had made her snap into this bikini wearing, sun worshipping, OCD, mulch washing (and cutting) person.

More importantly, I made my point to my dear husband that upon retirement, we should sell our house and move to a condo on the beach.

Where there is no mulch, and no one will look at me funny if I decide to wear a bikini.


  1. Neighbors make life pretty interesting, huh? I'd love to hear more about these folks. They seem strange, but harmless, right?

  2. At least if they were friendly you could talk to them about that obsessiveness! I've been in my neighborhood so long that I had neighbors I spent years rolling my eyes at and now they've been gone years! What seemed like forever also ended eventually, thank goodness.

  3. Definitely a black fly in the Chardonnay. Soooo odd.

  4. LOL..neighbors can either be a blessing or a curse.

  5. OMG! They really need to busy themselves with more activities! She sounds like she has serious OCD but great for people watching! I only wish I had the time to spend measuring like her!


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