Monday, August 31, 2009

Urban Jungle

This is what my next-door neighbor's yard looks like.

This is the view from my deck. It's an urban jungle. The weeds covering the backyard are literally six feet tall. See the grape vines that seem to be covering a building? They are. They completely blanket the coach house and have crept over the fence and started making themselves at home on my garage. They are tightwalking across the phone wires from the coach house to the main house.

God only knows what animals are moving into his yard and building condos and having babies. Raccoons, possums, rats, squirrels, bears, lemurs, meerkats?

The owner used to live in the coach house and rent out the house that's attached to the deck on the right side of the photo; but both have been vacant for about two months. He made it impossible for the tenants to continue to live there. I heard both sides of the story, as well as the prior tenants' similar story; and I'm inclined to believe the tenants.

Their side: he didn't pay the water bill, and their water got shut off. Twice. (I know this is true because they asked to use my shower. It also happened to the prior tenants.) They paid his past-due water bills in order to get the water turned back on.

His side: He always told me what terrible tenants they were, but never gave me specifics. After they moved out, he told me he had to spend $3,000 to repair walls and doors and other things. They "trashed the place," he said. (I was in the home many times while they lived there, and every time the home was spotlessly clean and neat, with no visible damage anywhere.)

Anyway, back to the back yard. So I saw him--or rather, I heard him moving around behind the wall of grape leaves on his tiny coach house deck.

"Hey, JungleDude," I called through the vines. "Is that you?"

He popped his head through the labyrinth. "Hey, E. Peevie!" he said cheerfully. "Long time no see!"

"Yeah, Dude," I said. "What are you going to do about that jungle?" He assured me that he had a guy coming in at any moment to give him a quote on hacking down the nature preserve and doing regular maintenance. And, he said, he had a prospective renter coming by to look at the house.

"She's a teacher at the high school," he said. "And she's Caucasian!" he added happily.

I looked at him. I blinked.

"Whut?" he said defensively, "I'm allowed to like my own kind!" Then he non sequitured, "I like myself! I'm allowed to like myself."

I looked at him. I blinked.

"Hey, my best friend is Mexican!" he said. "But I'm also allowed to be happy to get a white renter."

"Well," I said, irritated. "It doesn't matter to me whether your renter is white or not."

"It's starting to matter to me," he said, officially breaking the law. "I'm just sayin'."

"Look," I should have said, but in the interests of keeping things neighborly, I didn't, "shut your racist trap about your Caucasian renter, and just get somebody out here to get this jungle under control!"

I find it ironic that he has no qualms about putting his offensive opinions about racial preferences and prejudices out there, and neither does he make any apologies for keeping his property in a nasty, unrentable condition. Like, he's so much better than those non-white people--but meanwhile, I'm living next door to an abandoned property.

If he's going to discriminate, shouldn't he at least make an attempt, at least superficially, to appear to be a better neighbor than the people that he's trying to keep out? I suppose perhaps his brain is so clogged up with rationalizing and other-bashing that he doesn't have the mental energy to appreciate the irony.

But I do. I appreciate irony. And for that, JungleDude, I thank you.


Anonymous said...

shall we make a bet if it is cleaned before or after those veggie/vine thingys produce some produce??

E. Peevie said...

Ha! Funny. I just went over and photographed the produce that the vine thingys are producing. I think it's a watermelon plan. Seriously.

There's actually a tiny watermelon or gourd or something on one of the vines. Too small to tell what it is yet. Perhaps I'll do some googling to try to find out.