There has been a shift inthe neighborhood dynamics over the past six or so years. It used to be that my friend Tawna and I ruled the roost. We were the cool moms with the cool crafts and the cool field trips to the cool locations. Okay, mostly it was Tawna, but like any respectable toady, I stood by her side and soaked in the glory. Nothing happened that one or the other of us didn’t know about and we liked it that way. Then Tawna’s husband up and took a huge pay increase and moved the family a few hours north and I was left to my own devices.
Turned out that I wasn’t so dynamic. Like any respectable toady, my light faded when the true power was removed. That was fine. I adjusted back to being who I was B.T. (before Tawna), retreated into my shell, and gradually stopped attending things like Pampered Chef parties, Silpada parties, girls’ nights out, scrapbooking parties, and MOPs events. I still waved to the other mothers as our minivans zipped past each other, but I noticed more and more that their vans were filled with their friends and their children’s friends, while my van remained a Fortress of Solitude. Me and my shadow.
ANYWAY. So. I’ve noticed since Hurricane Ike rolled through here that my neighbor across the street (Carolina) had more or less stopped communicating with me. I didn’t think much of it until this past winter when I learned through the grapevine that they were having a neighborhood open house. An open house we hadn’t been invited to. I stood in my bedroom window watching as neighbor after neighbor filed past their hurricane lamps, stomped the snow off their boots and disappeared inside Carolina’s house.
“I don’t even care,” I told Jack. “It’s probably lame.”
He put his hands on my shoulders and kissed the top of my head. “You hate parties,” he reminded me.
“I don’t even care,” I said again.
Things evened out. I got over the snub, I continued to wave as I drove past them, but I noticed that really Carolina and her husband Brion only waved back to Jack. “Did you see that?” I demanded. “They totally ignored me and focused on being friendly to YOU,” I seethed. He nodded. “It appears they like me better. Which is understandable as I am infinitely more likeable than you,” he said matter-of-factly. I couldn’t argue with that. Jack is more outgoing than I am, funnier, in touch with the human conscious stuff, you know… the better person. “Yeah,” I agreed. “But I’m right here! They had to look through me to see you!”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have called their son gay,” he mused.
I scowled at him. I had no response to that. Except, “Yes, well, that might have crossed a line, but in my defence he was wearing the pink Power Ranger costume. In the front yard. And I was feeling fiesty. And I was in my house. And you laughed when I said it and you agreed. And the only other person I ever said it to was Tawna and she’d never repeat that. So it must have been you! You sold me out! You couldn’t handle my awesomeness and you told Carolina that I said her son looked gay** in his pink Power Ranger costume!!!”
Jack pointed to me. “You’re mean and that’s why people don’t like you. Using gay as a derogatory adjective is wrong.”
“What if I’d meant ‘cheery,’ or ‘bright and pleasant,’ huh? Did you think of that before you sold me out?”
He hugged me. He gets by with a lot when he hugs me. “I didn’t sell you out. Let it go. Not everyone has to like you.”
I sulked, but the incident passed and things seemed to be getting better. I made a concerted effort to engage Carolina in conversation, to talk about how cute and smart her kids were. I inquired as to the health of her aging parents. I was pleasant and nonderogatory, dammit. I thought things were looking up. Her son showed up at my door one day after school and informed me that his mother said I was to drive him to swim practice. Only friends did that, right?
And then… and then… last Friday happened. Last Friday I was awakened from my slumber at the rude hour of 7:50 a.m. by the sound of several car doors slamming. I got out of bed, scratched my bottom and wandered to the window to see what the haps were. Turns out? Carolina and two other moms (one who also lives diagonally to me and the other who lives in Tawna’s house) had organized a garage sale. WHAT THE HELL?! I called Jack.
“You are NOT going to believe this!” I ranted. “They organized a neighborhood garage sale!”
“See if someone’s selling a hedge trimmer. Our’s broke,” he said.
“I WILL NOT!”
“Easy there, Rosie,” he soothed. “What’s the problem?”
“No one invited me to put my stuff out,” I said.
“You loathe garage sales,” he reminded me. “Everytime someone mentions a garage sale, you’re all, ‘I’d rather lick toilets than have a garage sale. People who waste time hosting garage sales are dumb.'”
“My voice is not that high,” I grumbled. “And that’s not the point. And I never said dumb. It’s just polite to invite your across the street neighbor if you’re having a neighborhood garage sale or a party.”
He tried to comfort me, tried to tell me that maybe it was just the three of them who’d gone together, but I knew he was totally bat-shit wrong because sitting there, manning the money box was Holleen and she lives two streets over!!!! Then he got bored with my histrionics and hung up on me. I fumed a few more minutes and called my dad and my BFFs Hollie and Glenda. Hollie and Glenda assured me I was still the bee’s knees. My dad said, “Obviously your neighbors hate you.” Then he started talking about Vegas.
I’ve almost worked through the hurt, but it is kind of a testament that if you insist upon being left alone – make sure it’s what you really want because eventually people will believe you.
**Yes, I know. I’m rude and horrible and offensive.