Casual

Labash, Neighborly Matt

Casual THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD I've never had much use for neighbors. You can't live with them. You can't smother them with chloroform and feed them through a wood-chipper when you tire of...

...A sculpted, athletic specimen, Levi stays toned by swimming, formerly in the Dingleberrys' pool...
...Several years my senior, Budo commandeered our playground for smoke breaks while hitting on our sisters...
...Some years later, that resolve was tested...
...The Hippies rode motorcycles through their living room, and egged the house of a nearby Holocaust survivor...
...It's not that I minded their yappy mutt, Dakota, breaking loose and mauling our other neighbor's Chihuahuas...
...I was livid...
...They won't for long...
...Neither were they pleased with Levi's hunting, as the quarry he stalked included everything from gardening tools to UPS packages to pool noodles to children's shoes...
...They bought my newborn son effeminate mittens...
...Then we got a new dog, and new next-door neighbors...
...The nerve-rattling jolt had caused me to spot my Toughskins...
...She said there'd been an anonymous complaint about our barking dog, and that if we didn't get it under control, we'd end up in court...
...Subsequently, I vowed that no neighbor would ever again prompt me to wet myself...
...Tensions, however, quickly escalated...
...After an uneventful early adulthood, I thought I had the neighbor problem licked...
...If you could, I would've done so to the stringy-haired druggies I lived next to as a tyke...
...When Budo found out, he stomped the Sarge like a junebug...
...We started off cordial...
...With my jungle-cat reflexes, I made it back whole...
...The other day, I heard terrible yelping coming from their yard...
...Our dog is a lab named Levi, and we call him the Yellow Bastard (he's yellow, and acts like a bastard...
...The Dingleberrys could complain that Levi used their pool cover for a slip'n'slide...
...But Levi barks less than Madge, whose honking voice has the timbre of a broken foghorn...
...The Dingleberrys still wave, nervously, as if I don't know of their betrayal...
...MATT LABASH...
...they cackled, unleashing their attack-dog German shepherd...
...Nor did I mind their loud pool parties, where mother Madge entertained in a festive floral one-piece...
...My military family had been stationed in Germany, where I had it goodówide open spaces, tasty strudel, lots of nudity on German television...
...The rest of our platoon spent the next several weeks playing indoors...
...Instead, I settled on the Happy Homeowner's neutron bomb: not waving...
...Our neighbors are the Dingleberrys (names have been changed), and what we call them is unprintable...
...A few months ago, we received a visit from an Animal Control officer with a nasty bearing and a prison-warden perm...
...What riled me was that they'd moved to Calvert County, Maryland, a bucolic stretch of rolling pastures and tobacco barns where everybody besides the Dingleberrys appreciates the long-established don't-fence-me-in ethos...
...The neighbors weren't happy...
...I've always felt that a generally well-behaved dog should be allowed to roam, though, strictly speaking, "well-behaved" might not apply to Levi...
...Instead, I addressed my one request to Directory Assistance: "May I have the number for Animal Control...
...Like many neighbors, we pretended to be interested in each other's lives...
...But that wasn't good enough...
...Once, when my frisbee sailed into their yard, I jumped the fence, only to find them waiting in ambush...
...They obviously feel guilty...
...I returned home brimming with joy...
...I rushed over, to find a new black lab puppy...
...They weren't of the peace-loving, Wavy-Gravy variety, either...
...You can't smother them with chloroform and feed them through a wood-chipper when you tire of them...
...Sometimes he just rested half-immersed on the pool steps, alone with his thoughts...
...Perhaps I'd loosen a lug-nut on their daughter's Razor scooter...
...Things went swimmingly, until Ricky, my first sergeant, grew overzealous and vandalized the shack...
...Get him, Max...
...We took over a wel-come-to-the-neighborhood brownies plate...
...Immediately, I plotted revenge...
...We were not about to lose our women, so I led a strike force of military brats to occupy Budo's secret love shack in the woods...
...For the next eight hours, it sounded off like a squeaky fan belt, but I wasn't going to ask the Dingle-berrys to buy an anti-bark collar or to keep their puppy indoors...
...We ended up containing Levi, letting him out only for occasional runs...
...I thought about slugging it out in their driveway, but figured after I drilled Madge with a few overhand rights, she'd likely run off and tell her husband...
...He didn't always do laps...
...But my psyche was compromised...
...Or maybe drop Levi's food in her Halloween bucket, getting the last laugh when she showed up for school with strong teeth and a lustrous coat...
...There was just one problem: Budo the Teutonic Brute...
...My parents called them "The Hippies," though it was well past the hippie era...

Vol. 6 • March 2001 • No. 26


 
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