Many of you have asked me where I live. For all you know we could be neighbors and chances are if there is a middle-aged mom next door that enjoys a 32 ounce Diet Coke and can really rock a Target track pant even while suffering from a debilitating cankle affliction then it’s probably me. Now, just to ensure I’m your neighbor I’m making available this handy guide to my hood. Read it and see if anything rings your doorbell.
Directly across the street is where the Helpfuls live. Every cul-de-sac needs this kind of neighbor. If your outside doing any kind of seasonal chore they always seem to walk out there door to offer assistance. Before you can even get your snow shovel mojo going here comes Mr. Helpful to give you tips on how best to increase your shovel productivity. If your lucky he’ll give you a demonstration that includes some pre shoveling stretching techniques. Thanks, but no thanks on doing snow yoga. I’m not a fan of doing downward facing dog with a shovel. Plus, it gives me a very awkward combo camel toe/snow-pant wedgie. Mrs. Helpful took an on-line course that, according to her now, has her ranked as a Master Gardner. She’s a joy to visit with in the spring and summer. All that yard advice is a godsend. I don’t know how we managed to mow a lawn or grab a rack before she came into our lives. She is so tenacious in her yard zeal that even when we’re wearing ear protection (to protect us from the mower, I assure you, not to block out Mrs. Helpful’s charming weed and feed diatribe) she still insists on talking to us.
I’m most grateful for the Helpfuls advice on how to raise my children. I don’t know why, but it seems the people who have never had kids seem to have a prodigious supply of parenting tips. Maybe it’s because they have all that free time. It’s not like I return the favor and say, “Hey, since you seem to have an almost stalkerish interest in my children here’s some suggestions on how to get your own baby making machine working. The secret is sex while standing on your head. Don’t be ashamed if one of you has to use the wall for balance. Not every couple has the stamina for upside down reproduction. I will say it gives the sperm an Olympic bobsled run to the promise land.” See, I’ve can be nice. I’ve kept my mouth shut. I have though suggested on numerous occasions that they take their sharing spirit and do some volunteer work. But, no the Helpfuls confided in me that they “don’t much like strangers.” Hmm, I wonder why?
Catty cornered from me is where the Doctors Scrubs live. Mr. Dr. Scrub has never been seen in anything but green or blue surgical scrubs. Now, I know you’re thinking a woman who lives in the aforementioned track pants shouldn’t throw stones, but I do, on occasion, wear a pant that requires a zipper. The thing is that Mr. Dr. Scrub is a radiologist. He doesn’t perform surgery and according to his son, who is at my house so much he writes down what snacks he likes on my grocery list (Cheese Nips, in case you were wondering), his dad works most days from home reading x-rays etc from his computer. I’m not saying radiologists aren’t amazing and don’t save countless lives I’m just asking the question does this man or any physician need to wear their scrubs to a 7 p.m. Tuesday night, 4th grade choir performance or to a 3 p.m. Saturday soccer game?
Mr. Dr. Scrub is married to a pharmacist who works at one of the local grocery stores. She also always wear scrubs. Her scrubs are a little more fashion forward. Brace yourself, because Mrs. Dr. Scrub wears capris. Yes indeed, that’s right, capri scrubs. I inquired about her unique scrub look and she enthusiastically blabbed that she “cuts” her scrubs herself and then uses iron on sewing adhesive to make this one-of-a-kind scrub statement. She also wears, God, I’m having trouble getting this out, but here goes . . . capri scrubs and Uggs. It looks as bad as it sounds, most especially when she wears her “low” Uggs so you get a Ugg, half a calf, scrub look. Most unsettling, I assure you. I desperately want to knock on their door and say, “I get it, we all get it, you Mr. Dr. Scrub are a M.D. and you, Mrs. Dr. Scrub have Master of Science in pharmacology. You are well-educated people who save lives. You also make a decent living now go buy yourself some freaking pants.
Behind me and a little off to the side of my house is where the Super Family resides. Oh, how I live to mess with their perfect little word. This family of two excessively pompous parents and three “amazing” kids stands for everything I’m against. Let’s start with those annoying children. A lot of you aren’t going to like this and I know I’ll receive some backlash when I say it, but my kids, totally NOT amazing. Yes, I love and adore my children with a fierceness that probably merits a 12 step program. But, my kids, while exceptional to me, are not qualified for the amazing classification category. Why? Because in my book having an amazing kid means they can swim underwater for 30 minutes without surfacing for air or have the ability to fly without the aid of a jet pack or commercial airliner. My kids, a big no can do on all of that because they’re just kids. Normal (kind of), healthy (thank you God), funny (again, thank you God) kids.
I’m suffering from a terminal case of EPBF – Extreme Parental Boasting Fatigue brought on by moms and dads thinking their children are extraordinary to not just them (because that’s a given) but to everyone. It’s one thing to have parental pride of ownership, it’s another thing to think that your child is the most amazing creature to every chew and sallow their own food. To all you delusional, hyper competitive parents out there calm down, pop a Xanex and chase it with a gallon box on Frenzia chablais.
Which now brings me back to the Super Family neighbors. They truly believe, with all their heart and tiny, misguided brains, that their 3 (very average) children (ages 13, 15 & 16) are superior to all intergalactic life forms. Two of the ways they show this to the world is with yard signs and banners. Yes, when boasting on Facebook is not enough, by all means litter the neighborhood with signage. Different public and private schools fundraise with yards signs. The more crap your kid is involved in the more yard signs that clutter your lawn. For as little as $200, you too, can buy a yard sign that says your kid is on the volleyball team. For an additional fee you can purchase sign accessories with things like guitar club, performing arts etc. My neighbors have about 2 dozen of these signs in their yard. Too add to their glory they also attach banners to their corner lot fence to share, with the world at large, just how incredible their children are. Today there’s a banner that says, “Congratulations Kelsey, Kaleb and Kacey on an awesome 2011! 2012 get ready for Kendell Kids. The best of the past, perfect in the present and the hope of the future!!!”
Please tell me that you just vomited in your mouth a little bit? To say these signs and banners bring me joy would be an understatement. Every time I new one goes up I get a surge of pure adrenaline that brings on an evil impulse. Sometimes I manage to have superior impulse control, other times – not so much. I have though pretty much managed to make their yard signs insignificant.
This happened in September when I went on a faux yard sign rampage. You’ve got that right, I made up fake yard signs. 26 of them to be exact. It was so simple, I’m ashamed of myself for not thinking of it earlier. All it took was my son to use his computer skills and duplicate the high school logo, add a bunch of made up b.s., take them to Kinkos, have them printed on card stock and then staple gun each “sign” to a stake purchased from Lowe’s. Sure, it cost some money and I had to delay getting my hair highlighted for a month to fund my evil, but it was so worth it. The most enjoyable part was thinking up the bogus stuff to put on the yard signs. These were my favorites (I would be remiss not to give a shout out to my kids for helping think of all the captions): In the high school yard sign division: First Place – Most Tardies, Best Freshman Year Biped Mammal, Clean Locker Club, National Society of Halo Gamers, Class of 2014 Attendee.
I also threw in some other signs. Ones that were more related to the parents who also had signage about their accomplishments, especially running marathons. Every time they completed a marathon a new sign proclaiming 26.2 went in their yard with the location of where they ran the marathon. Well, game on neighbors because I had my own 26.2 experiences. For sure, mine didn’t mean I had run 26.2 miles, but I’ve lived a long life of 26.2. For example, 26.2 could mean the number of pounds I need to lose, or the 26.2 sleeves of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies I could eat in a 26.2 hour period.
I waited and stuck the signs in my yard when my husband would be going out-of-town for three days. Like I needed his throat clearing, disapproval act. On the outside he’s all “God, really? This is all so immature. Why do you care?” But, I know on the inside he’s all, “You go crazy wife of mine. You go!” I put my signs in the yard late at night, so when the Super Family went running at 5:30 the next morning they would be greeted by my yard “art.” I even set my alarm and perched in the upstairs window so I could watch them explore my lawn. Here’s how it played out: I could see them jogging. They run by. Their heads do a whiplash move. They come to a screeching halt, walk into my yard and began checking out all my signs. I can see their agitation and by that I mean they are visibly pissed off. Waves of thrilling happiness surge through my body as I witness this. Friends, I had a revenge orgasm.
Fast forward three hours later and my doorbell rings. It’s Mrs. Super Family. She’s come to comment on my signage. The Mrs. is most especially riled up, of course, about the 26.2 signs. Now, when I say riled up I mean she is behaving with a veneer of politeness. This is the suburbs, after all, and she is an Escalday. But I can tell it’s killing her. Her body language is saying, “I want to strangle you with my Adidas mesh crotch running thong.”
She comes into my house and says, “What’s up with all your new signs?”
I act confused and bewildered and respond in a tone that says I’m a sweet as Texas tea at a the Lions Club BBQ. Which means I give it right back to her with; “You have a problem with my signs? You have signs in your yard?”
Mrs. Super Family fires back, ‘Well, my signs are what I would call legitimate. Yours seem to all made up.”
“Really?” I say, acting concerned, “Show me a sign out there that’s not true.”
“Oh, that’s easy. When do you ever run a marathon?”
As she’s saying this she’s giving my less than marathon body the once over. It didn’t help that as she doing this I was eating a cookie. Hey, it was oatmeal, so I’m giving myself points for a fiber rich snack.
I was more than ready for this line of questioning. As we all know, I’m no amateur. I sucked in my gut as best I could which meant one roll of flab receded, but the secondary roll remained at full sag, stood up straight and said. “Oh, I’ve run a marathon. A marathon of faith. While your 26.2 worships the miles you’ve run. My 26.2 worships the good book. Isaiah 26.2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.”
Bam! You don’t go to Baylor for 4 years and have to suffer through Old and New Testament religion classes (which were incredibly difficult by the way) and something called Forum every Wednesday and not come out with some mad bible verse skills. Don’t try to out church me people. You will fail!
This, as I predicted, shut her down. She stammered and yet attempted to compliment herself all at the same time with, “Oh, sorry. I didn’t even think of that. You know as an elite runner I see 26.2 and think marathon”
“Well, (insert me sighing and doing my best impersonation of my mother) not everything is all about you, is it? Now, I hate to rush off, but I was just on my way to bible study (and of course, for me, bible study just happens to be Target, but is that any of her business? No.) and need to go tidy up a bit before I leave.”
She sulked out of my house and I ate another (okay 3) oatmeal cookie to celebrate my victory.
I’ve reached the point in my story where some of you are dying to go over to the comment section and leave a pithy remark on how if you lived in my neighborhood you’d would have moved after the first week. The thing is I rather like my neighborhood and I do have some very nice neighbors. But, do you really want to hear about the great neighbors I have? The woman two doors down that makes THE best blueberry banana nut bread or the wonderful couple at the end of the cul-de-sac who love to babysit my dogs. I’m thinking no. So, let’s continue on shall we? I have one more neighbor to share with you. The Scaredy Cat/Scentsy Family that from now on I will refer to as the SCSF.
You know how some people have those plaques hanging outside their homes that commemorate when they got married, like the Brown Family established 1990. The SCSF’s should have a plaque that reads Being Afraid and Smelling Good since 1996. Mrs. SCSF has three children (one boy 15 and two girls 12 & 8) and lives in constant fear that everyone and everything is out to get them. She’s afraid of schools, public pools, malls, Santa Claus, UV rays, anyone driving her kids somewhere except for her, Halloween, the food chain and she makes her five foot tall, I’m guessing well over 80 pounds, 12-year-old still ride in a booster seat. When her 15-year-old son goes outside to shoot hoops she sits on her front porch and watches. Bonus, she puts “Kids at Play” cones out for him. She’s convinced any worker with a landscape crew is a pedophile that has targeted her children. Ditto for any UPS or Fed X employee. She lets her children have friends over, but she never lets her kids go to someone else’s house. The problem is, of course, no kid wants to come over. It’s not that they don’t have awesome toys. A spare bedroom has been turned into an American Girl paradise with tons of dolls and accessories. It’s just that Mrs. SCSF it a little OCD about the children messing up anything. So, you go in the room to look, but not to play. They even take their Legos and sort them by shape, color, and theme and then put them into labeled fishing tackle boxes. My daughter calls it the house where toys go to die.
The one good thing about the SCSF is that their house is an olfactory extravaganza. Mrs. SCSF, when not busy home-schooling and protecting her flock, is all about her family’s “Scent Story.” One day when taking over a package that Fed X left at my house because she won’t open her door to anyone she doesn’t have a “personal relationship” with I got a strong whiff of a special kind of insanity. It began with me having to take off my shoes while standing on her front porch and then when I crossed the threshold of her home I was welcomed in with an antibacterial hand gel ritual and before I was allowed to meander past her foyer. While I was “washing” my hands I noticed that the SCSF’s house smelled amazing. I commented on this and that’s when she shared her home’s “Scent Story.” I was taken on a tour of the “story.” We went room from room as she did a scent selection commentary. It went something like this: “Now my living room has a fig scent to compliment the dining room’s vanilla lavender smell. As we step into the hall notice that it smells like apples which accents the vanilla of the dining room and yet doesn’t compete with the fig.” It took all I had not to reply, “Lady, all I’m smelling is crazy.”
Funny thing, after the Scent Story tour Mrs. SCSF really took a shine to me. My daughter and I were always being invited over. I would politely make up excuses, but you know how that works every so often you’d have to just give in and go. It was a dreadful way to spend an hour. All she wanted to talk about was perceived security threats to her children and her personal scent story. Truly, she had found her life’s passion. Just when I thought I would have to start hiding from her my 10-year-old did something that made me proud enough to craft a yard sign in her honor. Some parents have a Student of the Month or a kid who gets a perfect SAT score. I have something even better – a mini-me. My daughter asked Mrs. SCSF if there was anyway she could spend the night at their house some day soon because our house had bed bugs and she itched all the time. I believe her exact words were, “It would be so nice to go to sleep and not wake up scratching, scratching, scratching!”
Upon hearing this Mrs. SCSF attempted to swallow a scream so it came it out like a huge burp hiccup. She then with rapid speed herded us out of her house like we were ground zero for the ebola virus. That was three months ago and we haven’t heard or really even seen any member of the SCSF since that fateful day.
So, after reading all this what do you think – are we neighbors?
*Alert readers will notice that I didn’t mention some of my neighbors like Barbara Grey (A Very Snarky Christmas) or the Bible Bunko hostess. I figured you had heard enough about these women (for now). Many thanks for all of you who “liked” me on Facebook! May the Snark Be With You. For those that haven’t done the deed yet to stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link - http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs. Oh and while you’re at it go ahead and share my link with friends. Cheers!