Clueless in the Cul-de-Sac

Who are these people in my neighborhood? As the official Gladys Kravitz (the nosey next-door neighbor from the classic TV series “Bewitched”) of my hood I’ve been flummoxed by the number of people out and about in the streets that I don’t know.

And while I’ll admit brain fog at remembering some of my neighbors I pride myself that I at least know their dogs and I’m seeing canines I never laid eyes on before. At first I just thought the whole, “Who are these new people?” syndrome I was experiencing was me, you know, just being me.

But, then when my husband who’s not known for being blessed with my keen sense of cul-de-sac observational skills remarked, “Did we get a bunch of new neighbors?” I knew I was on to something. This meant an investigation was called for.

What I discovered was shocking, truly shocking. It turns out I’m an embarrassment to the Gladys Kravitz name. I, a self-proclaimed neighborhood know it all, was woefully clueless. The people forced out into the streets to seek the solace of sunshine during the lock down were not just part of my extended neighborhood but we live on the same street.

This prompted another fact-finding mission. How could I have been so unneighborly as to not, well, know my neighbors? I was raised on Mr. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” Rogers couple that with being from the south where you didn’t just know your neighbors you had a dossier on them should mean I have the training to be a super neighbor.

Oh, and it gets worse. I’ve worked from home for years. My desk overlooks the street. I literally have a bird’s eye view of all the comings and goings. Plus, I walk my dogs daily this means I’m like a beat cop patrolling the neighborhood.

If you want to know who’s doing home improvement, putting in some new landscaping or even getting their chimney cleaned I’m your girl. I also can forecast whose getting their home ready to put on the market by all the above being done to the same house.

So, where was this know your neighbor disconnect? I had to search inward and discovered that while I know houses I don’t know the people that live in them. Not wanting to do anymore self- flagellation I decided it was time assign blame on something other than myself. The culprit, I surmised, for my neighborly failings is the garage door opener.

This invention made us all stealth. You basically never have to see your neighbors. You enter and exit your vehicle from inside the comfort of your closed garage. Back in the day when you physically had to get out of car to open your garage door it was open season for some neighbor-to-neighbor conversation and or as my Grandma Stella liked to call it “cross examination.”

I have memories of this woman, the original Gladys Kravitz, sitting on her front porch and sprinting like a gazelle on the African Savannah chasing its prey when she saw a neighbor pull into their driveway. She said it was for church pray chain inquires but even at the age of eight I knew better.

Although as much as I would like to blame my lack of neighborly inclinations on the garage door opener I can’t. I have to admit that while I’m nosey, ahem, make the graciously curious, about the coming and goings about a house I need to work on getting to know the inhabitants.

Of course, I need to do this without going full Grandma Stella and true confession time that just might be the hardest part.