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We’ve been living in our townhouse for about 10 months and, despite my misgivings about the size, it’s a perfect fit. The neighbors are interesting, too. Let me introduce a few:

The Vampire Gardener
This guy lives over the fence to the left of my back porch. In early Spring, I was awoken by the weirdest snick-snick sound from outside around midnight and rolled over to look out the window. There in the light of the moon was the Vampire Gardener, pruning his backyard bushes while wearing a bathrobe and sweatpants.

Since then, he’s made two more appearances to garden in the middle of the night. I’ve never seen him when the sun’s up.

Yakusa and His Pitbull
The couple whose back porch is directly behind mine share their home with a pitbull. The guy is covered in tattoos. The dog is named Rambo. The woman rarely speaks. I give the three of them a wide berth.

The Hoarders
Sandwiched in between the vampire gardener and the possible gangbanger are the hoarders. Their yard had the most enormous ficus trees I’d ever seen. One tree had grown over a portion of our shared back fence and provided the perfect shade cover for The Hydrangea That Wouldn’t Die. Earlier this summer, some guys showed up and chopped the ficus trees down while the head hoarder watched.

I thought maybe they were cleaning up the yard in preparation for a makeover or a move. Nope. The removal of the trees not only took away much-needed shade cover, it exposed all the broken plastic storage tubs strewn around their yard. Then they put something lumpy out there and covered it with a huge red tarp.

I don’t even want to know what’s under that tarp.

Creepy Santa
At the end of the block, right by my assigned parking space and the mailboxes, lives a retired man with white hair and a white goatee. He also has a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly, whether he’s laughing or not. One evening in August, I was coming home from a walk while he was leaving in his car. He stopped the car and loudly said to me, “The Arab market has lamb shoulder on sale for $2.99. Do you know how to cook it?”

(Ummm, what? I didn’t even know there was an Arab market nearby. And WTF, dude? I’m female and therefore genetically programmed with all food preparation knowledge?)

I answered, “No, sorry, I’m vegetarian.” Then power-walked my ass home.

A month later, he pounced on me when I went to pick up the mail and I got roped into neighborly chit-chat which included Creepy Santa’s thoughts on custody agreements: “I hold dual citizenship and told my ex that if she didn’t agree to a reasonable financial settlement, I’d take the kids to Peru and she’d never see them again.”

Followed by a dissertation on how much he loves “those scallops wrapped in bacon and a thick steak,” which led to, “Let me take you out to dinner.”

“No, thank you. I’m vegetarian.”

“Oh, you’re that one.”


The Great Walenda

This guy lives next door to Yakusa and Rambo. I met him on Mother’s Day, which he spent standing on the common fence in plastic flip-flops, tearing down a 20 foot tall palm tree with (I kid you not) a Sawsall.

At first, I was worried about his safety, but as the noise-filled day dragged on, I began to root for the palm tree.

I’ve met a few seemingly normal people, and as a bonus, there’s even a Girl Scout right across the street which was handy during Cookie Season. Most of the things I worried about before moving here turned out just fine. But I forgot about the possibility of weirdo neighbors in rather close quarters. At least they’re generally quiet. At night. Mostly.