Since we moved in, we have had a great relationship with the neighbors on two sides of our property; the third, however, has always made us a little wary. Let's just say that the owners aren't the usual Takoma Park type. By that, I mean that the house has had several cars in the front lawn since we moved in, the yard has NEVER been kept up well and we once saw a bleach-blonde woman wearing high heels and a towel go out to her car. (Walking in a towel to the car is very Takoma Park, I think. Doing so with high heels is what makes it not so much.) The spring after we first moved in, we saw the owner drive up while Ange and I were out in the front yard. I thought I'd be friendly and meandered over to say hi -- and before I got there, the man got out of the car, pulled out his tween-age son and smacked him across the face, yelling, "Don't EVER touch my shit!" Making a mental note not to ever let them look after our kid if we ever had one, I retreated and kept my distance.
Since then, that side of the house has been a source of amusement between Angela and me. (See above story with the high heels, for one, which we both witnessed, dumbfounded, while having lunch.) We learned the name of the boy from his being yelled at several times. When I grew up, we had a neighbor who I was always warned against and I jokingly parlayed this scenario to Angela when Xan was born, saying, "You know, when Xan grows up, we're going to have to tell him not to buy drugs off XX next door." Given that we never really engaged in much conversation with anyone over there, various events would inspire resigned amusement. "Oh, look, there's another car in the front yard. They're up to six!" "Hmm, I wonder what the cops are doing there knocking on their door." "Gee, I guess they don't realize that fireworks are illegal in Montgomery County. And that it's not the 4th of July; in fact, it's February." Thinking that it was better to resign ourselves to this, we never complained -- mainly because if they were really nuts or something, we didn't want retribution. After all, we have a two-year-old.
At the park yesterday, however, I ran into G, the half of the gay couple that lives on the corner by the park who befriended me a while back when we were waiting for a bus. We shared stories about disappointing problems from our neighbors: he told me about a neighbor who wouldn't cut his grass except for once in the summer when he would scythe it; I told him about Mr. Six-Cars-in-the-Front-Yard. And I mentioned that something must be happening, because we hadn't seen the guy in a while, but the blonde and the boy were dragging nine million bags of everything to the curb at all times during the week, as if they were cleaning out or something. He suggested we talk to someone about this, that there had to be an ordinance, and that he would go with me. I said, sure -- in fact, Xan's daycare is right next door to the area representative for the City of Takoma Park.
I wasn't expecting C, the district rep, to come up and introduce herself to me and Angela as I got home from work.
We should have been careful about what we joked about.
Without going into really gory details (and to be euphemistic), it appears that everything involved with that house is going to hell in a handbasket. That the reason we haven't seen the man indeed is because he's been put away for a while. That the woman we've been seeing has issues of her own. That the house itself is in probate and might be taken away by the city soon. That the house (which C actually went in the other day) is in such a disastrous shape anyway that if and when it would be sold, it would have to be torn down. (And given what's happening over in laloca-land, I'm not sure I'm thrilled by the looming prospect of living next door to construction -- though at least trucks in the driveway would then serve a purpose: as a source of endless amusement for my vehicle-obsessed son, of course. "Beep beep trucks go backwards!") Things will certainly liven up on the other side of our fence.
I'm just stunned at how blissfully ignorant I have been. At least I can live with the comfort that the Department of Justice of the United States is safely in the hands of someone honorable and decent.