Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Neighborly Gesture...

Over the past few months I've given some thought to the fact that I don't really know my neighbors. I think about it when I see them in the parking lot, and we don't really speak. I also think about it when I'm in the middle of baking something and realize I need a half cup of flour and am out and have to drive to the grocery store instead of calling someone/knocking on his door.

I made friends with one guy who is a mechanic/rapper, and of course, when he found out I was a lawyer, I got to try my hand at reviewing a recording contract. I've also made friends with a little boy (Antonio) who lives in the complex and often bounces a ball in the parking lot out of sheer boredom. I've played tennis with him a few times and lent him my rackets, and I jumped his mother's car off one morning. But sadly that has been the extent of my neighborly relations until recently.

So last week Antonio knocked on my door at around 7:00. I answered, and he asked about my Christmas. We chatted in the doorway for a minute; he was obviously bored as he'd been home all day alone while his mom was at work. Antonio was acting a bit funny and kept glancing out in the parking lot. It was a bit strange, and it was cold.

He came back and knocked again a few minutes later. He wanted to know if I'd watch a movie with him. I explained that I had work to do but offered to lend him a DVD. The closest thing to a children's movie I have is Big Fish, so he passed. I offered him food to take back to his apartment, but he passed. To be honest, I didn't like him being in my apartment. He's not as big as me, but I'm just a little wary. And he was still acting weird and not making eye contact. I asked him why he wouldn't look at me, wondering if maybe something was really wrong and he needed to confide in someone (my mom is, by the way, a school counselor). He maintained that everything was fine. I told him that maybe I could take him to the movies sometime if that was alright with his mother. It's obvious he is left alone a lot, so I thought that might be a welcomed change of pace. We made plans for this week. Oh, after I had invited him, I learned that he was 12, which was surprising to me as I had thought he was around 9 or 10.

Well a few minutes later, he knocked at the door again. This time he leaned in my doorway and asks for a kiss on his cheek. I was shocked. I told him "No. But you can have a hug" and gave him one of those side hugs.

Yuck. What I thought was would a fun nice outing is now ruined. So I've got to call his mom/him tonight to cancel since he obviously has the wrong idea, and our plans now seem inappropriate.

So tonight when I approach my door, I see a note. It reads:

"Hey neighbor,
Do you need some help getting your Christmas tree downstairs? Just a thought:)
Your neighbors in 101 (Fred & Ethel)"

I thought this was pretty funny. Is this a nice way of telling me that it's too late to still have a Christmas tree up? Greenlineboy, this may be my answer to your query. And/or it's a way for us to finally meet. Cindy has never seemed friendly and looks to a little younger than me, and I've only noticed Zach once. I figure we must have different schedules, but it still bothers me that I haven't been a good neighbor and introduced myself or brought cookies by or something. As much as I'm gone, I don't even know when they moved in though.

As for why my tree is still up: as you may know, I finally gave in a few years ago and began using a fake tree. It's pretty big, and since I live in a one bedroom apartment, I have no place to put it if I take it down. It's so big that even if I put it behind my huge living room chair (the only free space), you can see it. So I've left it up a little longer than normal (but never past January) the past year or two until I head home--where I can leave it at my dad's house (i.e. my storage facility; he could write a few blogs about that). I've asked my ex (Sampras) to let me keep it in his large out building, but he's will have none of it. So for now, the tree is still up and likely will be until the weekend of the 14th. Hopefully that weekend some of my family will come down for my baptism, and perhaps I can send at least part of the tree back with them:)

So...should I write them back a quick note explaining the above (more condensed version, of course)? Or wait until tomorrow after work and knock and introduce myself? Or try to make some cookies or something and put them in a tin with a note in front of their door? I feel like this might be my opportunity to be a better neighbor (especially if they are new to Macon and don't know anyone), so any suggestions are welcome.

p.s. I'm not totally ignoring NYE; just haven't wrapped my head all the way around it and what I want to write; yet another time I've wished this was anonymous.


Ella said...

In regards to Fred & Ethel, I would want to introduce myself in person. If they aren't home, then maybe you can go with the cookie/note route. I wonder if they have something against Christmas trees being up past New Years?

GreenLineBoy said...

It sounds to me like an opportunity to meet your neighbors. If that wasn't already their intent. I think cookies would be sweet. I'd stop by with some, thank them for the offer, explain and say you should all get together sometime.

If it weren't the South I'd say they have an agenda. Like they don't like where you park your car or they want you to keep the noise down or something. But that's just the skeptical city boy in me.

Aaron said...

Funny thing about neighbors... I know who my neighbors are and see most of them throughout the week. Usually enough to wave, exchange some pleasantries, etc. The neighbor(s) on either side of me are pretty friendly and I've chatted with either for an hour or so on end while standing in the front yard. The guy across the street I never see, ever. Those neighbors are our age, so that's cool. The older neighbors are just as friendly, they just won't let me talk their ear off. :)

I knew you were flirtatious, but a twelve year old? I had no idea! :P

Leave a note on Fred/Ethel's door informing them that it's a fake tree, and if they have room for it in a closet, you'd be happy to take them up on their offer!

allbilly said...

Maybe you misread the boys intentions. Maybe his mother gives him kisses on the cheek and because of her alcoholism and the holdiday she is super depressed and he gets no love at home. I think you should talk to his mom before you jump to any conclusions.

As far as other neighbors go, I think anything beyond pleasantries is a person by person decision. I think if you see they need help or something you offer, but otherwise leave well enough alone.

Jeff Price said...

Don't worry so much about your 12 year old neighbor's crush...worry in 5 years when it doesn't go away!

Did I miss something...how do they know your tree is still up? Sounds like it was just a friendly gesture and I'm sure they would love getting to know you. Go for the meet & greet...save the tree explanation.

Btw, looks like things got complicated on NYE.

Accidentally Me said...

The twelve-year old things is actually sort of sad:-( Sounds like he is just a really lonely kid. Hopefully, once you explain it to his mom, things will be fine.

And for knowing neighbors, I am all for it. We live in a building with three other units, and we met them all the first day we moved in. In our old building next door, the little old lady down the hall used to watch Munchkin sometimes and she baked for us regularly:-)

Ally said...

Ella: I think I'm going to go with your approach. It would be nice to speak in person rather than just exchange notes. I just wish I was home sometimes during daylight hours to make that more of a possibility (and a safe possibility--I'm a bit paranoid of knocking on someone's door at night).

GLB: I was talking to a friend when I got the note last night, and his first reaction is that the situation was sketchy. And to be honest, I don't want two strangers in my apartment. That may seem silly; maybe I've read too many true crime books.

Aaron: If I wrote that about the closet, I'm sure they'd wish they had never attempted the nice gesture:) As for the 12 year old, sometimes I do feel like I'm too nice--and often to people who not than many people (sadly) are nice to.

Ally said...

Billy: I'll never know exactly what Antonio was thinking when he knocked on my door the third time and asked for a kiss, but from talking to my mother (who works with children), that is, in her opinion, a VERY forward action and quite age inappropriate. My mom advised me to not be alone with him, and I think that's good advice since I can't know for sure what he's thinking (i.e, he just wants affection and is lonely; has a crush on me, etc.). I will of course continue to be nice to him though. I called Antonio's mom last night, and she didn't shed any light on the situation. She didn't act surprised by him asking for a kiss and seemed more afraid that I would have been embarassed by it. Regardless I don't like him knocking on my door when it's dark outside, simply because I can't really see who is at the door and am a 'fraidy cat when it comes to opening my door at night.

Ally said...

Jeff: NYE just didn't go down exactly like I expected but not because of Ozzy. My neighbors know the tree is still up because you can see it through my window; my window is visible from the parking lot.

AM: Yes, I agree that Antonio's situation is sad. Sitting around all day during the holidays alone has to be boring, although I realize his mom has to work. That's why I've tried taking up some time with him here and there. Perhaps I'll do something with him sometime when a friend of mine can join us. I'm glad you've had such good neighbors.

e.b. said...

I say a small baked good, someone above said cookies, would work. That and a quick intro, maybe a joke about the tree. Do they need to know everything? At least until you become true friends....if ever. Maybe I am a cynic - but I dislike my neighbors and wouldn't invite them in either.

Can't wait to hear about the weekend.

S.J.S. said...

I live in an apartment complex as well, and I do not know a single one of my neighbors. I think you should introduce yourself to them. If it goes poorly, at least you know you made the effort. If it goes well, maybe you have some new friends (or at least some new acquaintances for when you need a cup of flour.) As for the Antonio situation, that is crazy!

Anonymous said...

You know...some people have 2 blogs. One that is open and one that is anonymous...hint hint.

Make cookies---neighbors love cookies!! Or at least I would if you lived next to me. lol

Ally said...

S.J.S.: Welcome!! I'm glad you're finally commenting:) And I like your positive take on the neighbor situation. I knocked tonight when I got home, but I didn't get an answer. They were obviously there (lights, noise), but they might not have heard me.

FC&F: I've given that some thought...we'll see:)

Aaron said...

...but if FC&F actually knew about the anonymous blog, then it wouldn't exactly be anonymous anymore, would it?