It was 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning when the misery started. The
Sundays leading up to this one were agreeable and serene - dull, even.
Then it happened.
"What in God's name is that horrid noise?" I yelped, slipping into my
bathrobe and slippers, and heading for the front door. "It sounds like
a swarm of colossal killer bees!"
I opened the front door and was immediately horror-struck at what I saw
Across the street stood my frenzied neighbor, Mr. Peterson, whacking
his weeds into a state of oblivion. The sounds coming out of this weed
punisher were enough to cause my toes nails to crack. His ears,
(muffled with the latest high-tech, protective head-gear), prevented
him from hearing my outrage at his rude behavior on a - usually -
tranquil Sunday morning.
"Oh, my God!" I shouted. "It's spring! The yard-working tribes have
come out of their caves!"
The words scarcely slipped off my disgusted tongue when I was
sidetracked by a disturbance to my left. I turned just in time to see
another neighbor, Mrs. Shankle, tormenting her hedges with a loud and
crude hedge-cutting device. Mrs. Shankle braved the noise with an ample
supply of all-purpose cotton balls in both her ears. She, too, was
oblivious to my cries.
"Damn you all and your manicuring machines from hell!" I wailed.
"Give it up, McDonough!" Mr. Fodder, my neighbor to the right, yelled.
Mr. Fodder turned off the power on his favored instrument of anguish:
the Riding Lawn Mower, and headed my way. "You're a disgrace to the
neighborhood," he went on. "When was the last time you took a rake to
this lawn of yours?"
I paused and checked my surroundings. It wasn't as bad as he made it
sound. I did have every good intention of removing last year's fallen
leaves - as well as the leaves from the year before that. I was merely
waiting till I got rid of the dozen or so spare tires that were
tastefully strewn amid the delightful dandelions and courageous
"And when do you plan to rid the neighborhood of that?" said Mr.
Fodder, pointing a finger at the beautiful old Westinghouse,
self-cleaning, pre 1960's, four-burner, paisley colored oven that was
sitting majestically among my rhododendrons.
"Well, geez," I said. "I've been meaning to find a proper place for
that old beauty. It's a classic, you know."
"It's an assault on the eyeballs," said Mrs. Shankle. "As is that!" she
continued, pointing her chubby little finger at the hood ornaments that
were dangling elegantly from my wispy, weeping willow tree.
"I'm afraid they haven't sold as quickly as I had thought" I mused.
"There's no accounting for taste, I suppose."
Across the street, my neighbor, the weed-whacking Mr. Peterson, turned
his attention to the commotion that was going on in my front yard and
headed our way.
"Listen here, McDonough," he started, "if you agree to clean up the
eye-sore that is your front yard, we'll promise not to burn down your
I took several moments to reflect. Then Mrs. Shankle revved up her high
horse-powered hedge-tormentors, and I noticed that her one good eye was
definitely on my long and silvery locks.
That evening I sat on my front porch and ran a critical eye over my
refurbished front yard. Gone were the decorative spare-tires and
statuesque kitchen appliances. Gone were the amusing hubcaps and the
stuffed Guernsey cow I had named Oscar. And gone, in a deeper sense,
was the soul and collective sum of my life.
But at least my house was still standing, and I now had a brand new box
of all-purpose cotton balls (given me by the convincing and muscular
Mrs. Shankle), to protect my ears from the slaughter of the
Life is a compromise.
Then you paint your house flaming pink and start the ball rolling