Thursday, August 28, 2008













"Foreclosed Without Purchase"


It was the yapping that yanked me to consciousness.

Bad doggie woke me.

Curse the bad doggie.

But what doggie? All previous yappers had met their fate as Main Ingredient in Jocelyn’s Yippy Puppy Stew (oft-requested at local potlucks). So what was this odd barking noise that was killing my snooze?

New doggie.

Across the alley.

In the rental house.

Before I adulticized and became a homo-wner, I had no sense of the fear that the word “rental” could strike into a mid-life, quietly-contented heart. When I was a renter, during the Jagermeister Years, I never had the faintest notion that my lack of investment in a neighborhood, or in the quality of life of those around me, might be a bother. Parties were my right, as was coming and going at 2 a.m., car tires grinding in the gravel. Life was all just me and my peeps, doin’ our bang thang. Rhythm was a dancer, and my days were all about good vibrations. That my vibrations resonated sloppily onto anyone else in the two-block radius was so far beyond unthinkable that it took the light from Unthinkable two thousand years to reach my orbit.

But now. I live in my sweet place with sweet neighbors, and we like our family-life vibe and our quiet.

Not so much the renters. In the four years that we’ve lived next to the rental, we’ve witnessed the sad family with Abusive Daddy, he who hollered at his kids that they were “worthless f**ks”. We’ve had the Snaggle-Toothies, telemarketers who smoked out by the garbage can on Sundays (game day!) while dressed in full Vikings football regalia. We’ve had Baby Daddy, who broke up with his girlfriend right about the week their baby, Liberty, was born.

The latest, them responsible for Yapping Doggie Stewmeat, are five 18-year-old boys, all on the cusp of their first term at college.

The yappy wake-up happened about a month ago, on a day when the first of the lads was moving in to the house with the help of his father, sister, and BroBuddy. Trying not to be passive/aggressive, I straightforwardly and, in a psychologically-healthy manner, channeled my peevishness into a carefully-phrased note (“I don’t mean for us to get off on the wrong foot here, but it seems fair to let you know that your dog, while perfectly happy when you’re around, seems to get loudly and unrelentingly distressed in your absence…and if there’s anything we all can do to help with training or making your dog feel more comfortable during the long hours that you are out of the house, do let us know”), which I then tacked to their screen door with a bloody, cyanide-laced dart.

Twenty minutes later, First Boy and his posse—burping up eggs and waffles--pulled up, ready to continue to unload the moving truck. I was working in our garden, hugging the carrots a bit, which gave me a fine vantage point from which to watch the reading of the note, which spun them from bewilderment to incredulity to defensiveness. Right as they rounded the corner to “Geez, what a bitch” territory, I stood up, startling them all, and hied across the alley. I introduced myself as their new penpal and started gladhanding and gerrymandering and do-si-do-ing. Before you know it, we learned that First Lad, a thick-necked creature named Kyle, was entering the fire fighting program at the college where I teach. All his impending roommates, too, would be attending what I like to call my college.

Kyle looked distinctly nervous when I pointed out that I teach a range of required classes that would be hard for all five members of the rental to avoid during their college careers.

Quickly, he assured me that Yippy Doggie Stewmeat was only in town for the day and would be returning to his hometown that night. But, er, one of the other guys would, um, hem, haw, be bringing his dog in a few weeks, when the whole crew moved in.

Then he turned and ran.

After that day, we had two more weeks of blessed quiet, as the rental remained empty, save for Kyle’s futon, lava lamp, and keg-o-liter.

However.

The college term started this past Monday, which meant those far-thinking boys were here in town, in full occupancy, the weekend before.

When we were out of town.

Unable to enforce the idea of No Trespassing, You Frat-Boy Wannabe RatAsses.

Thus, when we pulled up Sunday evening, spent and craving noodles, it surprised us to see our tetherball pole leaning awkwardly as it did. Groom, wide-eyed, started wondering aloud what might have happened to it. But since I’ve taught college kids for 18 years, my gaze immediately shifted to the rental, which lay there stolidly, feigning innocence.

“Looks like someone might have backed a car into it,” I noted, loading and locking another cyanide dart. “Or maybe, it looks like about 200 pounds of simpleton decided to challenge 190 pounds of shirtless drunk to a match.”

Agitated, we unpacked the car and muttered about our intention of stomping over there and cracking some heads, realizing, of course, that tempered feelings find better reception. So I began mulling, trying to find the right forceful language that also struck a chord of diplomacy, so that the next 12 months wouldn’t lapse into an impasse and climate of increasing hostility, wherein our cars are urinated upon every night at 3 a.m. and our sunflowers mauled and scattered around the alley before the lads segue to synchronized beer dives into our compost bin.

As I fought down the pissed-off-ishness, my next door neighbor, Mike, spotted me in the yard. “God, I felt like such a jerk,” he called out.

“What? Why? What’re you talking about?”

As it turns out, neighbors on all sides had become alarmed when the crew of big boys entered our yard during the weekend and started whaling on our tetherball pole, whipping at the rope and ball with a flurry of profanities as they played game after game. Mike was finally the one to go up to the boys and ask, “Do you guys, uh, have permission to be here doing this?”

Why yes, he was told, Jocelyn had told them it was fine. They were in Jocelyn’s class at the college. We all were friends. They had my explicit permission.

While a part of me admired the chutzpah in this audacious response, the bigger part of me immediately began slicing up each lad into stew-meat-sized chunks and adding them to the simmering pot.

So I shifted my mulling into high gear. I lost sleep that night. In a riveting inner monologue that lasted from 1:14 a.m. ‘til 2:24 a.m., I called each renter’s mother and advised her that her son needed her, that she should come right away and stay for some weeks, that she should bring all of her Oprah’s book club selections along and read them aloud to her respective son while simultaneously ruffling his curly head and changing the sheets on his bed--sniffing them for any hint of a spew--that the neighbor lady across the alley would love to share recipes (and phone numbers) with her, ending the entire visit with a firm and public embrace between concerned neighbor lady and college-boy mother.

After a few days of stewing the boys in my mental Dutch oven, I decided to let it go. However, I’m on alert now, crouching at the windows and observing every late-night brake screeching and cigarette butt randomly tossed into the alley. With one small incident, they’ve made me The Crazy Lady With Calloused Patellas.

I give them time. My list of infringements will lengthen. I have the landlord’s phone number.

But best of all: even though I have no one named Kyle in any of my classes this semester, there’s always Spring term.

As it turns out, I can be a very—almost unreasonably, crazily—hard grader. And with all the f-bombs being dropped out in the yard over at the rental, I find myself constantly thinking “F” this and “F” that. “'F’ Kyle” is rather stuck in my head..

Quite elegantly, grades for Spring term will be posted just when the lease across the alley runs out. Bon Foyage.

25 comments:

cathy said...

F those students! LOL:)

furiousBall said...

Jagermeister Years... was that before or after the Bronze Age? wait... no, the printing press. that's right. the printing press was invented during the Jagermeister Years.... ok cool, got it. thanks.

rak said...

I can't believe you just "let it go"!!!!!!!!! Don't let those BOYS get away with anything! Granted, you do have to share air with them for a while yet, so there is time....

Keep us posted! And good luck with that!

Her Grace said...

You are a much better person than me, that's for sure.

We went to Dave Matthews concert recently, sat surrounded by drunk college kids. I turned to my husband and said, "Either these kids are especially annoying, or I have officially grown old." He didn't answer.

I thought, in my own Jagermeister years that I was funny and charming. Now I fear otherwise.

Minnesota Matron said...

Oh my God! I would be FURIOUS too! Jeez. Hope you get the chance to someday let them know that you KNOW they're liars. And maybe cheats?

Amy the Mom said...

Great blog! Found you through the Minnesota Matron.

lime said...

do you happen to teach freshman composition or american literature? i think your first assignment when you have these effing idiots in your class should be for them to write an essay in which they explicate frost's "the mending wall." they should also include a section on their own efforts to maintain appropriate neighborhood boundaries and promote general harmony. THEN you flunk their sorry asses.

susan said...

You let it go? Don't you know the first rule in training critters is to let them know who is Boss? They are so lucky they didn't land in one of your classes...yet. Have a good year!

Jocelyn said...

Update: Rental Boys had a party last night that lasted until 4:15 a.m. While they woke up me and Groom several times, despite our forethought to close the damn bedroom window (in August, that's a sweatfest), we grumbled, but since we were tres fatigued, we fell asleep mid-grumble, until the next brief wake-up. Had I woken up to the point of stomping around anger, I would have called the cops.

By 11 a.m. this morning, we'd compared notes with the four houses around us, all of which contain small children who rise at about 6 a.m., and they'd all been woken up and pissed off. One guy, Hero Mike, marched out in his boxers when he heard them in the garbage can of the little old widow who lives on the other side of them (they set off her motion-detector light about 10 times, too). He called them on it; they defended their right to "recycle," and he called them on that, too, and told them to lay off the profanities.

After general comparing of notes, Groom called the landlord today (he lives in Arizona but wants his rental not to be hated); the landlord promptly called Rental Boys and issued them their one and only warning. He's also sending them a formal letter, telling them they'll be evicted with the next offense of any kind.

Rental Boys hung up the phone and came out and scowled and pointed at our house a lot.

Real nice then.

Claire said...

Ok, so you had your Jagermeister Years, yet you would deny these young lads theirs?? LOL, just kidding!

Janelle said...

you are one very very funny writer! but if were those boys, i would watch the hell out! You GO girl! X janelle

chelle said...

hehhe you are wicked ... I love it!

citizen of the world said...

Revenge can be sweet. I don't think kids understand how being disrespectful to their professor just doesn't pay.

Anonymous said...

When I was a small child, there was a short period of time when the rental across the street housed similar individuals to the ones you describe. After each late night party, my father would ring their doorbell at 6:00 AM and tell them if he had to stay up for their party, they had to get up when he does.
Thanks for the memories! Fina

Princess Pointful said...

Damn... this is where all the hassles I get from renting come from. Except I live in a city where 5 college boys could barely afford the price of a one bedroom apartment.
But who can? My 5-fight-a-day neighbours, wooo!
Methinks I shall install a tetherball pole on the balcony.

Jazz said...

You poor dear. Paying for what you made others endure?

Here's to eviction!

choochoo said...

I know EXACTLY how you fee. Rather, I would if you had the four of them living right above your head with no sound insulation.

Anonymous said...

Skirting the edges of "stay-off-my-lawn-you-darned-kids" land. But with good humor. Do you know the governor of Alaska by any chance?

iJim

stepping over the junk said...

i like that i live mostly around owners ( i am an owner). But there are RENTERS across the street

Hammer said...

I'd rather have frat boys than abusive parents and baby daddies.

However boundaries are needed.

The ONLY good thing about our HOA is that they say no renters. Period. Either you live in the house, sell it or it stays empty.

SQT said...

You are my idol. I can't wait until one of those punks end up in your class.

Say It said...

Oh dear. I can't imagine just sitting on that. Honestly. But, I don't have any idea how to approach it without it getting ugly. Fingers are crossed for an easy rest of the year for you.

Hey, maybe if they do get in a class of yours, you can have them all write papers on being good neighbors, what makes a good neighbor, what is their most cherished item, what they would do if someone touched it without permission... and the like ALL semester long. :)

pistols at dawn said...

Wow. Sometimes, certain areas are zoned to be douchebag-free - you should check with the county.

Chantal said...

Just read your update. I have a feeling you will be meeting new neighbours soon.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

We were also cursed with such neighbors back in the day when we owned a house. They were not quite as charming as yours, however.

Now I am in dire need of your cyanide-laced darts because Crotchetta next door and new asinine boyfriend came in at 2:45 this morning, drunk and disorderly, and partied noisily All Night despite Flip's pounding on the wall.

I spent today in a haze of evil fantasies about smearing dog doo (stew?) on her doorknob, or maybe Anthrax.

You might consider passing the word to other teachers so that perhaps Kyle & Co. will flunk out early and leave as suddenly as they appeared. Desperate times call for desperate measures, you know.