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Spoofs & Satire

Yael Kanarek, "Safe (Prutza)," 2010, image courtesy bitforms gallery nyc

What to Expect When You’re Expecting New Neighbors

Across the U.S., neighbors of foreclosed homes are eagerly awaiting the new homeowners—soon-to-be acquaintances, friends, lenders of spices, spouse swappers

The house next door was vacant for a long time. Foreclosed, bank-owned, it was in such extreme disrepair that animals had moved in and taken over. Raccoons were having vocal, non-consensual sex in the branches of the oak outside your son’s bedroom window. Bats were pimping. You swear you saw a possum shooting up. It was like Menace 2 Society: Wildlife Edition.

Thankfully, a contractor came along and bought the place, evicted the beastly tenants, and restored it to its former grandeur. Now the work is complete, the house is under contract, and soon you’re expecting new neighbors!

Waiting for new neighbors to arrive can provoke anxiety. You’re never sure what you’re going to get. Will you get good ones—warm, generous, funny people who eschew lawn statuary and enjoy cocktails on the porch at dusk? Or bad ones—trash hoarders, serial porch screamers, and owners of untrained pit bulls?

No wonder you’re feeling unsettled. You’ve got a lot at stake. If they’re bad neighbors, you have little recourse short of moving. Or arson. But don’t get carried away. In uncertain situations, it helps to think positively. We recommend that you practice a little visualization:

Expect them to be a husband-wife team of professional physicians, the kind who will gladly share useful medical advice and possibly even administer free care in emergencies and will not recoil in ethical horror when you semi-jokingly plead with them to write you a prescription for medical marijuana.

Expect them to have a pantry larded with the rarest spices known to mankind, and a similarly high-quality CD collection, along with a very liberal lending philosophy.

Expect them to fill the air with the delicious smell of bacon every Sunday morning. Also, expect them to save you a piece. And a steaming hot cup of coffee. It would also be good if they didn’t ask too many questions about their missing New York Times.

Expect them to be insanely hot, the sort of hot that keeps you up at night tossing in your bed, imagining all the freaky-deaky, neighbor-on-neighbor sex-capades that might transpire in an alternate, spouse-swapping universe.

Expect them to casually mention inviting your family over for dinner someday. Don’t expect that will ever actually happen. If you invite them for dinner at your house, expect them to accept your invitation, only to back out at the last second, claiming migraine or back spasm or dissociative fugue. Try to remember, being a doctor is stressful.

Expect them to leave their sidewalk unshoveled after winter storms. They are physicians after all, busy tending to the needs of elderly patients. Expect them to close their windows and keep the screaming down when they’re intercoursing. Unless they’re insanely hot, in which case you can and should expect them to keep their windows open wide and to project and enunciate their enthusiasm, like some raccoons you used to know.

Expect them to maintain a fast and powerful unencrypted wireless network connection that you can pirate anytime, day or night.

Expect them to leave their sidewalk unshoveled after winter storms. They are physicians after all, busy tending to the needs of elderly patients who have injured themselves shoveling their own sidewalks after winter storms. Be a good neighbor. Shovel for them. Especially if they’re hot.

Expect their hotness to increase the overall hotness quotient of the neighborhood by at least 2,500 points, and your property value assessment by approximately $15,000.

Expect free babysitting.

Expect their kids to be the same gender as your kids, just a little bit older and one size larger at any given point in time, so that you can reap the benefit of well-maintained, designer-label hand-me-downs.

Expect them to show up at the neighborhood cookout with expensive micro-brewed beer and fine cuts of steak. Enough for everybody. Expect them to raise their eyebrows a little when your ill-mannered children bogart the s’mores.

Expect them to have a pain-in-the-ass dog that barks at every passing car and snarls at you every time you take out the trash and occasionally breaks loose to terrorize your children. Oh wait. That’s your dog.

Expect their cat to use your vegetable garden as its litter-box-away-from-home.

Expect them to participate in the annual neighborhood camping trip. Expect their gear to be a lot better and more watertight than yours. Expect them to emerge from their five-room, air-conditioned tent in the morning looking like L.L. Bean models. Expect them to have a kick-ass camping coffeemaker powered by the wind and their fine looks and minty fresh breath. Expect to accidentally sink one of their very expensive kayaks. Expect them to look a little uncomfortable when the next night’s campfire, a real barn burner fueled by pressure-treated wood, old car batteries, and polyurethane children’s toys, rises to apocalyptic heights, causing the leaves of nearby oaks to curl up and die.

Expect them to someday discover that you wrote that “freaky-deaky, spouse swapping” thing about them, probably by reading it on your stupid blog, and for relations between your families to grow painfully distant and palpably uncomfortable as a result.

Expect them to be distraught when their garden-pooping cat goes missing. Expect them to remember that time when you said you weren’t “a cat person.” Expect to be at the top of their list of suspects in the cat’s disappearance. Expect them to plaster the neighborhood with tear-stained signs offering a surprisingly generous reward for its return.

Don’t expect to receive said reward when you discover their cat accidentally trapped in your garden shed.

Expect your requests for a prescription refill to go unanswered.

Expect them to erect a full privacy fence along the border between your properties. Expect that any handwritten note of apology attached to a ball or Frisbee and thrown over the fence into their perfectly manicured yard will also go unacknowledged.

Sean Tabb has made a grand total of $250 writing for the internet so, no, he is not buying this round of drinks. He lives and works in Portland, Maine. More by Sean Tabb