20 February 2011

how miss daisy helped me be a good neighbor

Once I recovered from the complete unexpectedness of getting in trouble {which you can read about in Part 1}, I realized I had two options:
  1. Fill out the form the Board required me to—stating my plan for dealing with the nuisance—and then proceed to feel like an outsider, a hated person in my own home. Seethe in anger and glare at all my neighbors. Bonus points for giving the cold shoulder while in the foyer.
  2. Talk to my neighbors. Apologize. Ask when Daisy is most excessively barking. Tell them that I'm getting one of those ultrasonic bark control things that will help train her not to bark, even when I'm not there. Apologize again and do it all with a sweet smile. Fill out the form for the Board telling them all this, but maybe leave off the part about the sweet smile. That would just sound smarmy.

I went with Option 2. I wasn't born with all this charm for no reason.

I briefly considered baking something for my neighbors—perhaps red velvet cupcakes?—but I didn't want to come off as trying too hard.

I saw myself going door to door in a 1950s full-skirted dress, complete with pearls and an apron, chirping out a “Why, good afternoon, dear neighbor! I just whipped up these cupcakes—would you like one? I decorated them with the face of my little pug. Speaking of her, why do you hate loveable creatures? Do you also hate sunshine and lollipops?

Yeah, that'd be trying too hard. I am not June Cleaver, not that June Cleaver would ever be so snarky, but I'm not even snarky June Cleaver.

I'm just plain, ordinary Kamiah who doesn't like to be in trouble and who wants to be a good neighbor.


Operation: Charm the Neighbors was a success. So much so that I considered hanging a banner over my door that read “Mission Accomplished.”

{Again with the snarkiness; I clearly was not born to be June Cleaver.}

From my upstairs neighbor—the one who keeps up on the gossip in the complex—I learned that it was Frank who complained. Frank doesn't even live in the building; he owns the unit {currently unoccupied} across the hall from me, and one day when he was there checking on it, he thought Daisy was barking excessively.

One day.

One complaint.

And I get a letter.

My upstairs neighbor also told me that he brought it up at the last Association meeting, and everyone stood up for me.

Note to self: attend meetings so that I can stand up for myself.

Note to everyone: I have kind neighbors.

My next door neighbor offered to check in on Daisy if I'm ever in a pinch—get caught at work late or whatever else is pinching me. She repeated her reassurance that she doesn't hear Daisy, and then we discovered a mutual love of French music.

An 80something woman who lives on the third floor invited me in for a 25-minute chat in her blue-carpeted, blue-walled living room. Her couch is chintz and everything else is either crystal or lace, and she told me, “You need to get a husband.”

I said, “I'm working on it.”

“Are you actively working on it, or are you just saying that you're working on it?”

I sat up straighter, ankles crossed and hands folded in my lap like I was on a house call in the Victorian era.

“Oh, actively,” I told Rosemary, eager to please this woman who acted like a Jewish grandmother but who was not, so far as the Crucifix on the wall suggested, actually Jewish.


My neighbors were charmed, and I was charmed by my neighbors.

No one hates Daisy, and I'm not a bad person, a troublemaker, an inconsiderate neighbor.

Even though the floorplan of all our apartments is the same, everyone in our building has very particular tastes.

Getting in trouble can lead to good things if you face the challenge like a grown-up and not like the scared 9-year-old you feel like.

You don't have to be June Cleaver.

This is what I learned from my trouble with Miss Daisy, who is right now sleeping as quietly as a pug can. Which is to say: she's snoring loudly, but at least she's not excessively barking.

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