I’ve mentioned before about my neighbors, and about how I once made cursory attempts to befriend them but gave up because I find it weird when people either ignore me completely or seem kind of cool at first and then start ignoring me eventually.
I’m okay with not being friends with the neighbors; this is 2013 and I live in a city, so as long as we’re not on hostile terms (or as long as your kids don’t pee in the yard), I’m pretty much satisfied with our relationship. Plus I have actual friends who are great, and comparatively, I have little interest in superficial friendships with people just because they live next to me. So while I’m not upset that I’m not friends with my neighbors, I am a little bummed that they seem to want to be friends with each other but not me, and I wonder why, and any conversations I do have with them just leave me more mystified about the whole situation.
At first, I thought the upstairs neighbor was cool and the downstairs neighbors were weird. Then the upstairs neighbor’s friend moved in as her roommate and he’s some flamboyantly gay small town idiot who’s declined all previous invitations to hang out because said hang outs weren’t taking place in the traditionally “gay” neighborhood where, as he said, “I need to be with my people.” Ugh, dude, really?
So I stopped hearing from the upstairs neighbor for the most part, because she was always hanging out with her roommate and his friends, and it seems like their arrival heralded this weird adolescent phase in them where they hang out on the porch all the time, smoking cigarettes and listening to terrible music. Also the upstairs neighbor shaved her head around this time and got an awful tattoo of a peace sign made of flowers. And she is not punk at all. Whatever.
During this whole time, at least one of the downstairs neighbors seemed like she was getting sort of cooler, but then I stopped hearing from her, too, and figured it was because she started hanging out with the upstairs neighbors all the time, like constantly smoking on the porch with them and looking after the dog while they were away. It’s not like I need more pet-sitting responsibilities outside of when Luke and Courtney go away, I just wonder what in the hell happened that made these people super duper close all of a sudden. Is it the proximity? They’re in the same house. Maybe hearing someone else’s footsteps and toilet flushes all day endears you to them.
It’s not like I’ve become unfriendly. I’ve continued to say hello and tried to have conversations with them, but I am sort of socially retarded, and I am using that in the absolute truest sense of the word. I just don’t know how to conduct small talk. I don’t know how to start it or when to leave it. Especially not when I’ve just come home from work and sat in traffic for 45 minutes and then gone to the grocery store and I’m hauling everything through the door like a pack animal. So I always smile and wave, but beyond that I’m sorry if I don’t stay around all the time. It certainly doesn’t help when I’m ignored, or when I get the feeling that I wouldn’t be ignored if I didn’t have to go to work, sit in traffic, go to the store, and take care of a hundred other things instead of, oh, I don’t know, sitting on the porch and smoking weed all day. Which is what they do. And what they prefer their friends to do, apparently.
A few weeks, ago, they all had a joint party at the house. A party to which I was not invited, a party I walked past three times for various reasons that night and was ignored all three times. Yesterday I was leaving the house to go to Walgreens, and the downstairs neighbor was smoking on the porch and mentioned that they’d be having another one on December 7th. It would be bigger than the last one, she said, and just when I thought she might tell me to stop by, she clarified her intent by saying “But we’ll do our best to keep the noise on the front side of the house.”
Heh. Cool. Thanks. I stammered “I didn’t really mind the first time,” and then she changed tack and mentioned that I looked happier lately, and sort of glowing, which she thought was weird because she knew I wasn’t pregnant, but why was I in a better mood?
“I took a few days for vacation,” I replied.
“Oh, that makes sense. You didn’t have smoke coming out of your ears, so that’s good.”
I just sort of nodded and said I had to leave, but inside it felt like I was being rejected from the cool group in 7th grade. I think. There was no cool group in my school in 7th grade, but I imagine that’s what it would be like. On one hand, I wanted to scream “BITCH YOU DON’T KNOW ME YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE.” On the other hand, I wanted to point out that scientifically, massive marijuana consumption and not needing to go to work, like, ever tends to make a person more relaxed. At least in the face, as that’s apparently her focus because I have never actually had smoke coming out of my ears, nor do I think I’ve ever been visibly angry in front of her.
And of course let’s understand that she was just rude enough to stonewall me from another party and in the same breath paid me a backhanded compliment like I’m not old enough to know better.
Which I think is the problem. I’m old enough to know better, and they’re in their early 20s but also living in Seattle, where your mid-30s are the new early 20s and your early 20s might as well be adolescence. To them, I’m 31 years old and ancient. To me, they’re a group of maturity-challenged stoners who have no interest in me because I don’t get high with them. And unless you’re a committed addict for whom actual drugs that are not weed are your chosen lifestyle so it’s understandably hard to hang out with someone who’s not involved, that’s a pretty ridiculous reason not to be friends with someone.
Someone did once choose not to be friends with me for that reason, though. I was 19 and had pretty much lost interest in drugs and drinking, so for about a year there, I was sober but didn’t really care if other people were or not. But when you hang out with degenerates – especially the suburban kind who are still being subsidized by their parents – you find that they’re the ones who care. A lot. And so this person broke up with me because “what do you even do for fun?” and then one of his friends died of an overdose, a few more went to jail, and then he had two nervous breakdowns, no doubt helped at least a little bit by the copious amounts of Ecstasy that had eaten a hole or two in his brain.
That’s not the reason I don’t get high with my neighbors – I do know science, it’s okay – but no one’s tried to pull this shit with me since I was 19, and even then I wasn’t having it. So fuck them and their party, and I’ll continue to get along with their dogs (seriously), because this thing from the Onion is depressingly hilarious as it explains MY ENTIRE LIFE, APPARENTLY: