Friday, February 25, 2011

"They don't like me/I just know it/But I'd be happy/Just to get along."

The Song: "They Don't Like Me," Lyle Lovett. Words & music by Lyle Lovett. Track 7 of I Love Everybody, 1994.
When/how acquired: Purchased CD, 1994.
Listen here.

I don't know most of my neighbors well, and they don't know me. I was startled a few years ago to discover that some (not all) of my neighbors paid much more attention to my comings and goings than I realized, and had drawn their own conclusions about how I was: specifically, lesbian, unemployed, stuck-up, and weird.

Some (not all) also seem to assume that I don't like them, which I have tried to dispel by smiling and waving and trying to chat when I see them. Maybe these aren't things people do in Maine; I've had a neighbor visibly recoil when I greeted her and said something friendly.

Dizzy, on the other hand, assumes that everyone in the neighborhood is his friend, which means they must also be mine. Dizzy is a big dog, and not particularly tidy. I pick up his droppings faithfully, but there's no easy way to catch his urine, and he pees pretty much where he wants to pee. The woman across the street told me not to let Dizzy pee on her lawn anymore, and I have carefully avoided that yard ever since. It hasn't helped; if anything, it seems to have made neighborhood relations worse, rather than better. (She has a small dog of her own, as well as a cat that roams the neighborhood at will.)

Dizzy is completely in love with Casey, a friendly black lab up the street, who's allowed to run around in her yard without a fence or a tie-down. Casey's owner is lovely, and has been very kind to both Dizzy and me.

This afternoon, as I walked Dizzy in a snowstorm, Casey came barreling across another neighbor's driveway to greet us. A truck was backing out of that driveway, and very nearly hit Casey; I yelled at Casey (not the driver) to stop, but she ignored me. She wasn't hit, the driver stopped, and everything was okay — except that the woman in the house, who saw nothing but only heard me yelling, assumed I was yelling at the driver of the truck, and not the dog. I tried to explain, but I don't think she heard me; she shook her head and went back into her house.

I don't want to spend a lot of time trying to manage what people I don't know think of me, but it's depressing to be judged and found wanting.


Claire said...

Do you think it's the small town thing? I see the same people every day and I'm sure they see me, but no one would dream of being openly judgmental (unless someone was committing a breach of commuter etiquette). Of course, I spend most of my day blissfully self-absorbed so maybe everyone around me is judging things and I just haven't noticed.

Give Dizzy a hug for me today. I don't know if you've talked to Mom, Dad, or Chris, but Clancy's struggling.

AnswerGirl said...

It's definitely the small town thing, at least in part. I'm From Away, so I think my neighbors assume I judge them (which I don't), and they don't question their right to judge me in return. It's a shame, because I think they're good people, and I'd like to be on good terms with them.

I talked to your mom on Wednesday, when Clancy had had a good day - things sounded more hopeful, but she said it was day to day. Is he worse today? I'm so sorry.

Claire said...

Apparently he's having a lot of trouble moving today. Mom emailed me to say he's more or less comfortable so they're going to see how he does this weekend, then consult with his regular vet (currently out of the office) on Monday. Neither she nor Dad sound too hopeful though.

AnswerGirl said...

Poor guy. Poor everybody. It's rotten that big dogs don't live long enough.

Anonymous said...

Huh, makes me wonder what my neighbors must think of me. . . Joe

Anonymous said...

To my neighbors, I'm deffinitely the weird guy in 5518. Such is the lot of the single nd childless, self-employed fortysomething who works from home.

-- Ed

AnswerGirl said...

The combination of self-employed and single is definitely something that looks odd to outsiders. Joe, people know you by your job - you're that guy who works for the paper, and your camera is your passport and your ID. Plus, Hallowell's a little more open-minded than Gardiner, I think.

sarirose said...

This reminded me of when I moved to a small and new little development in Indiana while John was in Vietnam. I knew there would be curiosity about me so I invited all the neighbors in and gave a delightful Navy wife coffee. I only lived there a year but I’m still friends with one of the neighbors and Facebook with her children.

Jodi said...

I like to think of myself as amusement for my nieghbors. As I turn away from thier looks of ghastly disqust and bewilderment, I smile. Yet I will be there with snow shovel after the storm, with chain saw help clear the tree that fell across your driveway or to make sure you are still alive during the lastest power outage.
It is not for us to judge, we are only human.