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.
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.