November 9, 2020

enter Vanilla & old-enough kids: why God created windows and independence

In one of the venomous calls from Moody, she accused me of letting my kids play outside while she and the other moms (Vanilla and Wilson) supervised. My kids were now old enough to play without supervision. I can't help that some people park themselves on their driveways and stare at their 10 year old-ish kids. That's why God created windows and independence. 

I later learned that Moody was also upset because Tank had been invited to a kid's lake house for 5 days. Moody was ticked that Chuck hadn't been invited too. The lake house was owned by her good friend, who she doesn't speak to anymore (pattern forming?). The lake house mom (that mom is 'Friend-across-the-street' who still usually invites Tank on spring break with them) was like:  "Typical.  Nothing you can do."

Moody has not spoken to me since-8 years?  All three of her boys are on the golf team with Reg and Tank. Tank tells entertaining stories of their meltdowns and throwing golf clubs and threatening to tell on each other when they get home . . . as high schoolers. 

Moody HAS made it her life mission to convince other people to dislike me.  A mom actually said to me early on in this saga that people were relieved that Moody was fixated on hating me. Moody usually rotated her hating-focus on a different mom about every year (according to urban legend). Supposedly one of the moms was hated in part for wearing pig-tails. Moody was so busy hating me that she left everyone else alone. ** Insert me taking a bow.**

Enter: Ms. Vanilla.  As in, she's never had an original thought. She lives directly across the street from my front door also at the opening of the cul de sac. She has a husband (who is a great guy with a good sense of humor, Coach and I scratch our heads over this - so unfortunate because we would TOTALLY socialize with him, if his wife was not an impressionable poop).   

The Vanillas have two kids, their daughter, Vanilla Bean or just Bean, is the same age as Mini. Bean was friends with Mini when they were in Catholic school together. 

Moody hated Vanilla prior to hating me. Coincidentally, Vanilla's real first name is the same as my real first name. Moody used to say (in the days when she spoke to me):  

We call you good Ernie, and her bad Ernie. 

I didn't get it - is it really worth hating someone because they don't do much of anything and (one of Moody's issues with her) because they don't wave at you as they drive down the street? I was younger then and afraid to rock the boat. I was also the new kid on the block. I kept my mouth shut . . .  I started finding reasons NOT to hang out in the cul de sac with Moody.

The early years:  3 or 4 of my kids hanging in the cul de sac with the neighbors. Mini and Curly are sitting on the green riding car back to back, both with bows. Reg in the back of the red wagon. Might be Tank in front of green car but I think that's one of Moody's kids.

Vanilla and I were never close, chatted here and there.  Friendly-ish.  

When Moody nominated me as her person-to-hate, she took Vanilla under her wing and urged her to go from being somewhat friendly, albeit vacant, to hating me. Lord only knows what Moody said to Vanilla. I sensed Vanilla was super relieved to be off the hate list and on the good-neighbor list. Vanilla's family stopped talking to us, too.  We were no longer at Catholic school so we crossed paths less often.

About 3 years ago, we were out doing yard work. I know, shock. The Vanillas came into their front yard and froze (maybe they were in as much shock as you are), unsure how to proceed. I waved a very exaggerated:  "Hi there!"  They still sort of stood there. It's THAT awkward and we've NEVER done one thing to them. 


Moody's dad was a famous Chicago Blackhawk hockey player years ago. That impressed Vanilla, who probably hoped to score tickets, etc.  

Comparatively:  the day we met when Moody told me:  "My Dad is Mr. Famous" (and I didn't recognize it because I don't follow hockey), I was like:  "Oh, my dad's name is  Ralph." I thought she was just telling me her Dad's name, vs bragging about having a famous dad. Time to stop claiming:  Nothing gets past me.

I know, you've seen this - but I am pretty dang pleased with my little map.

To clarify:
  Mary Ann, and all of her pleasantness, is across from our side-entry driveway (see map), the front of my house faces the cul de sac. So Mary Ann's drama is separate, because life is a freaking party and maybe we should've stayed in geriatric-ville and just put a damn addition on that house.

So, that's the backstory, not as quick to 'splain as I hoped. If you read this you'll be rewarded in the next chapter . . . when Vanilla crosses me. There are also funny singing science teacher zooms on the horizon.

Oh, for 10 years the house behind us was vacant or occasionally rented out short-term.  I would often stare at it and hope for nice neighbors to move in, but I gave up.

Have I convinced you that we lost the neighbor lottery, or are you scratching your head thinking - it must be you?


Kari said...

My favorite part of this post was the MY DAD IS RALPH. That made me laugh out loud. I don't know hockey either, so that would've gone right over my head. My husband, however, would've been very impressed I am sure LOL.

I don't like neighborhood drama. I know some of my neighbors like to gossip and I used to be like that but I am trying to pull away from that as of late but sometimes it IS fun to get a juicy tidbit!

But being in the middle of drama is SO stressful. I am enjoying these posts though. Living vicariously through your neighbors. :)

Nicole MacPherson said...

Wow. Good neighbours make ALL the difference, I say. I had to laugh, same as Kari above. My dad is Ralph! Lol. I rarely know who anyone famous is. It does sound like you lost the neighbour lottery. We have a wide variety of people in our neighbourhood, and some I don't know that well, but all are pleasant and kind people. Wish it was the same for you!

Ernie said...

Kari - The "hey do you know who my dad is" thing WAS so funny. Over the years (when she still spoke to me) she would get annoyed at times that people asked her for an item signed by her dad for a silent auction, etc. I found her frustration funny because she liked to throw his name around when it 'worked' for her (of when she believed it would - of course with me, it fell short). She even used her maiden name on her voicemail so there could be no confusion about who she was, or more importantly who her dad was.

There are several homes with kind people, mostly older folks, who asked about the kids and enjoyed their Halloween costumes, etc. Unfortunately, most of the ones who are our age were not on the same wave-length.

As the kids have gotten older and they choose their friends, it matters less. But it sure would've been (and even now would be) nice to have neighbors to rely on or to share a laugh with, etc.

Ernie said...

Nicole - After I learned who her dad was, I was slightly embarrassed when my kids once played whiffle ball in their yard and the grandpa was assisting them. His grandkids always called him by his first name. Mini was the only girl playing. She was waiting for the grandpa to pitch to her. He was giving kids directions in the outfield and my sweet 4-year-old with long curls and a little pink skirt on waved her bat around and hollered at him: "Frank, I'm waiting!" I about died. It was as if he was just another kid. 'Frank' doubled over on the mound chuckling, thank goodness.

I think we lost the lottery too. Changing schools impacted us socially - not that anyone disowned us, but out of sight and all that. If we had had neighbors to connect with, well that would've been delightful. Of well.

Ally Bean said...

Again the whole phenomenon of knowing your neighbors fascinates me. I've no experience with that-- and feel I might be better off because of it. Being an introvert and all.

Suz said...

I love that a lot of things get past are not into names or games!

I DO love your map and I appreciate you bringing it out again for my reference; continue on with the shit show stories. .

What the hell with the shitty neighbors? You won the shitty neighbor lottery.

Ernie said...

Ally - I think it was the kids that caused us to interact. My ideal neighborhood (when my kids were younger) was a bunch of kids running around playing together and the parents all enjoying time spent hanging outside or taking turns supplying kids with refreshments, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, etc.

Maybe that was too lofty, but I do know people who have that ideal setup in the neighborhood that they moved into. Being a stay-at-home mom and an extrovert, I suppose I longed for people to connect with. Our time at the local pool in the summer filled that void for years. Gradually kids and moms (many of whom went back to work eventually) got to be busier, which is when it would've still been delightful to have a neighbor friend to visit with from time to time. But alas, I'm stuck with Moody and her weight that she likes to throw around along with her dad's name. Ugh.

Ernie said...

Suz - Famous grandpa once walked one of my kids home from a birthday party at Moody's house. No idea why, it wasn't planned. Suddenly Mr. Famous Grandpa was standing knee deep in our dirty underwear in the laundry room. When we bought this house the laundry room was where any sane person would make a mudroom (we have since made it a mudroom and put the laundry room upstairs). There was no room for a coat or a pair of shoes, just a washer, drier, utility sink. Laundry for 8 people overflowed in that room and made it hard to enter and exit the garage. Anyway, I was mortified.

I think you'll enjoy the next chapter. I just told Mini when we walked last night that I wish my present-day-self could go back and give rotten people a piece of my mind. Present-day-self: kicking ass and taking names. I was too passive with Moody.

Charlie said...

Loving this series Ernie! You sure did get shitty luck in the neighbour lottery. Such a shame. We have ok neighbours, but not great. I envy some of my friends who have life long friend type neighbours, especially when we’re all staying home so much. I’ve lots of Mum Friends through school, but they are a walk or cycle ride away, rather than right across the street. Our next door neighbours are a family, which we were excited about when they moved in. But OMG are they a pain in the arse and not our type of people at all! Shame, especially as the Dad is American and I usually really like Americans!

Ernie said...

Charlie - Glad you are liking this 'series' - I was fearing that I came across like a negative nelly. Loving that you usually love Americans, too. Yes, life-long, friend neighbors are the bomb. We grew up with those kinds of people in every house we lived in - and we moved around quite a bit, so this oddball territory we wandered into has been a disappointment. I like our location because my junior high kids walk to school. Otherwise, we appear to be weirdo magnets. I think the next post is the last in this series. but more will follow as the nonsense warrants. ;)

Kara said...

I am enjoying the Neighborhood Sagas!

Ernie said...

Kara - Wednesday will serve as the explanation of why I even went down this path. Vanilla at her finest, and me not about to sit in my house and let her do it. Bring it, Vanilla - is what I'm saying.