November 6, 2020

introducing the cul de sac cast of characters

I want to share something, but I realize you need info about 'other' people in the neighborhood first.  We've lived here since Curly was 6 months, so 12 years.  There's been some drama. Honestly, it's the non-existent kind, the perceived, created-by-crazy-people variety. Allow me to summarize.

Shortened clip courtesy of my own crappy editing:  thanks YouTube

Ms. Moody - I wrote a post about this YEARS ago, but I am too lazy to dig it out, and I suspect that it's crazy long.  No one has time for that.  She lives about 4 houses away -  at the far end of the cul de sac, whereas we live at the cul de sac entrance.

Her 3 boys are the same ages as Tank, Mini, and Reg.  When we moved in, that seemed ideal. Fun. We moved from across town in a section of an older neighborhood ripe with original owners. Geriatric central.  

I often walked over with my gang. Ms. Moody and I chatted while the kids played.  She insisted this made more sense than coming to our house, closer to traffic (it was just the light neighborhood variety).  

I noticed that Moody was IN FACT moody as shit. Grouchy. She's what we call an ANGRY ELF. Seriously, she'd take photos of neighbors to report them to the school. People she felt claimed to live in district but registered with a relative's address to use our district/tax dollars.  

Everything made her mad. It was unsettling.  Mental note:  NEVER upset her.

Gradually my kids wandered into the cul de sac while I stayed at the house:  Curly napping, starting dinner, etc.  It made me uncomfortable. I didn't want Moody to think she was 'watching' my kids, but she had a toxic aura and I had stuff to do.  I urged my kids to stay at our house and sometimes I allowed them down by Moody's, telling them I'd head down a few minutes later. My kids were really well behaved, loud maybe - but behaved.  Besides, if one of them acted naughty, their siblings would rat them out. I could see Moody's home out the side living room window (across from the off-the-grid-chair).  I'd peek to check on them between switching laundry loads, etc.  

Fast-forward four years:  Moody's kids showed up to play in our yard FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. I think Reg was about 5 or 6. They were on the swing set. I ran down to the basement to turn on the music for Mini to practice Irish dancing.  By this time we knew that Moody's middle son, Will, (Mini's age) was a real challenge.  He has ODD.  (oppositional defiance disorder)  Our kids hung out together less often, because Will was a handful and the older brother was no picnic. Reg was buddies with the youngest, Timmy, but when Timmy sneered at him one time too many Reg stopped begging to hang out with him. Hardly Timmy's fault - being mean was in their genes.

By the time I came up the basement stairs - like 2 minutes later, Will had beaten the crap out of Reggie, two years his junior. Tank was shook up, sobbing. He felt guilty for not stopping it sooner. Everything happened so fast.  

Will and brothers had showed up with plastic toy handcuffs. Will accused Reg of breaking the cuffs as they played cops and robbers. Later he realized they snapped back together. Will had pinned Reg to the ground and Reg was covered in red, hand-shaped welts, aka '5-stars'. Reg was hysterical.  

Will's older brother, Chuck, ran home and told Moody. I saw her barreling towards my house. She confronted a retreating Will in the street. He raced back to my house, popped up on the deck, and called in my sliding door in a cheerful voice:  "I want to apologize to Reg." 

Me:  (livid) That isn't enough, Will. Hear me now. DON'T YOU EVER LAY A FINGER ON ONE OF MY KIDS AGAIN.  CLEAR?

Moody never called me to apologize or to check on Reg. Not sure if she didn't grasp the magnitude of things? I knew better than to confront her. I made a point to not discuss the incident with any other mom. I told my kids it was unfortunate, but it was over.  

Weeks later:  Tank had a friend over. The kid:  "Let's go play with Chuck."

Tank:  We aren't playing with the Moody kids right now. Chuck's brother has anger management. (not a typo, that's how Tank described it).

The mom was lingering as she dropped off her kid. She looked at me, eyebrows raised. I side-stepped a bit, but said something like, "Well, we're just hanging at our house today." I may have expanded a bit more to the mom. I don't remember.  Looking back, I believe she's one to social climb (despite her attempts, she hasn't gotten up that ridiculous ladder any higher, so sad). I suspect she reported back to Moody.

Moody called me. Bitched me out. Claimed she'd heard from 3 'sources' that I was telling EVERYONE that her kids had anger management issues. I was flabbergasted, knowing I had INTENTIONALLY kept my mouth shut to avoid her wrath.  

It got uglier. She called me multiple times, saying horrible things to me. Claimed I never did anything for anyone. (Even though I had just made dinner for the social climbing mom when she had knee surgery and I drove her daughter to school for 3 weeks).  She brought up things to rub in my face that I had confided in her like how my sister, Ann, didn't talk to me for a year when I named Reg because she already had a Reg.  

Moody:  Now I know why your sister doesn't talk to you.

Oh look, I used Halloween colors without realizing it. Our house is the misshapen 'US' - the dot under 'US' is our front door. The + sign is our side-entry driveway. Vacant really isn't vacant anymore. The owners who never sold the house are back as grandparents. Sell the damn house, still my motto. I even tossed in the egg carton house. The Wilson people will come up soon. North is Curly's science teacher (more to follow). Oh, our church is walking distance down that path covered in blue to the far right of Moody's.

Coach listened into one of the phone calls and just shook his head.  He was like, "There isn't much you can do. She's clearly crazy."  

This is easy to write about ALL THESE YEARS LATER, but this crazy person made me uneasy as hell. I knew she was capable of being horrible. When her next-door neighbor's house went on the market  (years later), school families who were shopping for a house all took a pass. No one wanted to live near her.

When I called her to say we were changing schools from Catholic to public a year after we moved in, she literally said:  "Well, you always acted like you were too good for our public school." Huh? Not at all true. We liked our Catholic school community, but that didn't mean we thought we were too good for public. Guessing she was envious of our school choice and this hit a nerve. 

The next chapter follows. Hope you will tune in even though this was a longer 'recap' than I thought it would be. Next part a bit shorter.

I lived for 3 years in Davenport, Iowa as a tyke and the kids in the hood ran around like a pack. No issues. Anyone else grow up that way?


Kari said...

What a horrible thing to say to you, "now I know why your sister doesn't talk to you"?? Talk about using something against you. That is crappy. I just talked about unhappy people on my blog on Monday too! And you can feel people's vibe IMMEDIATELY.

I have had neighbors who are pretty icky. My one neighbor who I wrote about (the non-hugger), moved this summer and the neighborhood immediately felt lighter. She was pretty toxic but now it is much better. We are lucky to have pretty decent neighbors.

Kara said...

My neighborhood was like that growing up- running in a pack. There were a lot of boys my brother's age, and only one girl my age. She became my best friend by default. It was the early 80's. There was a lot be benign neglect. Mothers all looking out for all of the kids, handing out freezer pops in the summer and yelling at everyone who got out of control. In the summers, the Moms would sit around the swimming pools tanning and drinking beer out of cans, or would load up the station wagons and take us all to the beach, while the kids tried to drown each other. It was pretty great, honestly.

Ernie said...

Kari - Yes that was horrible, as was the accusation about me being too good for their school. Talk about chip on her shoulder. My kids managed just fine because we invited friends over all the time and in the summer we hung at our local pool and they saw friends there. Still sucks to have un-neighborly neighbors surround you.

I remember the non-hugger. How freaking happy were you when the for sale sign went up in her yard?

Ally Bean said...

This makes me glad that we live in a non-friendly neighborhood. We might have some neighbors like yours, but who knows? We all just nod at each other, then go on our way. Of course being childfree might keep me out of the toxic loop, too.

Ernie said...

Kara - that sounds ideal! When we left Davenport, we had an unusual neighborhood with a very culturally diverse group of neighbors in our Chicago suburb. They weren't mean and horrible, but sort of kept to themselves or socialized in large extended family groups, I guess. We didn't see much of them. There wasn't a lot of mainstream kids running through the yards. Fortunately mom took us to the local pool almost daily and that was our happy-place for sure. Still, what you had happening would've been my dream childhood for either me or for my kids.

Suz said...

Is Moody related to MaryAnn?? What an asshat. I don't know how you got to be so lucky to have such wonderful, lighthearted friends in the 'hood. I mean really. Was the insane asylum full?

Growing up we ran the streets unattended and I don't recall any drama. Of course, my Mom was always working or sleeping from working so much. But Mark and I just did whatever and there weren't any issues that I recall.

Now? Our properties are so large that no one can bother anyone. My people around me are good, aside from the idiot building next to us, (who accused me of throwing garbage on her property) but I have a feeling there won't be any issues once they are in and realize we don't bother anyone.

I remember the People In The Neighborhood song. I have a feeling they weren't referring to YOUR crazy people. :)

Ernie said...

Ally - I could see advantages to being in an unfriendly neighborhood where everyone keeps to themselves. When the kids were younger it was more of an issue. With a husband who works long hours, I can't help but long for other couples who can meet up with us on the deck for an adult beverage, spur of the minute from time to time.

Ernie said...

Suz - I was commenting on your post as you were commenting on mine. We should just call each other next time. ;)

Yes, asshat. Like, no exaggeration Moody is feared by people. At least those that know her.

No relation of Mary Ann. They are quite different: Mary Ann is self involved and holier than everyone. Moody is evil and is too busy being interested in what other people are doing wrong to think of herself. Oh, that was another thing Moody accused me of, being too Catholic . . . or something along those lines. So Moody's faith not necessary her focus.

In Davenport, I remember my brothers and I getting into a tiff with the next door neighbor kids. No idea what it was about, but we agreed that they couldn't cross our property line and vice versa. It lasted all of one evening and the parents didn't get involved AT ALL. In fact, the four of them were probably standing on the driveway yucking it up while we patrolled the lot line with our Indian head-dresses on.

True, public television could not grasp the interesting neighbor interactions in our hood.

Bibliomama said...

I've always thought it's short-sighted that people look for a house with hardwood floors, enough bathrooms etc. but don't spend a bunch of time interviewing their neighbours - I know it's not easy, but the kind of neighbours you have makes SUCH a difference. There are certain neighbours that if you end up with you probably should just move. We were insanely lucky moving in here - we adore our neighbours to the left, our neighbours to the right are fine, the ones across the street are a bit weird but harmless, and we barely know anyone else. (It is a tiny bit funny that you just said you never thought you were better than the public school but Moody was just mad because she was jealous of your superior school choice).

Ernie said...

Ali - It would be ideal to be able to interview people who would be potential neighbors. That might make a realtor's job a bit more involved. Selling the neighbors AND the house.

Growing up my folks/we were lucky always having amazing people directly next door or two doors down. There was always a house with some kind of wacky people, but harmless none the less.

I see how my comment came across that way. I don't think we were better than anyone for going to Catholic school. I think it bothered her that we were happy there. Why our school choice would've irritated her so much? I assume that came from something she was bitter about/jealous over - some internal hang-up she had that she blasted me for. I don't think she had anything to be jealous about, but what would prompt her to be ticked off with me about where my kids went to school? Just our overall happy vibe towards our school vs her always hating everything?

Nancy McCormack said...

My mother grew up in Davenport, and as kids we would spend weeks with our grandparents there. Some of my fondest memories are running wild, playing freeze tag in the alleys with the neighborhood kids.

Ernie said...

Nancy - I believe it! When we moved to Chicago my family was thrilled because we would be near family. I cried all the time, begging to go back there. Not sure why I can remember back so far (I was 4 yrs - 6 yrs), but I have such vivid memories of being there and the mischief I used to get into with my brothers, and the games we played with the neighbors.