When Poopsie Pooped!
Although we shared a common fence and adjoining backyards, we didn't notice her at all when we first bought the house. I never heard her or sensed that she was on the other side, behind that tall, wooden divide. In my preoccupation with the list of "honey-do's" waiting for me every weekend, it never occurred to me that an eccentric person with an exaggerated sense of property rights might dwell just beyond my turf.
Then, I decided to build a fort. Since our backyard was consumed by the concrete of a curving driveway, I thought it brilliant to use the wooden fence, as one side of the fort. When I began to build the fort, suitable for a 6-year-old boy and anticipating its future use by his baby brother, she commenced her standard method of communication: shouting at me through the fence.
Those unexpected words, emerging from the pickets of a common, ordinary, suburban fence, were startling: "You are violating my property rights!" Recovering from the disabling shock of hearing a disembodied voice emanating from beyond the fence, I regained my composure and decided to capitalize on my limited experience in human relationships. Face-to-face is always better in conflict situations, I reasoned. "Just a minute!" I cried, quickly retrieving and climbing a small ladder.
On that fateful day, we began a discourse of years, usually accentuated by her righteous anger and emphasized by some ostensibly criminal act perpetrated by me, my kids or the dog! By her reckoning, in this initial infraction, my pervert children were guilty of "peeping tomism" by playing in the fort which, by the time they turned 15, if they inherited their father's height genes, just might have provided them with a limited glimpse of her backyard.
Her complaints were numerous and legendary in our nearly twenty years of fence-sharing. The most absurd of them was, several years later, when her dog, on a special, veterinarian-directed diet, got sick. Her assertion was that, by leaving our common, store-bought, dog food out in our dog’s bowl, we had been guilty of criminal neglect. Her “I’ll never-be-a-good-neighbor” contention was that the birds had swooped down in our yard, scooped up our ordinary dog food, carried it over the fence and dropped it within reach of her precious “Poopsie.” Because “Poopsie” had eaten the stuff, he had lived up to his name and we were to blame!
Oh, well …!