Monday, June 24, 2013

Good and neighborly

This essay is the backbone and essence of Neighborberry and Neighbors About Town:

Good and neighborly
  by Kris Kolk

“I live in a great neighborhood,” an acquaintance told me.

“That’s wonderful,” I said, “What makes it great?”

“Well, the lawns are immaculate and the homes are absolutely gorgeous!” he replied.

“How about the people? Are they nice?” I had to know.

“Um, I don’t know anyone here. Everyone does their own thing,” he said.

My friend was describing a neighborhood full of good neighbors: upstanding and tidy lovers of order and image. However, it sounded as if few were neighborly.

You see, good neighbors can be neighborly and neighborly neighbors can be good. Yet good neighbors and neighborly neighbors have different natures. Sounds like an exercise in logic, but I can explain.

Good neighbors never play loud music and always come to full and complete stops at stop signs.

When the power goes out in Berlin, they get a call from the World Clock people wondering what time it is. Good neighbors are that punctual.

Good neighbors’ cars never smell like spoiled baby formula and catsup. They keep potpourri in the ashtrays and blankets and granola bars in the trunks for emergencies.

 “I have lettuce in my teeth,” a passerby might declare as he primps before the spotless windshield of a good neighbor’s car.

Good neighbors don’t concern themselves with the cloth versus disposable debate because their babies produce no dirty diapers. In the kids’ playroom, each crayon has its own private cubby and the dolls have their own wooden wardrobes.

Good neighbors rotate their dogs’ squeaky toys seasonally and color-code the collars. Their well-groomed canines do not bark, yip, howl or dig.

If you wave at a good neighbor, they may or may not wave back at you.

I don’t claim to always be a good neighbor, but I usually succeed at being neighborly. It’s all about good intentions and treating people with kindness.

Neighborly neighbors don’t tattle to authorities when someone’s grass grows a bit. They realize it may be an indication of a life crisis and consider it their cue to provide any help they can.

Neighborly people may even offer to mow that tall grass thus instilling friendship and goodwill. They know tattling spews fear and suspicion into a neighborhood.

I’m hoping this mouthful catches on: “When good neighbors accuse other neighbors of not being good neighbors, good neighbors are not being neighborly.”

Neighborly people take casseroles to new parents and soup to the sick. They “grab some groceries” for those housebound.

They know all the neighborhood pets and help scour the streets when they get loose. At Halloween, neighborly neighbors enjoy guessing who the princesses and goblins are behind the masks and seize the opportunity to chat with parents.

Recently, I frolicked through my lawn on the way to deliver cookies to a neighbor. I cuddled their dog and dodged riding toys dotting their yard. I waved at every car driving on our street, and I couldn’t have been happier. I rate neighborly living a big thumbs up.

While good neighbors polish their already-pristine garage floors, neighborly neighbors are busy solving the most essential challenge of our time: encouraging humanity to respect one another.