There Goes the Neighborhood
I was out watering flower beds this morning when I noticed our city police directing traffic at our corner of the quiet suburb where we live. Cars started lining up to park in front of my house and my neighbor's. Then I realized that this was Open House day for the multi-million spec house a two-year-long project that was built across the road from us.
Three small, older houses were razed and their acreage reorganized in order to build this monstrous McMansion, one of two in the neighborhood. A fourth homeowner whose husband was transferred to Houston was also given an offer, but she tearfully sold her house to a friend at a loss rather than have it bulldozed. I have to admire her for that.
There are mixed feelings about the swankification (a nod to Wicked's Stephen Schwartz for that word) of our block. Will the new neighbors mingle with the rest of us at the annual holiday covered dish? Will they turn up their noses if we take them squash and tomatoes from our gardens? Assuming, of course, that any of us ever make it past the electronic guard gate. Will they hit a panic button direct to Animal Control when our livestock escape and graze their professionally landscaped entrance?
Kate votes "no" on the question of mixing with the rest of the block, saying we'll never get to know the new family (or families, or cult, or syndicated world domination society since the place is almost more of a compound than a house. I mean, the mailbox is encased in a ten-foot-tall brick tower). But I prefer to think things will be fine. Living in this community for years has shown me that the Haves and the Have-Nots have a lot more in common than one would think. I reminded Kate that her classmate since kindergarten whose dad is a famous (and somewhat infamous, since last year's steroid hubbub) professional baseball player got his childhood chicken pox and head lice at the same time everyone else did.
Still, I had wonder what sort of family would want to live in a house like that, in an area like ours, where carports and goat barns dot of the landscape.
As I stood in my cutoffs spraying the wilting zinnias, I squinted and mentally pre-qualified the house-hunting visitors.
Gawkers, I thought of the couple that climbed out of their dusty Dooley truck, followed by three elementary aged moppets in matching Wal-Mart denim.
Ah, here we go, I thought, eyeing the grey-at-the temples fifty-something emerging from a shining Lexus to open the door for his young(er) blond(ish) wife. She tottered down our crummy little asphalt street on Jimmy Choo stilettos, her highlighted mane of hair perfectly arranged atop her overly perky and obviously medically enhanced chest.
No one seemed to notice me as they all excitedly formed a herd of humanity to the open gates which, I might add, look something like the entrance to Paramount Pictures. I felt like an oversized garden gnome or kitschy pink flamingo (both things I adore, by the way), a little out of place in my own universe.
Several dozen more couples and families made their way to the open house, their cars lining the street. I had seen the floor plan and amenities sheet months ago after David filched one from the realtor's sign case. I knew that the visitors would ooh and ahh over over Italian granite countertops, a five car garage, and a computerized sprinkler system.
I became aware of my aching, wrinkling wet thumb plugging the plastic hose and thought, happily, to myself: this is all the sprinkler system you really need.