NS April 28th, 2010
Inspired by More Than Just a Mother’s post on getting trapped in her newly-constructed chicken run, which, to her embarrassment, her neighbour most likely saw, I found myself reflecting on the myriad strange things my own neighbours have seen at this madhouse.
First, let’s start with our house-warming party, which fell near Halloween. We decided to have a gathering for Noble Girl’s little friends from play group during the day and invited our neighbours to drop by then too. Small talk while the children played and looked adorable in their costumes seemed like a good enough ice-breaker. We invited some of our friends ’round for a boozy costume party later in the evening as well, of which I informed our neighbours when I knocked on their doors, to warn them of the possible noise.
The day went well, though I was a bit disappointed when only one out of the four families we’d invited showed up to say hello and introduce themselves. I’d already known that the family on our immediate right wasn’t coming since they’d informed me that their Christianity prevented them from attending a Halloween party (I know, I know; I was surprised too and only just managed to not make a sarcastic remark about burning pentagrams on the lawn and sacrificial goats), but I was surprised that the two families to our left, both couples with children in their late-teens/early-20s, hadn’t shown since they’d seemed so enthusiastic about coming.
Later that night, dressed as a Murderous Prom Queen complete with bloody tiara and sash, I opened the door breezily with a cocktail in my hand, expecting one of our friends. Instead, I was greeted by the sight of the rest of our neighbours, potted plants and bottles of wine in hand. I stood mute, dumbstruck. They must have confused my invitation to drop by during the day with my mention of a party later that night. Cue desperate attempts to make respectable conversation while ignoring the fact I had on a rather ridiculous get-up that showed more cleavage than I would ever consider stepping out of the house with.
So that was their introduction to the Noble family. Fabulous.
In the two and a half years that have followed, things have carried on in much the same vein. They got to see Noble Girl run naked around the garden during the potty learning phase, intermittently stopping to squat and pee; they’ve had our cat sneak into their house so often that they’ve given up trying to keep her out and have semi-adopted her as their own; they happened to be getting into their car the one time I thought I could nip outside super quickly, in just my knickers and a long t-shirt, to put a particularly odoriferous nappy in the bin; and they heard every little bit of the last hour or so of Noble Boy’s birth, in which I let loose rather operatic-sounding noises from the dining room, with windows open wide.
But perhaps most cringeworthy of all was when my neighbour was handed the biohazard bucket my placenta had been temporarily placed in, dried blood and all, when they came over to see the baby a couple days later — NG had found it in a corner of the garden, where we’d put it for washing but which we’d promptly forgotten about until she put it in my neighbour’s hands. The look of horror on his face when he realised what it was, masked by neighbourly politeness, will remain etched in my memory forever more. I didn’t dare tell him that what had once been in that bucket was now in our freezer, knowing he would never accept a drink requiring ice from us ever again, not to mention invitations to come over for a roast or stew.
There’s also the time we had put up a large marquee for a barbecue last summer and left it up overnight after a long drinking session. When I stumbled downstairs the next morning in my dressing gown to get water and headache pills, I looked out the back door just in time to see the pissing rain and high wind rip the (borrowed) marquee up out of the ground and send it tumbling arse over tits (as it were) across the lawn, onto the shed and nearly out of our garden entirely. I ran outside in my robe and slippers, face still smeared with last-night’s make-up and breath undoubtedly smelling like the floor of a pub after a 24 hour lock-in. And who just so happened to be out in his shed and jumped over the fence to help me wrangle the runaway marquee while I tried to keep my dressing gown from flapping open in the breeze? You guessed it.
Aside from the standard screaming (from the children) and shouting (from all of us) that they undoubtedly hear every day, we hadn’t had an embarrassing incident involving our neighbours for about a year and I thought maybe we’d broken the curse. But then Easter Monday happened.
At about 10.30am there we all were in the living room, still lounging in our pyjamas after a nutritious breakfast of chocolate followed by more chocolate. I started to tidy up and asked NG to open the door for me as I had my hands full of plates and Easter egg wrappers but she kept saying it was stuck. Thinking she was being ridiculous, I put the plates down and tried it myself. It wouldn’t budge. I looked at the lock and sure enough I could see that it had somehow slid all the way across, even though the key was on the other side of the door. The only explanation was that it had been nearly turned when we shut the door and the jolt of closing had made it turn all the way, locking us in. Utterly preposterous. I sighed and wondered why these things always happened to us.
Unfortunately, we had neither a phone nor a front door key in the same room so even though our small top window was unlocked we had no way of getting through it or even through our own front door. The Noble Husband wondered briefly if we could trust NG to go knock on the neighbours’ door if we lifted her out the window but that plan was quickly scrapped as we envisioned her running gleefully down the street in her pyjamas instead, her bare feet and chocolate-smeared face sure to get her taken away by social services were she to be found. Instead, NH flagged down a passing dog-walker and explained our situation.
“Um, hi, excuse me! Could you help us please? We seem to be locked in our living room and we don’t have a key to let ourselves out or a phone to call for help. Would you be so kind as to give next door a knock and ask them to come over with the spare key to free us?”
I really wish I was joking but those were pretty much his exact words.
Two minutes later our neighbours’ son, who was home from uni and whom we’d only met once, appeared with the key, let himself in and then released us from our four-walled, chocolate wrapper-strewn prison.
So I have to wonder: what’s next? Are they going to somehow walk in on me on the toilet? Will our bed go slamming through our adjoining bedroom walls in a moment of frenzied passion, sending plaster and lingerie flying, like often happens in comedic films? Will I make a derisory joke about David Cameron and then find out they are Tory voters? The multitude of humiliations are too many to contemplate.