I don’t want a lover, I just need a nemesis
An unfortunate side-effect of civilization and the development of agriculture and industry is that people often have to live near other people.
Sometimes, these people are warm, friendly folk who watch your house while you’re away, say good morning in cheery tones and resist the urge to viciously puncture every spherical object that lands over their fence as a result of your children’s poor coordination.
Sometimes, however, they are like Paul Hayward of South Wales (in the UK, NOT New South Wales), who spent a decade tormenting his neighbours by throwing eggs, stones and rubbish at their houses, sending hundreds of cabs and take away orders to their homes and even having two tons of coal delivered to their door.
Hayward has since been sentenced to 14 months in prison, where everyone is likely to think he is “massively awesome” for his daredevil exploits, which also included timidly calling houses and breathing quietly down the phone line.
I sincerely hope I never encounter such a fiend and his coal delivery-based methods of terror (unless I live in a colossal steam-powered zeppelin in the skies of Eastern Europe - then the joke’s on him).
But I do feel as though I’ve missed out on some vital experience by enjoying considerate, courteous neighbours all my life. I’ve never witnessed the wrath of an elderly man who has had his lawyer son come out and measure the boundaries and is convinced that 0.5cm of my new fence sits on his property.
I’ve never screamed at the guy next door for allowing his branches to grow a tiny bit on my side, while a Today Tonight crew drinks in the chaos and grows ever more youthful and radiant (and their profile photos on the TT website become older and more sinister). Where is my Newman? Where is the nemesis who will bring focus and direction to my home life?
A worthy nemesis can come to define a person’s life - like Batman and the Joker, David and Goliath or Matthew Newton and gentle reasoning.
While I am grateful that I’ve never been in a fistfight over someone blasting Hoobastank for six consecutive hours, I feel as though I’m missing out.
Perhaps some day I’ll find him or her - that devious, perfect being who is the physical embodiment of obnoxiousness.
I imagine it will start over something small, like the partial blocking of a driveway, and end with sirens and lawyers and the shattered remains of a matching set of garden gnomes.
Each day, we’ll grab our junk mail at the same time and lock eyes, narrowing them in a way that says: “As soon as you leave to pick up your wife from the dentist, I’m going to move my wheelie bin onto your bit of the lawn.”
Our fences will rise higher and higher, a testament to our gritty determination and our inability to resolve even the most childish of disputes with basic communication.
Then, one day, one of us will move. The war will be over. Each evening, we’ll stand out in the street and cast our eyes over the houses to our sides - confused by the silence, lost without the chaos. On days when the faint, highly-offensive sound of Hoobastank’s 2004 single, “The Reason”, drifts down the street, the screams will return to our minds. And we will find ourselves wishing we were back in that jungle of inconsiderately-placed grass clippings and overly-sensitive security lights.
Or maybe I’ll just learn to be grateful that my neighbours don’t leave coal at my doorstep.
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