By Linda Wisniewski
George, my elderly neighbor, is not well-liked. He has a reputation for being a grouch, but in the six years we’ve lived in our townhouse community, my husband and I have tried to be friendly and cordial with everyone. When George-from-across-the-street said that Sam-from-next-door hated him because he was Jewish, and that Sam’s wife Gert was crazy, I said we wanted to get along with all our neighbors. For six years, I smiled and made nonpartisan sympathetic noises while Sam and George badmouthed each other. My husband counseled them, both men in their mid-eighties, to calm down before they had heart attacks. But this week, their feud entered my personal space.
My husband and I were about to get into our car for a day out, when George ambled by. We had a pleasant conversation about a bed he was buying his dog when out of the blue, George wheeled toward Sam’s garage, right next to ours, and shouted, “What the hell are you lookin’ at?” Sam was merely standing in his garage, perhaps giving George a dirty look. And for me, it was childhood all over again.
My dad verbally berated my mother, my sister and I for all kinds of minor transgressions. “What the hell” was a common prelude to a string of insults. My mother was a lousy cook, my sister and I made noise with our forks. My mother “had no friends.” I “had no boyfriend.” Honestly, the stuff he came up with to yell at us for almost makes me laugh today. Almost. Because it still hurts. Continue Reading…