Flamingos and Awkward Social Interactions


Sometimes situations come up in life which you just do not feel like you have been adequately trained to cope with. Today I came home and found my neighbor gardening against my will.

Perhaps a bit of backstory is in order. My aunt and uncle have allowed me to move into the house that they own. Several times before I moved in, they expressed concern to me about the next door neighbor. They explained to me that she would seem friendly but that I would probably  be better off not engaging if possible. Apparently  her neighborly friendliness has extended to peering through windows and making late night phone calls to them about the goings on next door, among other weird things. They did mention her doing yard work on the property as well, although it didn’t really occur to me that this would be a primary problem.

Since moving in I have had a few brief conversations with her. She is a middle aged woman and she immediately sets off that antennae in the back of my head. You know, the one that says “something is profoundly off with this person and this conversation and most likely your best bet is to back away slowly.” I feel I should also mention for the sake of it that she lives in a brilliant purple home with yellow trim and, more importantly, her entire front and backyard appear to consist of nothing but mounts of dirt planted with dozens of pink plastic flamingos. There are a few remains of sunflowers as well so it’s possible that during the not fall season more flowers come out but… there’s no grass and right now it just looks like it’s sprouting tacky pink flamingos everywhere.

So today I come home and in my front yard is a bucket and she is in my front yard pulling weeds on the side. I am rather baffled, to be honest. I’ve never had to tell someone, “please, I would really appreciate it if you would stop gardening immediately. You know you’re not supposed to be doing this.” She approached my car and, standing between me and my door, engaged me in conversation about school, something about her husband (who I have literally never seen and slightly question the existence of). After a minute or two she motions to her gardening supplies and says she “knows she’s not supposed to but she just thought maybe pulling a few weeds…” I was like “Yeahhhhhh but probably you shouldn’t. Given that you know they don’t want you to do that.” She proceeded to go on a bizarre rant about what wonderful people my aunt and uncle are and how they should let people do things for them. I couldn’t very well follow with “but apparently your doing things for them turns into trespassing and insane midnight phone calls…” so I settled for “Yes, they’re great and yet they really don’t want you to do that so probably you should not do that.” She agreed she would stop, I eventually tore myself away and into the house I went.

As I was doing homework, I continued to hear noise outside and once I thought I heard a lawn mower but it stopped after a minute and I had to get everything done before class so I just ignored it. As I walked out the door for class, I glanced over in time to see her whisking into the garage and to see a lawn mower sitting on my lawn. One strip had been mowed. Why does she even own a lawn mower? She doesn’t grow grass! She only grows flamingos! I was late to class so I had to run. When I came home tonight my lawn was mowed and the neighbor and the mower were nowhere to be seen.

David thinks I’ve stumbled unwittingly into a murder mystery and I’m going to be buried with the flamingos (could this explain the absence of husband?). I realize that in general someone doing your yardwork seems like a weird thing to be perplexed about but that’s part what makes it so perplexing. I can’t just allow her to continue, my aunt and uncle have made their wishes very clear. And yet the awkwardness of having to perpetually tell an insane person to stop doing lawn work, knowing she will do it behind my back when I leave (or even when I close the door apparently) makes me want to die. Maybe a flamingo grave marker is in my future after all.


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