With urban sprawl sprawling further than the traditional suburbs and beginning to invade even parts of my “Quiet Corner” of Northeast CT, cul-de-sacs are reproducing faster than Angelina adopts children. If you’re lucky enough - and I use the term “lucky” loosely – you’re probably enjoying – and I use the term “enjoying” loosely – the benefits of a cul de sac life, otherwise known as neighborhood culture. If you don’t live in a “sac”, allow me to shed some light on my introduction to cul de sac living.
Our lights are on past the usual 10pm. The next morning, Sarah and Suzy hypothesize, while grabbing their morning newspaper, as to why your lights were still on past 10pm. The most popular theory being that you’re having marital troubles and were up fighting over who is the better parent. You wish it was because you were treating yourself to a wild night of sex with the lights on, but the reality is – you and your spouse were so exhausted that you feel asleep in the kids room as you were tucking them into bed and failed to “lock up” for the night, leaving all the lights on.
Here’s another one. Your lawn mower breaks down--who knew they need oil? It’s in the process of being fixed, but your lawn is looking like hell. You could hire someone to do it, but hey, in this “neighborly” neighborhood, why not just borrow someone’s lawn mower? This would be a normal person’s train of thought. Not in the sac. In the sac, lawns are a competition and so are lawn mowers. Like a woman loves a diamond, a man loves his lawn mower. Would you let someone borrow your diamond? Of course not. Make sure you really know someone before you ask to borrow their lawn mower.
So why do we do it? What attracts, and keeps us flocking to sacs? It all looks good at first. Move-in day, maybe even the second week, can be fun…full of promise. Neighbors stop by and bring you blueberry cobbler. People stop their cars to welcome you. Mary stands in your driveway and collects your mail for you, delivering it right to your front door. Emily “pops up” in your screen door, as you’re cooking dinner, with a high pitched “hi” that sends you to the ceiling. You wake up in the morning to Jack and Janie from across the street already playing on your newly installed swing set. All these nice, nice things. Everyone just being neighborly.
Once the majority of you boxes are unpacked, then the scrutiny begins. They’ll speculate as to who you really are and why your life seems so normal and perfect, but certainly can’t be. Despite your outward appearance of near perfection, they spread rumors that you can make a soufflé for the next party, but you only serve Pop-Tarts to your own kids. People will stop by at odd times, trying to “catch” your house a mess. The word on the street is that your marriage is so good because you’re actually brother and sister, escaped from a royal family somewhere, living in obscurity in northeast CT, playing the role of happy family. Your kids are rented. You have to plug them in at night to recharge them. Your kids are robots. Your kids are a top secret government experiment – and you know what, you’re starting to believe it.