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After you’ve been married long enough, there’s no need to wait for your significant other to say, “I told you so.” It’s easier just to say, “You told me so” preemptively and steal their thunder. It’s one of the few pleasures for those in the AARP spectrum.

For those who aren’t married, it would help you to know that at least 7% of all married life is spent saying some version of “I told you so,” or “Duh!” -albeit in more cleverly-concealed word packets. You have to choose your battles, with most of them being silent and snickering skirmishes along the periphery of your partner’s attention span. I’ve heard fables of those with the ability to just directly smack-talk their spouses, but I presume these are distraction stories planted by some nefarious society for the abolition of living husbands.

After moving, I swore off fixing the neighbor’s messes, including the inevitable neighbors who let their lawns and fences start to look like Isla Nublar from Jurassic Park, after 100 years of abandonment. My wife Dawn told me ignore the encroaching wilderness or pay someone to do it. (Remove it, not ignore it, although one camp of thought firmly believes that ignoring a problem either solves it -or solves you from being around to need to be involved.) The afternoon we were expecting powerful weather, I convinced myself that the foliage hadn’t had time to mature enough to trick me into making contact with it. I not only trimmed it all, but carefully cut it and compacted it into compost recycling collection bags – and thereby ensuring that it touched every square inch of my body, just as an idiot bonus. Thinking back, I wish I had sneaked over to the neighbor’s house and shoved it through the side windows where, according to the hoarded collection of things shoved there, Bigfoot was probably already living.

At the Cottonwood house, I had some epic struggles with skin rashes caused by some unknown plant, ones which made me resemble the ‘before’ pictures in leprosy photos. Even wearing a bee suit under an astronaut’s gear, I still broke out. We paid thousands of dollars for tree and foliage removal, after which I continued the Sisyphean and quixotic task of removing everyone’s else mess. While wasting my time keeping other people’s messes at bay, I (mostly) silently practiced my barrage of creative cursing, inventing newer and cleverer ways to imply my neighbors were lazy cretins.

At this new house, we have zero trees and zero bushes, so our landscaping ideology could be best described as ‘Spartan.’ The upside to this is that we can’t be accused of allowing our choices to encroach on other people or their property. When I bought this house, I had to shame the home builder into clearing the property to back line as I had been promised, trees, bushes, and any remaining squirrels included. Almost immediately, however, I noted my neighbor’s were more interested in smoking foliage than in maintaining it. Lest the wacky weed fail to dull their senses of duty, they also drown the remainder of their responsibility in small, conveniently packaged cans of work inhibitors.

Wednesday morning, I awoke to skin that felt like it had been dipped in fiberglass itching powder and spread on my body. My right eye looked like I had stepped in the ring for Rocky Balboa for the Clubber Lane fight. And, of course, I had scratched in my sleep, spreading the fun into my unmentionable nether regions.

I tried to work, but finally went to the doctor and admitted that I had ignored the admonition of my wife and ventured into Isla Nublar again. If you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to sleep on a fiberglass insulation mattress, come over and I’ll have you toss about in the neighbor’s fence line.

I realize that it would have been much, much cheaper to hire semi-professionals to cut the fence line back, even if they, too, contract my irritating case of itchy-nethers instead of me, rather than me miss work and pay for the privilege of a doctor basically telling me, “Don’t do that and you won’t have this problem again.” He should have handed me a “Here’s-Your-Sign” sign a la Bill Engvall in addition to the prescription for 5,000 steroid pills.

Next time, I’ll grumble dismissively at Dawn and heed her words of advice as she counsels me against doing something else stupid. I’ll listen, though. (She preaches ‘advise and no dissent’ instead of ‘advise and consent’ as Congress does.)

If you hear about a 911 call from the boundary between Vanleer and Green Acres, don’t worry, it’s me. I’m ordering plans now for building my own DIY flamethrower, the kind that can blast waves of fire 20 feet. I could use machinery to trim the neighbor’s neglect, or hire innocent bystanders to do it. I think, however, that a tower of flame, held in my maniacal laughing hands of destruction will send a better message and make for better optics, even if the fire department comes and puts me on the wagon. I’m going to blame it all on the massive dose of steroids the doctor gave me.

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