Love Thy Neighbor, or at Least Give Them Nicknames You Can Remember

I don’t know any of my neighbors’ names.

I think that’s excusable when you’ve only lived next to them for three months.

My problem is that I’ve lived next to them for eight years.

It doesn’t inconvenience me.  I don’t talk to them.  The only time it comes up is when Staci — who does talk to them — is telling me a story.

“Doug said they haven’t had any offers on their house.”

“Who’s Doug?” I ask.

“Doug.  Our neighbor.”

“The fat guy whose wife doesn’t talk to him?”

“That’s Jim.  Doug is across the street.”

“Oh, the guy with all the crap on his lawn.”

“Yeah.”

Although she’d rather not, she always knows who I’m talking about.  There’s “the lady who got pissed about the fence”; “skinny Prius dude”; “beardy guy with the dog”; “the strange kid who walks around the block”; and “the heavyset woman.”

The “heavyset woman” is the only one that’s problematic.  There are two of them.  So when Staci says, “Which one?”, I have to either say “the one with the shed” or “the one with the dirt yard.”  Should the one with the shed ever let her yard go to pot or the one with the dirt yard buy a shed, I’ll be in trouble.  But until that day, it works.

There’s also the man I’ve affectionately termed “shithead.”  He’s the guy who parks his brand-new Mercedes in front of our house instead of his because his trees don’t offer his car enough shade.  So whenever we have guests, they can’t park in front of our house.   He also has the annoying habit of sitting in his car for hours after he’s parked it so he can talk to people on his Bluetooth.   The space under our trees is his home-away-from-home, the latter being just fifty feet from the former.

I thought about all of this today because I read an article on “earthquake block committees.”

In California, you’re supposed to form these committees with your neighbors.  The board of the committee is responsible for knowing the names of everyone on your block.  In the event of a devastating quake, each board member is charged with walking past a certain number of homes and calling out the name of the person who lives there.

I’m thinking of volunteering.  Not for any altruistic reasons.  Just because I think it would make for some interesting conversations as I walked past the houses on our block after a devastating quake.

“Anyone in there?”

“Yeah.  It’s me.  Doug.”

“Doug?  Hmm.  Not ringing a bell.  You the guy with all the crap on your lawn?”

“Yeah, I guess I kept some stuff on there.”

“Great.  Listen.  You seen the fat guy whose wife doesn’t talk to him?”

“Jim?”

“If you say so.”

“If you mean Jim, he’s over there.  Near Kay.”

“Who’s Kay?”

“The woman who lives next door to Jim. ”

“The heavyset woman?”

“Are you talking about Karen or Kay?”

“Which one has the dirt yard?”

“Kay.”

“Her.”

“Yeah.  Her boy is Dylan.”

“I don’t know a Dylan.”

“Tall kid.  Sixteen or so.”

“The strange one who walks around the block?”

“Yeah. That’s him.”

“Great.  I guess that’s everyone.”

“What about Stan?”

“Who’s Stan?” I say.

“The guy trapped in that Mercedes those trees just fell on.”

“Oh, you mean ‘shithead.’  Don’t worry about ‘shithead.'”

“Why not?”

“He likes it there.”

54 thoughts on “Love Thy Neighbor, or at Least Give Them Nicknames You Can Remember

  1. Every summer, our little street has a Block Party, and all the neighbors come out to chat, eat, drink and socialize together. We’ve now lived on our street for almost 30 years, and I still don’t know some of these people, although I see them every summer at the Block Party. Many of them are recent transplants to our neighborhood, they are young and vaguely interchangeable. I think three of them are named “Chris.” So I just say “Hi there!” and act friendly. Til next year when they’re strangers all over again…

  2. I hear ya! For 4+ years, we have lived across the street from “no pants guy”. Just our fun name since he always wears shorts. And the fact that we live in Minnesota makes it more interesting when he shovels snow!

  3. I live between 2 Rose’s (old Rose and young Rose) and across the street from Passed Out Under Tree (he fell asleep on his way home from the park)! Good Times!!

  4. Across our street is “Speedo.” This is a fat guy who mows his lawn on a lawn tractor wearing nothing but a Speedo. Being fat and all, it looks like he’s mowing in the nude. It’s an acre of lawn so he’s out there a while. Ewwww.

  5. How on earth are you so lucky as to have such a motley bunch of neighbors? They sound like the kind of people Guard Duck would politely blow to kingdom come. Even if you don’t like birds, you should think about puting some bird feeders in your trees. They might return the favor in the form of little white packages that ruin paint on expensive cars.

  6. I have chinese guy who smokes upwind of my open window on one side, and chick with the million boyfriends on the other side

  7. I remember neighbors across the street who partied day in and day out…we called them the dope heads. I mean they rode their MOTORCYCLES up and down the halls in their HOUSE. Then there was the HOLLERING lady. The FRIED BACON folks…and the dog lady, the cat lady.

    Don’t you just LOVE neighbors???

  8. I am totally and utterly offended my your description of me as “heavy set” and my yard as dirt. First of all: THERE IS GRASS THERE! It’s just really small. you don’t have enough respect to come over and see it yourself, do you? I did not realize that you can be so disrespectful to a person. I thought higher of you, Mr. Pastis. Shame.

  9. Block parties are great.

    Not the one in my neighborhood — I can’t stand those shitheads — but ones you happen to see as you are driving down the street.

    Park around the corner and make yourself to home. No one will ever question you because they don’t want to admit they don’t know half the people there anyway.

    Free food and drink.

    What a country.

  10. The gal across the street comes over when we’re not home and cuts our flowers. Was a big mystery for a long time. Drove in one day while she was doing it. She looked at us, grabbed her shears, her (our) flowers, gave us an “oh, well” wave and went home. Guess I’ll call her Cyndi Lopper.

  11. I am with you – we have Mr. & Mrs Dumbass next door. Dog Dude lives across the street. Crazy Ex Board Prez is on the corner. Oh, and then there is Boner, but that is actually his real nickname so I don’t know if that counts.

    As for Shithead, can I suggest going out there to mow the lawn (or do something equally loud) next to his car everytime he sits in there – that could make him move. Or, you could always explain to him how bad the sap that comes off your trees is for his paint – or more like “wow, thats too bad about your paint” “what?” “yeah, the sap from these trees (point up) is really eating it away (or whatever it is sap does), isn’t it – too bad”

  12. For several weeks I had the same problem, the renter across the street parked on my side under my oak tree. I set the sprinkler to full blast but only on his car. After 3 days he started parking on his side. Oh, did I mention I did this in January when the night temps would drop below freezing.

  13. Even though we know our neighbor’s names, we still refer to them by their nickname (which is not printable here, as I’m sure they would not approve of the nickname we have given them!) Needless to say, these are not likable people. However, there are many likable people in our extended neighborhood that we refer to in the same ways you have described your neighbors. Much more fun than using plain old names, don’t you think?

  14. I’ve been calling the guy who lives across the street from me ‘Bob’ for over ten years. A couple of years ago I learned his name is actually Bill. But I can’t stop calling him ‘Bob’. He needs to change his name, because remembering to call him Bill is very inconvenient to me.

  15. At least you’re being nice and not calling the heavyset woman a fat broad.

    Live in the country, you don’t have people park in front of the house. We still have ‘the creepy people’ up the street and ‘the guys with the race car’ across the street.

  16. At least “ball kid” doesnt live next door to you. I’ve had this annoying redheaded ADD kid living in my building for years and every summer his parents don’t want to deal with him so they chuck him outside with a big rubber ball and from daybreak to dusk all you hear is “KATHUNK KATHUNK KATHUNK” and once an hour a parent yells out ‘Johnny are you out there’ and this kid screams back “YES – kathunk kathunk kathunk”….I can’t want to bloody move.

  17. I have the “pack-rat”. I don’t know who lives there just that he/she keeps a ton of crap in he/r garage, but at least s/he parks in the driveway, not in front of someone’s house.

  18. we have a guy on our block who parks his car on our driveway and not his own because he dose not want his to have cracks in it

  19. “So whenever we have guests”

    “We”? Not “when Staci has guests and I’m locked up in my room”?

    I’m stunned. Stunned, I tell you!

  20. I lived here for 6 years now…we have Duke and his wife, a family across the street with a WEIRD kid, a neighbor that refuses to open their shades and cuts his grass in dress clothes….he also rides around the yard to spray his weeds…and then we find out his daughter is a little on the slutty side. Neighbors down the street have kids that had the cops called to the house, and they had to kick the door in so the dope dog could get in. The “mother” of these kids once worked for us…interesting to say the least. We also had a neighbor that worked at our favorite restaurant but didn’t know she lived 2 house away……I HATE NEIGHBORS !

  21. Yeah, you live in my neighborhood too, I see.

    Well done, accurate, and oh so true.

    Keep up the great work!

  22. We have the “Witch” and her Albino husband, a tattoo artist, and old man whose wife cusses at him all the time, a man with one arm, teenage punks who play heavy precussion at the weirdest times, and we haven’t even seen the punk’s family- every time we drive by their house we slow down and stare, serching for signs of life.

  23. I suppose your name would be the shit-head who can’t remember anyone’s name…🙂

  24. Dont worry Stephan I can’t remeber names of neighbors I dislike either except the woman next door. Who I am seriously considering bringing a skunk to the next time she parties at 2am !

  25. I have a shithead neighbor too. He’s our gentrifying shithead neighbor who dumps all his construction crap–including concrete–in the city dumpster behind my house so everyone else has to put their trash outside the dumpster. Trash in plastic = food source for the dump chickens (a.k.a. pigeons), raccoons and such who leave a big mess that blows around. I love him!

  26. You should plant a Japanese dogwood among those trees your neighbor parks in. They don’t grow fast and are about twenty feet high, just enough to park a car under. They are beautiful in the springtime and in the fall, but they attract birds, which do nasty things to cars parked underneath.

    In the fall they create these fruity, pink little “puffballs” that look like cherries that fall to the ground. They are edible, but a waste of time because they taste horrible and are more seeds than anything. They also make a mess of one’s car.

    Of course only a passive-aggressive person would do this. You are not that type, but I am.

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  28. I have Pattie, Dick, and the Dentist (NOT the guy in Mighty Ducks – just an old guy who’s a dentist).

  29. What kind of crap does Doug have on his lawn? Pink flamingo/lawn jockey/garden gnome type crap or old rusty washing machines & wheel-less cars up on blocks?

    Or, literally, crap?

    My upstairs neighbor is referred to as Thunderfoot. Cheesily-built condos are SO much fun.

  30. doesn’t everone have a next-door neighbor named “shithead”? except, of course, my next door neighbors.

  31. I actaully have the Shitheads in my neihborhood. The Shitheads are an old married couple who spy into other people in the neighbor hood and who complain about EVERYTHING. There is also the snobby couple who have a REALLY annoying poodle, and the husband parks his brand new car out in the driveway just to be a douche. Then we have Guy Who Rides His Dirtbike At Full Throttle Up and Down The Street, and there is also Creepy Leering Guy (who is married with kids, by the way, but he still leers at any woman who walks by him) Crazy Romanian Lady, Hoodlum Punk, and Rich 20 Year Old That Drives His Car Down The Street And Blasts Music and Thinks He’s Cool But Really Isn’t.

    My family, I am ashamed to say, is probably the Loud Family, because latley, we have taken to throwing really loud parties to piss the Shitheads off. They’ve called the police on us a couple times.

    “Excuse me, Miss, but we have had complaints about loud music”.

    “Ah”.

    “Would you mind toning it down a little bit?”

    “Why, is it pissing the people next door off?”

    “Well, yes”.

    “Good”.

  32. I have neighbors that want to kill me just because I wouldn’t let them steal my bike. One time they tried to run me over in a white VW van. But its ok though. They are stupid. Very stupid. They remind me of the crocs.

  33. Okay, three things Pastis…

    1. Was that post by “Kay” (on 8/31 at 7:06PM) legit? I mean, was that really written your heavy set neighbor who you’ve now offended publicly? Because that would be hilarious, but I would also feel kinda bad. It would be awkward and I’m afraid I’d be forced to look away.

    2. I love the suggestion by Bert to “hang a birdfeeder in the tree.” That’s good advice right there.

    3. I’m amazed at how many people participate in this practice of “neighbor nicknames” instead of learning their real names. We’ve been doing this for years at my house, and thankfully my wife is complicit. We have flag-pole lady with the gigantic ostentatious U.S. flag in her front yard; hairy-shirtless guy who is perpetually shirtless and well, hairy (that one’s kind of self explanatory I guess); buff lawnmower guy, which was coined by my wife about the next door neighbor who mows nearly naked and is admittedly pretty buff…I’m an unwilling participant in that nickname; and the guy who everyone just calls “the asshole across the street”. It would be shorter to call him shithead, I guess, but then we’d all have to learn a new name, and who wants to do that?

    PCG

  34. We have a guy who always wears shabby gray sweat pants when he walks his dog and avoids me if I’m walking mine at the same time. Don’t even acknowledge each other with a nod from across the street. We call him “Kiddie Porn Man” because he just seems creepy.

  35. ohhhh… I hava a neihbor named Shithead too, he parks his red truck in front of my house and leaves it there overnight the day before trash day. i think he does it on purpose

  36. I don’t see the point of the bird feeder and dogwood ideas. Sure they might get rid of the merc, but he wants the place for his guests. He still wouldn’t have it, and have a lot of bird shit and/or badly tasting fruit in his front yard, too.

  37. Once Mr. Mercedes abandons the parking space for a cleaner spot the birdfeeder can be moved. Besides, the occasional guest would only get the occasional bird bomb as opposed to the daily accumulation of parking there regularly.

  38. We have Schlumpy across the street, because all he does is lay across his trucks, cars, up against a doorway anytime you see him — never does any yard work. That’s left up to his 69 year old father. Schlumpy is married to Scarina who is just scary in the face. They have 3 daughters, the oldest is “Hotpants” because that’s all she wears. Next door we have the “Serial Killer” because we wouldn’t be surprised if he appeared on our nightly news program one evening. The on the other side is good ole Bob and he really is a good guy, but his wife, jeesh, what a screaming banshee. And us, well, we are the folks that sit in living room, looking out the windows at all the craziness going around…so I guess we are the nosy neighbors.

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  40. Just curious , do your neighbors follow your work? And what name do you think they have given you?

  41. I had a neighbor once and I didn’t know his name but knew he was a retired plumber. He was a stereotypical ex-plumber. We called him Crack.

  42. I think it is funny that there are so many shitheads in the world and each one of us thinks theirs is the BIGGEST SHITHEAD! Now, I too go by nicknames, also have 2 heavyset women-one with 2 sheds, one with none. I also have dumb ass cop. Our shithead has a pickup truck that looks like a tractor trailer, he also has a camper that is the size of a small home, a van painted up with stupid logos, a car, several trailers to hitch to his HUGE pickup truck, and I could go on. He likes to park most of his junk in front of my house, as does dumb ass cop, making for an ugly site. I would park one of my cars out front when he moves some of his junk, only I am too lazy to have to walk to the street and back to the house. When my husband complained to him to move some of his shit, he said he did not want to park anything in front of his house (heaven forbid). He has two 2 1/2 car garages, so its not like he has no room, he also has a long driveway and room in front of his house. Personally I would like to take a baseball bat to the above mentioned shithead, but then dumb ass cop would arrest me, the strange people across the street with strange names and the two heavy set women would all come out to stare. They would be clapping and thanking me though, as they can’t take him either. My husband and I are the only ones to finally get him to move his motorhome, can’t legally make him move anything else. Oh and he is always on his blue tooth too, he has many girlfriends (I don’t know who would go out with a shithead, but there are alot of crazy people), hoping his wife looking at him doesn’t realize who he is talking to. He also likes to stand outside near our house and talk on the phone, (which is how I know he has many girlfriends)it is like he is in the house with us he talks so loud. Maybe if I learned peoples names and became friendly with them (it will never happen) I could do more. Good Luck with Your Shithead!

  43. I came across your blog because I wanted to vote on where the croc should land. I would like to see him heading for a swamp so he won’t blow up.

    Our neighbors are really nice but I think they know us as shithead and the heavy set lady.

  44. I know I am extremely late to the party, but I didn’t know you had a blog. Love the strip. I am Rat. Well, sometimes Goat. Sometimes Pig. Never Croc, though. Never Croc. Especially not Larry. Anyway, for the shithead with the Mercedes, make some fake birdshit and decorate his car with it, every time he parks in front of your house. I’m no chemist, but I wonder if Wite-Out, and some Wite-Out colored with food coloring would work. Squeeze the stuff out of a couple of pastry bags, which shouldn’t be difficult, as we all know what birdshit looks like. Just a thought. I would never do something like this. Heh-heh…

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