Friday, July 07, 2006

Good fences make good neighbors.

Last night, as I was just finishing with our na-night routine, and getting my daughter a drink of water, a voice startled me at my front door.

"Hellloooooo," it crooned, scaring the shit out of me.

"Gah! T! You scared the shit out of me!"

"I'm sorry, Amy, I didn't mean to scare you."

"Is everything okay?" I asked, worried. Our neighbors don't come calling at night.

"Oh, it's fine, everything is okay. You just need to come over here and look at my new fence."

"Um...okay. I'll be over in a minute." I knew something amusing was happening. T's face was a mixture of bewilderment and resigned laughter.

I put the kiddo to bed, and trotted across the street. It was immediately apparent what the problem was. The neighbors next to T. had erected a chain-link fence in their front yard. Not only was it unsightly, it was bizarre; it was about 15 feet long, and 6 feet high, and that's it. Just one fence wall. No corners. It didn't seem to have post holes dug, or anything. The chain-link itself was sagging. It was the strangest thing.

About 5 of us stood around, discussing this monstrosity. It was right along their property line, so they had the right to erect a fence there. But it is so desperately unsightly. It's 6 feet tall! It's like having a deathmatch cage in your front yard. Plus, it's right next to their neighbor's yard, T's yard, which is the nicest in the whole neighborhood.

So this morning, as I'm sitting at my computer, drinking coffee and taking things slow, I noticed one of the folks from the deathmatch-cage house taking down the fence. Relieved, I went back to my work.

Then my dog started barking at the front door. I told her to zip it, and looked to see who was out there. The fence is going back up. They just took it down to start properly installing it, with post holes, corners, etc. If concrete is involved, things are going to get ugly. I know that in T's house, they are going to call the city inspectors, knowing that the neighbors have no permit to erect the fence. If they don't, they will have to tear it down.

Why doesn't T just talk to them, you ask? Because they don't speak English, that's why. Also, it's their right to erect a fence (with a permit) in their front yard. We aren't in a covenant-controlled community. It's just Denver.

So, they are going to have a 6-foot-tall chain-link fence surrounding their front yard. Oh, I've left out the best part. The reason for this fence, we all speculate with confidence, is because of their toddler. He's about 18 months old, I guess, and regularly escapes the house, sprinting down the street or sidewalk. Sprinting, I tell you. He knows something the other folks in that house don't: escaping this neighborhood is imperative! Look, there's an opening! The door's open, and they aren't watching me! Now's the time! Hit it! And off he goes.

Every day, I see an adult from that house sprinting down the street to catch the baby. Yesterday, when M. was backing out of his garage, T. had to put a body-block on the baby, because he was in full sprint, right toward their driveway. My husband has warned the people there that they need to watch that baby, because some cars come down our street rather fast, and something could happen. Well, after yesterday's almost-run-over-by-the-neighbors incident, their response is not heightened awareness of where their kid is, but a fence. A huge, cage-fence in their front yard. about locking the front door and keeping the kid inside? How about hanging out in the already-fenced backyard? How about using a bit of discipline to teach the kid what you want? I mean, seriously. A huge front-yard fence, for your kid?

It's going to get more and more interesting.

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