Saturday, June 21, 2014
When I was little, I lived in a neighborhood with alleys. Not right behind our house, but in the general vicinity. Behind our house, the alley had been reclaimed and our yard backed up to the yard of our neighbors. They had a little dog, and we had a little dog, and the two little dogs would run along the fence next to each other for countless hours of doggie pleasure while we leaned over the back fence and gossiped. The houses across our street had an alley behind them. And the street beyond that had an alley behind the houses. When I was a kid, these alleys were cool. That's where the garbage trucks came through to pick up the trash. In some cases, that's where the garage was. (No one had a garage that was attached to the house. Way too plush!) The alleys were the shortcuts we took when we were on our way somewhere fun in the neighborhood on a long hot summer day. Those were the days when your mom told you to be back to the house by sunset -- which was like ten o'clock at night. You didn't have to tell anyone where you were for hours. No texting, no cell phoning. Ah, bliss.
It's been probably thirty years since I lived in a neighborhood with an alley. But we live in a condo with a garage alley. The front of the condos all face the street and the rear of the condos are where the attached garages are located. It creates kind of a garage alley. It's where our trash is picked up. There's a constant stream of traffic. Neighbors coming and going. A few people even use this space for kickball and barbecuing.
Recently, I've been participating in another traditional activity of alley life -- getting my ass kicked. This week, I got into two different rumbles with two different neighbors. The first was with a mean-looking junkyard dog of a tow truck driver who had completely blocked access to the alley. I had groceries in the car, and so I asked politely how long he was going to take to load what I could only guess was a motorcycle he was repossessing onto his truck. He looked at me -- shot daggers at me -- and refused to answer. Three times, I asked! Three times, he gave me the look of death but refused to utter one word. The guy who was my actual neighbor was supervising the pick up. He also said nothing (three times!) and went into the garage and closed the door ASAP.
The next day, we backed out of our garage to find a girl in an SUV parked in the middle of the alley in order to have a flirt with the young man who lives at the end of the street. He spends a great deal of time in his garage fixing up his car, and always waves amiably to the HMA when he goes by in his loud American muscle car. But this time things were different. We suggested the girl in the SUV pull to the side of the alley. The young man suggested we drive around her. Loudly! So I made our suggestions again -- with some swear words thrown in for good measure. That's right, I'm one of those saucy old women who cusses like a sailor. Snarling ensued. I don't think I would've been so upset, if I didn't have the earlier altercation.
Maybe it's not the people. Maybe alleys are bad. Maybe it's best to go back to a time when all the alleys were reclaimed, and all you did with the neighbors who lived behind you was hang over your back fence and have a good chat while a couple of dogs capered around your feet.
Those were the good ole days.